What are boundaries?
When you hear the word boundary, what comes to mind? Maybe it is the literal definition from the Oxford Dictionary, “a line that marks the limits of an area” or “a limit of a subject or sphere of activity.” Maybe you think about it in terms of relationships, work, family, or energy – setting up limits for the benefit or protection of something else.
A common theme in therapy is what boundaries are, how to create them, and realistic boundaries that work for your life. Boundaries are sometimes to keep others out, yes, but they serve as ways to protect ourselves. To honor our feelings, desires, and energy while creating safety in relationships.
We frequently stretch ourselves thin or hold ourselves to such high expectations, often at the expense of our mental health or what can be respectful to us. Setting and maintaining boundaries increases our self-respect, confidence, and ability to accomplish things valuable to us.
How to Begin Setting Boundaries & Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Identify moments that you feel stretched thin, overworked, uncomfortable, or upset. Notice what feels wrong and then begin to work backward.
- Identify what you want in a situation moving forward.
- When setting a boundary involving other people, use a calm voice and describe plainly what the expectation and desires are.
- Identify belongs in your inner circle of trust and safety. What characteristics do they have? What information do you want to share with them?
Things to Remember:
- Not everyone is going to respect your boundaries. Meaning you may need to reinforce or re-evaluate your limit with yourself or with others.
- “No is a complete sentence.” (Annie Lamott)
- It is okay to set limits. You cannot be everything to everyone. It is not realistic, and it is not productive to your journey and your growth.
Setting boundaries are easier said than done but spend some time brainstorming about what they could look like in your life. Start small.
Written by: Chardyce Kott, LSW