Are you familiar with what boundaries mean? Or is this the first time you hear about this?
During the past years, after meeting and working with so many people, I began to notice how so many of us are not aware of personal boundaries and their incredible value in our life. I know I certainly used to be one of those people. However, I have learned the importance of having them, and how crucial they are to my overall well-being, and I now like to call them my “manual of instructions” or my personal preferences.
Wondering how boundaries can improve your life?
Setting clear boundaries can help you clarify what you value most in life. When you learn to set healthy boundaries in your relationships, you can learn to stand up for yourself and respect yourself in the process. Boundaries can also help you to become more assertive in how you communicate your needs and desires with others. They help you to preserve and protect your energy so that you can focus on things that are most important to you and can even help to prevent certain health conditions such as anxiety and depression from developing.
By now you may be asking yourself: “But how do I know what my boundaries are?”
To find out what your boundaries are, you will need to start by making some self-reflection and taking an honest look at yourself. Try to think back on any past situations when you may have felt pressured to do something that you did not want to do, and think about how you would have handled the situation differently if you had known your boundaries. This will help you to determine what your boundaries are and give you a better idea of how you would like to handle future similar situations.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you determine your boundaries:
Think about the type of people you want in your life and what they mean to you. Think about the things that you enjoy doing the most and the things that you want to avoid doing at all costs. Keep in mind that you do not need to do everything for everyone around you all of the time. It is important, to be honest with yourself, and set limits that you can maintain in the long run. Recognize that it is ok to set boundaries even with the people that are close to you as well, by being fully open and authentic with them. Let them know what effect their unwanted behavior has on you and what steps they can take to change them. They may not realize the impact that their actions are having on you and may be willing to change their ways once you explain your feelings to them.
In addition to setting limits for other people in your life, you should also take an active role in enforcing your boundaries whenever necessary. This may involve things like saying no to spending time with certain people or avoiding doing things that you know make you feel uncomfortable. The key here is to know and understand yourself about what you want and need in life.
What categories of boundaries are there?
So far we have identified eight different categories of boundaries: Physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, material, non-negotiable, intellectual, and time.
Each of these categories can play an important role in helping you to maintain a balanced and healthy outlook on life. For example, when setting a physical boundary with a friend or family member, it is important to focus on your wants and needs rather than their needs and wants. By focusing on what you want, you are essentially reinforcing your power and ability to make your own decisions without feeling as though you have to give in to others to get what you want. It is also important to recognize that every boundary you set is about the other person’s behavior and not about you as a person.
Here are a few tips for setting effective boundaries:
1) Set clear guidelines ahead of time about what is acceptable and what is not. Sometimes you might need to set a boundary at that exact moment too.
2) Be firm and assertive when setting them so that the other person does not feel attacked or offended.
3) Listen to what others have to say without interrupting them so you can get a better understanding of the situation from their perspective.
4) Avoid being too judgmental or taking things personally.
5) Always stay calm and avoid emotional outbursts to maintain control of the situation.
6) Accept responsibility for your actions and keep your emotions in check to avoid getting into an argument with the other person.
7) Remember that you set the boundaries and should take responsibility for enforcing them as needed.
In the end, boundaries are all about respecting yourself and others. And while you set your own boundaries, learn to see and respect other people's boundaries too. This powerful learning process is going to increase your self-worth and overall confidence.
So let today be the day that you finally learn to set strong boundaries with others and more importantly...with yourself!