We all need to set them – here’s what that means and how to do it for your mental well-being.
You might hear the word “boundaries” and imagine walls that separate you from other people. In a sense, that’s true. But boundaries aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Lately, setting boundaries has become a very hot topic in the realm of mental health and relationships during the past few years (yay!). But what most people don't realize is that it really isn't all that glamorous — or easy — to set boundaries in your own life. In fact, it can be seen as rude or mean, painful or even unfair. What we learned over the last year is setting healthy boundaries is all about verbalizing what impacts your comfort levels, its consciously and unconsciously letting others know what is acceptable or appropriate. It means taking control of your own life experience and feeling empowered to be honest, transparent with the people around you.
Here's the playbook on why its important and how you can set up boundaries with anyone in your life.
Why Boundaries are Important
Given that boundaries help us feel safer and more comfortable, it makes sense that they come up so frequently: they can have a major impact on our mental well-being. Therefore, emotional boundaries are important because they give us the personal space—emotionally, mentally, physically we may need in each situation. If our emotional boundaries are respected, we feel valued, honored, and safe. Boundaries can be healing; boundaries can help one not feel taken advantage of, as you know your own limits about what you will and won’t tolerate. But when our emotional boundaries aren't respected, it may leave us feeling overwhelmed, bullied, or anxious which can result in ongoing feelings of despair and powerlessness. So, setting healthy boundaries are vital and enforcing them in a loving way will only lead to healthier and happier you.
Signs that Boundaries are Needed
It’s not always easy to establish boundaries. I mean, how many times have you agreed to go out when really, you want to have a chill night in and watch Netflix? Have you ever given someone your time or energy, only to be left feeling taken advantage of or resentful? These are all signs that a boundary needs to be set. Now, it can be scary to have that hard conversation or even acknowledge the realities of things (avoiding you gut feeling is telling you!) but its even more scary to staying exactly where you are.
How to Set Boundaries
Now that you have a better grasp on what boundaries are and why they're so important to your mental health, you may be wondering exactly how to set boundaries you may need in your life. Here are some strategies and examples that have helped us get started.
Recognize: give yourself space to reflect and process your thoughts to gain a clarity. Sometimes verbalizing and naming your emotions can be helpful, as addresses your reality, or the elephant in the room aka the thing no one is saying.
Define: once you start to figure out which parts of your life could benefit from boundaries, start taking steps towards implementing them. That means, evaluating current relationships, what you truly value )or need) in your life and then speak up (respectfully). The best way to do this is to use an "I statement," to explain how you feel.
Quick tip: If your having trouble identifying what you may be feeling, using Healthline’s wheel of emotions to help you figure out what your emotions are.
Offer: when your finally ready to share how you are feeling, you may end up hoping and/or expecting that they'll know what you want. So try something like “what I would really like to do” or “I realized I need to set a boundary around…” this allows you to state your boundary respectfully.
Just remember, once you establish your healthy boundary, those around you…who are used to you being a doormat may get irritated or upset. Pay attention to relationship changes and hold your ground. Some people might be supportive while others may not be willing to accept the “new you.” In those instances, the wisest move is to distance yourself from those who choose not to respect your boundaries.
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