Personal Boundaries – What they are?

Personal boundaries are basic guidelines that people create to establish how others are able to behave around them. 

Setting personal boundaries is the key to ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, supportive and caring.

Boundaries can be physical or emotional in nature, and they help distinguish the desires, needs, and preferences of one person from another. 

Why are personal boundaries important?

Personal boundaries are vital in order for us to thrive and be in healthy relationships. Having them in place allows us to communicate our needs and desires clearly without fear of repercussions. It is also used to set limits so that others don’t take advantage of us or are allowed to hurt us. It is a way for us to practice self-care and self-respect.

Individual’s boundaries can help them to determine who to let into their lives and to what extent. Boundaries also serve to help an individual establish and maintain their own identity by creating a clear distinction between them and others. When a person has weak boundaries, it may be more difficult to separate their own feelings from those of others.

How weak boundaries can impact us?

People with weak personal boundaries tend to be good listeners and the forever reliable friends that others will ‘emotionally dump’ on. This can leave them constantly feeling emotionally drained as they easily take on the emotions and needs of others.

If you don’t set personal boundaries, you are likely to constantly be at the mercies of others. This means you allow others to tell you how to think, act, and feel. It also means you tend to spend your time and energy doing what others want you to do over what you deep down want to do. In the long term this can lead to frustration and depression because you will feel unfulfilled.

Boundaries help protect people from intrusions from others. When an individual feels overwhelmed by the needs and requests of others, they may eventually come to feel as if their life has become chaotic and/or disorganized. That individual may have difficulty dealing with their own issues because they have come to feel responsible for helping others before themselves.

Why is it hard to set personal boundaries?

We all put other peoples’ needs and feelings before our own at some point in our lives. Setting boundaries isn’t selfish, it’s self-care. The guilt we feel is self-imposed based on a fear, when we don’t help we will not be liked or someone will abandon us. Boundaries aren’t meant to punish others; they are for our personal well-being and protection. We aren’t being rude or mean for not wanting your friend’s to kiss us every time we see them. But we fear any confrontation with them so we say nothing. 

6 Tips on how to set personal boundaries

1. Define your core values 

Who are you? What do you value? Once you get clear on what matters most to you, then you can take the bigger step of communicating this to others. Instead of creating your boundaries around a difficult relationship in your life, you must make your boundaries about you.

2. Be consistent and practice.

We can’t expect others to know how we’re feeling at any given moment, so we have to clearly communicate with others if they cross our boundaries. 

Because you are not used to it, at first, you may feel selfish, guilty or embarrassed when setting boundaries. It takes practice and determination. Remind yourself that you have a right to prioritise your own self-care. Don’t let anxiety, fear or guilt prevent you from taking care of yourself in this way.

3. Say No

No is a complete sentence. That truth may seem inconceivable, particularly if you hold onto biases that “no” makes you a mean person or bad friend. But saying “no” to other people often means saying “yes” to yourself.

Try to avoid lying about why you’re saying no. Although a white lie may seem harmless, it’s easy to forget what you said or get caught in your own deception. If someone finds out you lied to them, they will probably feel more betrayed and hurt than if you had just told them the truth.

4. Be direct, clear, and simple. 

When setting and enforcing boundaries, state what you need as clearly and calmly as possible. You don’t need to justify, defend, or apologize for your boundaries. You can always adjust the tone or manner with which you enforce your boundaries if you like, as well and get to decide how assertive to be, depending on your relationship with the other person, the circumstances, or even where your emotional ability lies on that day. If you are nervous or sensitive about certain boundaries, you can plan what you’d like to say to protect those limits in advance.. 

5. Respect others’ boundaries. 

Even though this step isn’t a part of creating your own boundaries, it’s an important part of enforcing them. When you respect the boundaries that the people around you have put in place, it sets an example for how you’d like your boundaries to be respected, too. It also gives you a foothold in case they don’t treat you with the same respect. You can explain that, just as you’ve respected their boundaries, they need to respect yours as well.

6. Seek Professional Support

Therapy can help you understand the barriers that make boundaries challenging. Your therapist can work with you on skills related to self-empowerment and assertiveness training. They can also teach you healthy coping skills to manage the emotional discomfort associated with setting limits.

Some common barriers include:

– Having a history of trauma

– Being in an abusive relationship

– Struggling with a mental health condition like depression or anxiety

Low self-esteem

– Growing up in a household with overly rigid boundaries or no boundaries at all

It’s important for all of us to set personal boundaries. They dictate how we approach relationships with others. Our boundaries help us live in-tune with our desires, needs, and feelings. We can say no to the things that we don’t want to do and yes to the things that we want to do..

If you’re experiencing challenges with setting boundaries, or if someone is causing you difficulty by crossing them, never hesitate to reach out to an online therapist.