The word boundary is often associated with negative feelings. When mentioning the term, people can come across offended or feel like it’s a personal attack on their character. The truth is that setting boundaries makes for stronger relationships and better self-care.
Too many times I have found myself feeling uneasy in situations and left anxious and stressed out because I’ve been too scared to speak up or let people know they’ve crossed a boundary.
Recognising that we need to set boundaries, whether it’s with friends, family members or co-workers is the first step. Too often we find ourselves in uncomfortable territory, bottling up our feelings and too afraid to speak up because we’re afraid that we’ll hurt the other person.
If the past year has taught us anything, amidst lockdown, our relationships need work and are constantly changing and depending on the situation it’s good to keep an open line of communication to let the other person know how you’re feeling.
Identifying that you need boundaries
Recognising that we need to set boundaries can be tricky. A way of navigating whether someone or something is violating your limits is to check in with your feelings and emotions:
Ask yourself if you ever feel anxious or stressed with someone.
Do you feel responsible for their feelings or that you feel uncomfortable when they bring up a subject about you or your life?
Paying attention to how you leave the conversation, how you react to things, being intuitive with your emotions around other people is the first step forward.
Voicing your discomfort and speaking out when you feel uncomfortable is a form of self love. Be kind to yourself and how you feel.
Setting boundaries does not have to be an incredibly severe conversation. Keeping the topic light and telling someone how you feel and bringing awareness to the subject can work well. Explain things from your perspective, using ‘I’ statements, expressing your needs and requesting privacy are all going to lead to protecting yourself and maintaining your sanity.
Never let anyone make you feel uncomfortable about setting boundaries. Your mental health is essential, and cultivating your safety will help to keep boundaries in place. Boundaries should be created to preserve your headspace and will lead to healthier relationships overall.
Setting boundaries is all well and good but implementing them is what will make them stick. If you have explicitly told another about these boundaries, and they continue to cross them, you need to speak up.
Those who refuse to listen to this may need to be reminded. Try not to let the other person’s potential response stop you from being direct. This can lead the boundary to not being set at all.
Fear and doubt can cross your mind before you speak up but let the other person know how you feel. Make it clear what you consider a healthy relationship. Setting boundaries are liberating and will lead to healthier relationships that last.
Your mental health and headspace need to be maintained and are just as important as your physical health. Be easy on yourself. Sometimes people won’t recognise a boundary even when you’ve explicitly set it out and respond in a negative way, but it’s better to leave those people as you move forward in your growth.