How To Set Healthy Boundaries

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Read this blog post for more information on how to set healthy boundaries.

Boundaries are limitations we can place on ourselves or for ourselves that help defines what we are willing or not willing to accept or tolerate. Boundaries are not used as a way of attempting to control others, although this is how many people think they work. Boundaries are actually for you and your well-being.

Healthy boundaries are for keeping bad elements (such as cruelty, abuse, harassment, and manipulation) out of your life and relationships. Boundaries keep people together in a healthy way promoting respect, communicating more effectively, and working together with compromises.

There are different types of boundaries that need to be set in a clear way that aligns with your values and doing this promotes a healthier relationship with yourself and with those around you. If you're a parent reading this, you will also be doing some great role modelling that will equip your child with learning this life-long skill.

You may struggle with boundaries if:

  • You were forced to do things outside of your comfort zone
  • You were taught that your worth was tied to the needs of others
  • You were taught to care for others t the exclusion of your needs
  • You were used to regulate your parents' emotions
  • Your feelings and experiences were dismissed

As we learn about our past, we are able to move away from self-blame, “Why can’t I do better? What is wrong with me!

It is not your responsibility to:

  • Say yes all the time
  • Minimise your emotions to keep others at peace
  • Anticipate the needs of other
  • Keep toxic people in your life
  • Sacrifice your mental health for a job, relationship or friendship

Different Types of Boundaries

Physical

  • Self-care
  • Emotional awareness
  • Intimacy
  • Personal space
  • Rest
  • Time
  • Sexual
  • Material items
  • Money
  • Social outings

Mental

  • Communication skills
  • Connection to self
  • Connecting with others
  • Mental load
  • Personal responsibility
  • Acceptance of differing opinions
  • Your Time
  • Social Media

Emotional

  • Emotional Regulation Skills
  • Self-compassion
  • Empathy
  • Accountability
  • Personal responsibility
  • Self-respect
  • Respect for others
  • Spirituality

Some signs you are in need of setting boundaries may include feelings of anger, confusion, shame, exposure, and conflict. At the root of this is fear. Fear of not being enough, fear of not being loved, fear of loss or abandonment, fear of hurting someone, fear of being controlled, fear of guilt/shame/blame, fear of overwhelm and frozen.

Remember these four things when taking your approach to setting a boundary.

Confidence

-Body language

-Face the person

-Eye contact

-Steady tone of voice

Respect

-Avoid yelling, put-downs, or silent treatment

-Be firm

-Use 'I' or 'I feel' statements to get your point across instead of blaming the other person

Plan Ahead

-Think about what to say and how you will say it

-Writing it down or in a letter may feel more comfortable and clear

Compromise

-Listen and consider the other person’s needs (when appropriate)

-Give-and-take can be part of a healthy relationship

Question Prompts

  • What gets in the way of me setting boundaries? For example, fear of losing a relationship, and concern about upsetting their feelings.
  • What boundaries do I feel like are most or often violated? (physical, emotional, intellectual)
  • What is a Safe Person to me?
  • What are some of the Red Flags I have identified or need to pay more attention to?
  • How can I tell when someone has respected my boundary? (their behaviour and actions, and how I am feeling)
  • How can I tell when someone has not respected my boundary? (their behaviour and actions, and how I am feeling)
  • If a repair needs to happen with this person, do I feel comfortable initiating this? If not, what is getting in the way of that?
  • Do I currently have a boundary that is too firm that maybe requires some more flexibility?
  • Is there a boundary that feels like an attempt to control them and ignore any uncomfortable feelings?
  • How can I maintain fairness and negotiation in setting a boundary?
  • Are there any boundaries I hold that are keeping someone at arm's length and preventing closeness?
  • What are my negotiable and non-negotiable boundaries?
  • Is there someone who I feel is really good at setting boundaries? What can I learn from them and their approach that I like?

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