Do You Have Healthy Boundaries?


Did you know that boundaries are an important part of self-care? How can you tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries? And what exactly is a boundary?

A boundary is a limit that defines you as separate from others. The boundaries we put in place are essential for the health of our relationships. Setting healthy boundaries requires self-awareness and good communication. They help us create safety, respect and consideration not only in our relationships with others, but in the relationship we have with ourselves.

The different types of boundaries and their healthy responses are as follows:

Mental: "I respect your opinion, but I don't agree."

Emotional: "I'd love to be there to help you, but I don't have the bandwidth right now."

Time:  "I can only stay for an hour."

Physical: "I prefer a handshake over a hug."

Material: "I already lent you money last month, I cannot do it again."

Internal: "I've been social all weekend, I need a few days to myself."

We begin to learn about boundaries early on in life. If we were taught to put someone else's needs before our own, we learn that we need to do so in our relationships in order to create safety. And safety is a biological imperative. If we experience rejection or abuse as a child, for example, for not complying with emotional caretaking of another, pleasing and appeasing patterns will take hold.

What tends to happen is that we lose ourselves in the process. When you're prioritizing another person, you lose the time and opportunity to invest and explore your own wants, needs and desires. This has a detrimental effect on one's independence, emotional maturity and self-esteem.

If you are allowing others to violate your emotional or physical space by letting them dictate your reality, Remember, this is a learned pattern and an adaptive behavior you created to keep yourself safe early on in life when you had very little power and an inadequate skill set. As an adult you do have the ability to change the pattern, even though you may still be in the process of learning the necessary strategies. It's entirely possible, but it's entirely up to you and only you!

Here are some suggestions to help with boundary setting in relationships:

Know your values and beliefs. This requires self-awareness. Spending time with and by yourself to explore your interests and passions are an integral part of healthy living and will in turn enrich and strengthen your sense of self and your relationships.

Put yourself first. When you are consistently taking care of what another person wants or needs from you, then you're not focused on what's right and good for you. Not filling yourself up first will affect your self-esteem and you will have very little to give in your relationships. Take time for yourself to pursue and relish in whatever brings you joy and gratification.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Most of us would like to not have to feel the discomfort of guilt or remorse when setting limits with others. But this is a necessary part of the process and unavoidable. You will get accustomed to it as long as you stay consistent. Bring to mind a time when someone set a limit with you. You were able to handle it, correct? Well, others can do the same.

Set limits. We teach other people how to treat us. You have a right to say "no" to things that you don't want to do. Don't throw your power away. If you aren't setting guidelines and verbalizing your preferences, be assured someone else will do it for you.

Assert yourself. Use your powerful voice to speak up for yourself and communicate your wants and needs. Use "I" statements and be firm and clear in both your tone of voice and the words that you choose. If you're not comfortable with this, try crafting and rehearsing a response in advance of what you'd like to say until you feel more confident in delivering the message in person.

Assess the health of your relationships. Notice how you feel when you spend time with the people in your life. If you consistently feel more negative, insecure or judged around someone, it may be time to distance yourself from that person. A good first option is to give them feedback on how you're feeling and if they're not taking you seriously, it may be time to move on.

If you think you need more help developing and maintaining healthy boundaries, don't go it alone. Having the support of a professional can help you gain an understanding of your relational patterns and their origins as well as heal old wounds. Then you'll be ready to take action on creating healthy boundaries and reaping the sweet rewards!




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