Boundary-setting is a vital skill that ensures healthy work, romantic, family, and platonic relationships. We are often never taught how to set boundaries, or even told that they are important. But without effective boundaries, unhealthy or toxic relationships can develop, which can severely impact our mental health and wellbeing.
Effective boundary-setting is linked to happier relationships with others, better self-esteem, reduced symptoms of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, as well as a happier, more fulfilled life. By building our ability to set boundaries, we can maintain effective self-care and see benefits in every sphere of life, including our work, family, health, and romantic relationships.
Boundaries can be defined as the limits and rules that we set for ourselves within a relationship. They are the space between you and the other person, which ensures there is appropriate separation, independence, and support for each person in the relationship.
The purpose of boundaries is to protect our values and what is important to us. Boundaries support our values by ensuring we consciously limit how we spend resources, such as time, energy, and emotions, on what really matters to us. Our values are unique to ourselves – you may value openness, while the other person in the relationship may value integrity. As a result, our boundaries are also unique to the individual.
Boundaries are about setting appropriate limits; however, the appropriateness may depend on the setting or context. For example, a joke that may be appropriate with friends may be inappropriate at work. Boundaries may also be affected by cultural expectations, such as appropriate public displays of affection.
1. Know Your Boundaries: boundaries should be based on your values. If you don’t know what you are trying to protect, there is very little motivation to set boundaries. Ask yourself what is important to you, what you need from certain relationships, or what you want to protect? Also, consider what roles you are willing to play in a relationship? E.g., carer, acquaintance, confidant, etc.
2. Plan Boundaries: when you communicate a boundary with someone else, you are more likely to succeed if you plan what you will say, when you will say it, and how you will say it. Ask yourself what message do you want to get across and what are you willing to accept? Consider what has previously stopped you from placing boundaries.
3. Communicate your Boundaries: ensure you are clear and concise about what is bothering you and what your limits are. You do not need to explain why a boundary is important to you, but it can help the other person understand your perspective. Use confident body language, a respectful attitude, and a firm tone.
4. Continue to Set Boundaries: it may take time for them to interact with you in this new way. Remind them each time they cross the boundary.
5. Know your Limits: if you are repeatedly trying to set boundaries with someone and they will not respect your wishes, it is important to know when to draw the line. You are in control of your exposure to this person and you can choose to withdraw or limit your exposure. Consider how long you are willing to try to set the boundary. Remember, without boundaries your values, the relationships you have with others, and your mental health, are all at risk.
P: 1300 364 273 (24/7) | SMS or Live Chat: 0401 337 711 | W: acaciaconnection.com