Part of being a responsible adult is setting boundaries with ourselves. We need limits to keep ourselves safe and healthy.
When you set a boundary with yourself, you’re saying: “Here’s the line between what’s okay for me and what’s not. Here’s the line I won’t cross.”
Depending on different aspects, boundaries can have various meanings which interrelate. The following are definitions of what boundaries are.
- A line which marks the limits of an area.
- A limit you set on what you will accept of another person’s words or actions.
- A psychological demarcation that protects the integrity of an individual or group or that helps the person or group set realistic limits on participation in a relationship or activity.
- Rules or limits that someone establishes to protect their security and well-being around others; we identify and express how other people can behave around us so that we feel safe.
Types of Boundaries.
- Physical – this refers to your personal space, your privacy and your body.
- You might be someone who is comfortable with public displays of affection (hugs, hand-holding) or you might be someone who prefers not o be touched in public.
- Emotional – this refers to a person’s feelings. You might not feel comfortable sharing your feelings about everything with a friend. Instead, you prefer to share gradually over time.
- Intellectual – these boundaries concern your thoughts and beliefs.
- Financial – this one, as you guessed, is all about money. How’d you like to save and spend your money?
Setting boundaries requires some degree of self-awareness and confidence in who you are and what you need.
Everyone’s boundaries are unique. The boundaries you create for yourself will reflect your needs and priorities and may not be exactly the same as these. These few examples will just give you an idea of what boundaries or limits for yourself might look like;
- Sticking to your budget.
- Not participating in gossip or talking about someone behind their back.
- Limiting your social media usage to a few hours a day.
- Not answering work emails on weekends.
- Valuing your own opinions.
- The right to change your mind and preferences.
- Ability to prioritize personal time for self-care.
- Alone time with no distractions and interruptions.
- Being comfortable saying ‘no’.
- Being comfortable hearing ‘no’ without taking it personally.
- Doing laundry every Friday.
Many of us recognize that we are people-pleasers even though we don’t want to be. We keep on saying ‘yes’ to everything everyone tells us. Despite not wanting to be a people-pleaser, we continue to fill the role because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. We don’t want people to think we’re rude or disrespectful. But without knowing we are disrespecting ourselves.
There’s a fine line between being a good person and trying to make people think you’re a good person. You are ‘most likely’ a good person regardless of whether you do everything someone asks you to do.
But you have to set boundaries with your time and energy. There’s no need to deplete your emotional, mental and physical energy on something that doesn’t align with your values.
Importance of setting boundaries
- It gives you freedom to spend time doing what you love
- Boundaries create trust and build a healthy relationship.
Even when some people don’t like what you do, they will likely still respect you for standing up for what you believe in.
- They generate safety in relationships.
When your privacy is respected, you are most likely to feel heard, validated and appreciated.
- They are a form of self-care.
They help to create clear guidelines for how you would like to be treated. They let others know what is and what isn’t okay or acceptable to us.
- They provide emotional freedom from self-criticism and second-guessing yourself.
How to set boundaries with yourself;-
- Identify different areas of your life that need structure or limits, such as finances, relationships, electronic usage, daily routine, physical health, nutrition, emotional health etc.
- Create boundaries that reflect your goals and values.
- Don’t try to set too many boundaries all at once. Setting boundaries is a process and trying to make too many changes at once can backfire.
- Use compassionate accountability – it’s counter-productive to expect perfection and blast yourself for not holding all of your boundaries all the time. When you struggle with a boundary, be gentle with yourself. Being too harsh or unrealistic with yourself leads to shame, hopelessness and giving up. Explore the reasons for slipping up, adjust your boundaries, if needed, and make a plan to improve.
- Be aware of Social Media – Social Media platforms allow for more communication than ever, but they’ve also encouraged some considerable boundary blurring.
If you deem a particular action as boundary-crossing in real life, your actions are no less valid when it occurs digitally. You don’t have to expose yourself to social media that’s distressing you.
- Get crystal clear on your priorities.
Getting clear on your priorities will help you figure out what you’re actually willing to spend your time and energy on. If you find yourself always putting others people’s priorities above your own, it’s time to change that!
Boundaries aren’t mean or wrong. It’s kind and respectful to tell people what’s okay and what’s not okay with you. This sets clear expectations on how to navigate your relationships.