Setting & Communicating Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries are essential to having strong and healthy relationships. They are also a way to take care of ourselves. So, it’s important that we understand how to set and maintain healthy boundaries, and today, we are going to do just that.
It’s probably safe to assume that many of us know what the word “boundaries” means, but how many of us actually understand what they are in practice? You might think of boundaries as something like a property line used to keep people out. But boundaries are not brick walls that are clear for all to see.
Boundaries are a token of self-care and self-love. When we understand how to set, communicate, maintain and respect healthy boundaries, we can avoid any negative feelings of resentment, disappointment, and frustration that build up when our limits have been pushed. Boundaries are empowering and prevent us from ever feeling like we have no control over our lives.
Basics of Boundaries
Boundaries are personal and look different for everyone. They can mean different things to different people and even be a mix of boundaries depending on the situation. But, if we were to set a basic outline of healthy boundaries, they would be:
1. The ability to be emotionally attached to others without giving up a sense of self and one’s freedom to be apart.
2. The ability to say appropriate ‘no’s’ to others without hesitation or fear of loss of love.
3. The ability to receive appropriate no’s from others without withdrawing emotionally.
Myths About Setting Boundaries
Myth #1 – If I set boundaries, I’m selfish
Setting boundaries is good self-care; it is not selfish. With strong boundaries, we are ensuring that we are able to take care of ourselves and those around us.
Myth #2 – Boundaries are a sign of not being dependable
An internal no negates an external yes; there is disharmony inside your soul. This could eventually lead to stress and anxiety, which can compromise the purity of what you do. People will respect intentional yes(es) more because the integrity of your commitments remains intact this way.
Myth #3 – If I begin setting boundaries, I will be hurt by others
Some people may retaliate against your boundaries. If they don’t like it, they won’t hesitate to tell you how they feel.
But it’s okay, you don’t have to feel responsible. If your boundaries are an obstacle for people, you may want to re-evaluate your relationships because strong relationships respect boundaries, and what the other person wants for themselves.
Myth #4 – If I set boundaries, I will hurt others
Your boundaries are not intended to attack or hurt anyone. Instead, they serve to protect you, and this is not a bad thing.
Healthy boundaries provide you with breathing space and let you be without feeling overwhelmed. Even airlines ask us to put our oxygen masks on first before helping others; you cannot help others when your cup is empty.
Myth #5 – Boundaries are permanent, and I’m afraid of burning my bridges
When you are setting boundaries, you have the right to change your mind. New information, a new perspective, or a new level of understanding/maturity can all result in a shift in what feels right for you.
Check-in with yourself – if a boundary you have set needs to change, it can be changed. They are not permanent.
Boundaries are here to help us. They are an integral part of healthy relationships, and it is better to communicate with people first before shinning them away. Ask people in your life to let you know if they ever think you are pushing boundaries and vice versa.
This may feel uncomfortable and even scary, but it will most likely be met with appreciation and will mark you as a person who understands and can be trusted because you reflect the potential to offer safe space in relationships, personal or professional both.
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