Why it's Important to Establish Healthy Boundaries

Why it's Important to Establish Healthy Boundaries

Why it's Important to Establish Healthy Boundaries

 

Boundaries are basic guidelines that people create to establish how others behave around them. Setting boundaries can ensure that relationships can be mutually respectful, appropriate, and caring. Often, we assume that people will respect our boundaries because we were brought up and taught what is acceptable by our family and culture. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Although we can choose who we interact with within our personal lives, such as choosing close friends, this is not always the case in other environments like work, family, and community. Therefore, we must know how to establish healthy emotional, psychological, and physical boundaries in relationships to feel respected and safe. This blog will answer your questions surrounding healthy boundaries and how to create and maintain them.

What are different types of boundaries?

Boundaries happen when you can sense yourself and what you need and want and access your voice to speak to those things. We all have "limits," and we all experience violations of our limits. Whether you're at work, at home, or hanging out with friends, building healthy boundaries hinges on understanding the types of boundaries


  • Physical: Boundaries relate to your personal space. You may not be a hugger when you see friends, but your friend is. A healthy physical boundary would be to tell your friend you would not hug and initiate a greeting you feel more comfortable with. If you are the hugger, then when you greet someone, you can ask if they feel comfortable with a hug. 
  • Sexual: Sexual boundaries are related to your comfort level regarding sexual activity and sexual expectations.  Ask for consent and make sure your partner(s) is comfortable.  Also, if you are uncomfortable, a healthy boundary is to express your discomfort.
  • Financial: Financial boundaries are spending money on what you feel comfortable with and not overspending if you do not have the means.  Also, do not loan people money if you are uncomfortable or cannot afford it. 
  • Emotional: Emotional boundaries are how we talk to others and how others treat us. For example, if someone has body image issues and spends time with someone, they comment on their body or appearance.  It is essential to let the other person know that they are uncomfortable with comments about their body and appearance, vocalizing how certain topics can make us uncomfortable, and asking that you avoid those topics.
  • Material: Material boundaries have to do with our personal belongings.  You have a right to say no to someone if they want to borrow your car, clothes, homework, etc.  

Why do we need boundaries?

Different types of boundaries exist to keep you safe. Boundaries are a way we separate our stuff from others. We all have a lot going on in our lives and emotions. It can often be difficult and exhausting to take on others’ feelings. Boundaries exist to keep you safe. 

 

This, however, is not to say not to help others. It is important to check in with ourselves to see how we feel and how much we can take on others.  The reverse is also true- if we are struggling and need to talk to someone to make sure they are emotionally available to hear about our struggles. Some of the benefits of healthy boundaries include things like:

  • Improved self-esteem
  • Gain a greater understanding of yourself, who you are, your beliefs, your values
  • It brings a focus to yourself and your well-being
  • Avoid burnout
  • Develop independence
  • Greater sense of identity
  • Create more independence

 

How to set healthy boundaries? 

"Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others." —Brene Brown.

 

One of the most important steps in setting healthy boundaries is communication.  Once you identify your boundaries, you will need clear and consistent communication regarding your thoughts and feelings, while being respectful is key.  Get comfortable telling others what you need, what makes you uncomfortable, or what you feel you can take on.  Let others know when you are feeling overwhelmed or need help.  If you struggle communicating your needs, ask a trusted friend or therapist to help you verbalize your needs and how to role play with another person.




“I” statements

With communication, use “I” statements.  I statements are a healthy way to express your needs without having the other person feel attacked.  “I feel ______ when _______because_____.  What I need is______.”  Example: “I feel frustrated when I come home, and the house is messy because I feel like I am always cleaning.  What I need is for everyone to put their stuff away when they get home.”  That statement can feel easier for someone to hear versus “You always leave your mess lying around the house.” Also, learn to be comfortable saying “no” and having “no” be a complete sentence.  Often we feel that we need to explain why we are saying “no”; however, we do not need to explain our no’s.


Identify your boundaries

Kari Rusnak, MA, PLC, CMHC, stated in PsychologyToday the first step to take when creating boundaries is to identify them before you tell them to others.  Ask yourself your rights, what does your gut say, what makes you uncomfortable, what are your values and beliefs?  By figuring out your needs first before you verbalize them, that way, if/when people have questions, you have a greater understanding of yourself to explain your boundaries clearly and concisely. 

 

It is easier to start early in a relationship to establish boundaries vs. change them. Keep in mind that this can take time and practice. Give yourself patience and grace.  It will also take the other party time to readjust to potentially new boundaries.  If you struggle with boundaries, talk to a friend or therapist.  If you get anxious before talking to someone about your boundaries, role with a friend, breathe, and if that doesn’t help, you can take virtue anxiety + stress relief. 


In conclusion

 

Healthy boundaries are a sign of good self-care. They help us experience less stress and anxiety and promote self-respect and well-being. Setting boundaries also leads to healthy relationships and more sincere communication, encouraging assertiveness and self-esteem. Boundaries help us feel respected by ourselves and others, nurturing our mental health and happiness. The most important thing to remember is that you’re allowed to set these boundaries, and there’s no need to feel guilty about it. The world is not a better place when we ignore our own needs for the comfort of others — the people who care about you want to know what you need to feel safe. But they can’t help until you know that yourself and are able and willing to communicate those needs. Finally, keep in mind that people you know might be working on establishing their boundaries, so make sure to listen, ask questions, and give them grace as well.  Remember, mental wellness is a virtue.

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