It is essential to draw boundaries in order to have healthy (interpersonal) relationships. Boundaries are important because they set the basic guidelines of how you want to be treated.

Clearly communicated boundaries help us take care of ourselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. Most importantly, it helps us in becoming less bothered about how we are viewed and more satisfied with the perceptions we have of ourselves.

  • Define Your Identity: You become clear and confident with yourself, and others know what to expect from you. ​
  • Protect Yourself from Violators: Boundaries let in what is good and keep out what is bad, so you remain safe and able to express your true self. ​
  • Promote You: Leaders and employers with good boundaries understand that you might also have good boundaries. They will trust that you can clearly state what you can and cannot do, appreciate input and work productively without experiencing burnout. ​
  • Protect Yourself from the Control of Others: Having clear boundaries will prevent others from controlling you. It becomes easier for you to say ‘no’ whenever you need to. ​
  • Preserve Your Purpose and Mission: Once these are identified, boundaries give you headspace and energy for the relationships and opportunities that best fit who you are. 

Types of Boundaries 

  • Professional Boundaries: The line between the self of the client and the self of the worker defines professional boundaries. It prescribes a system of limits and expectations between the employee and the employer.
    Ensuring professional boundaries helps reduce client/worker anxiety as rules and roles are clear, and it also increases the mental wellbeing of the worker. Above all, it harbours mutual respect, which is crucial in a healthy work environment. 
  • Emotional Boundaries​:  Emotional boundaries involve separating your feelings from another’s feelings. Taking responsibility for another’s feelings, letting another’s feelings dictate your own, sacrificing your own needs to please another, blaming others for your problems, and accepting responsibility for theirs indicate that you may have poor emotional boundaries. 
  • Physical Boundaries: Physical boundaries include your body, personal space, and privacy. Violations include standing too close, inappropriate touching, even looking through your personal files or your phone means that your physical boundaries are not being respected.
  • Sexual Boundaries:​ You do not have to do anything that you don’t want to. Likewise, you should not push the issue if someone is not keen to do something you want to. This is where boundaries come in. Understanding boundaries and how they work is a crucial part of consent education.
  • Financial Boundaries​: You may be wondering what exactly are financial boundaries. Simply put, financial boundaries is your financial wellbeing. They are rules you follow to balance the relationship between your finances, your loved ones, and yourself. Setting boundaries with our money has the potential to make our lives happier and healthier.

Communicating Boundaries

Communicating boundaries is equally important to setting boundaries. Unfortunately, our personal boundaries aren’t as obvious as a fence or a giant “no trespassing” poster. They’re more like invisible bubbles. So how can one clearly communicate their boundaries to others? Here’s how:

  • Be assertive but compassionate and kind​
  • Take responsibility by staying consistent ​
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say
  • Pursue the consequences in a healthy and reasonable way
  • Ensure they do not come from a place of fear or resentment but rather respect for self and others
  • You do not need to give a long explanation but should try and make the other person feel heard and understood in their request
  • Show kindness or open body language when setting a boundary
  • Use words like:​ “I’m afraid I won’t be able to do this for you”/”Thank you, but not today”/ No, unfortunately, I cannot, but I appreciate you asking me”​/ “I hear you and I clearly understand what you are asking, thank you for asking me but I will not be able to do this for you”​ / “I do not feel like you are respecting my boundary; unfortunately, I do not see this changing, and therefore I have to leave.

Boundaries are a life-altering system of “yes and no’s.” They are stop signs and borders you instil to protect yourself so that it is clear that you own your life, make good choices, and pursue the authentic expression of who you are in the way you live, love, give and relate.