Strong and healthy personal boundaries are all about you in your relationships and the outside world. It helps you distinguish between your needs and wants and those of others. Limits serve as guidelines to know which emotions and responsibilities belong to you. It empowers you to decide how involved you want to be with a person or in a situation. In short, it provides a safe space where you can live freely and be yourself.
It may be challenging to recognize boundaries when you are in a relationship. Therefore, it is essential to consider who you are and what you need from a relationship. Remember that the other person will also have boundaries, and both will have to negotiate the relationship through these guidelines. If you do not know which boundaries belong to you, they may become intermingled. It may lead you into an unhealthy relationship.
So, what can you expect from a healthy relationship?
- To feel safe
- Your privacy and boundaries are respected
- To be listened to and heard
- It would help if you felt validated
- You are valued and appreciated
- “No” means “no.”
- Your needs are met.
- You are treated with respect. It implies no abuse whatever.
How do you know which boundaries are yours?
If you are used to focusing on other people’s needs and wishes, you may learn to always say yes to everything they want. It may keep you from looking after yourself. In the end, you may not even know what you want and need. Therefore, you need to consider your needs and wants are careful.
So, how do you know what your needs and wants are? Let’s look at some strategies to help you with this.
Know what your values are.
Knowing your personal values is essential for setting strong and healthy personal boundaries. Your values indicate what you find acceptable or not. It signifies what is vital to you and how you want to live your life. So, make sure what really matters to you and set your boundaries accordingly.
Some critical values may be saving money, spending time with family, or increasing your knowledge. You may set boundaries around spending money when you are available to your friends or making time to study.
These boundaries act as a map according to which you live your life.
But let’s look at another strategy.
Be aware of your emotions.
Your emotions are the strongest indicator of your personal wants and needs. If your child comes bursting into your room while dressing, you may react angrily. That feeling is an indication of a boundary that was violated. You may feel used and even abused when a colleague routinely dumps her work in your lap. This feeling also indicates an infringed boundary. However, if you feel comfortable and happy in a relationship, your limits are in place and respected.
If you understand your response to these interactions, it will help you to recognize your boundaries. Always sit back and ask yourself how you are feeling now. What is going on in your body? Is there something uncomfortable that you need to tend to? Minding these feelings will help you to establish strong and healthy personal boundaries.
Then it is time to think about strong and healthy personal boundaries
Your thoughts may help you distinguish between healthy and unhealthy relationships. It enables you to set firm boundaries in unhealthy ones. If a friend constantly criticizes what you decide, you may start to question yourself or the validity of your decisions. A co-worker that is always unhappy with your work may provoke negative thoughts about the quality of your work. So, unhealthy relationships may cause low self-worth and low self-esteem. When this happens, it is time to set strong and healthy personal boundaries. You can decide to spend less time with your criticizing friend or stop her when she criticizes you.
Another strategy will be to ask for advice.
Talk to others
Sometimes we get stuck and do not know how to handle a difficult situation. Then it is time to ask someone you trust. It may be interesting to hear about their boundaries and why they have them in place. Sometimes you can learn from them, and you may adjust your boundaries to be more suitable for the situation. Remember that boundaries are known from a young age. The guidelines that you learned as a child are probably not applicable anymore. It may be time to change. Have an open mind.
At first, start small.
It may be overwhelming to start with everything at once. Think about the most important or most troubling relationship and start there. Make sure that you are comfortable with your guidelines, and then be consistent. Consistency does not mean rigidity. You can change a boundary, but you must keep your limits consistent.
What do strong and healthy personal boundaries look like?
Boundaries are limits that you set in relationships. To establish strong, healthy personal boundaries, you need to convey what you will or will not allow. Also, offer an alternative that is acceptable to you. You must be firm and straight. So, let’s see how to set an excellent firm boundary.
Use The sandwich method to set strong and healthy personal boundaries
Sometimes it is hard to set a boundary, and this method will help to soften it. It means that you position the hard thing between two easier things. It may sound like this:
Soft: Thank you so much for the invitation.
Hard: However, I am dreadfully tired and need some time for myself.
Soft: Can we do it another time?
Use “I” statements
Instead of blaming others, an “I” statement explains why the boundary is important to you. An example is, “I worry when you are not at home after 12. I will feel less anxious if you let me know when I can expect you.” When you use an “I” statement, people do not become defensive and will not take it personally.
Sometimes you must explain the boundary.
In some situations, the sandwich method will not work. Then you will need to explain the boundary better. The violation of a limit must have a consequence. Be specific with what the problem is and state the result clearly. You can use examples to ensure that the other person understands what you need.
There must be consequences for the infringement of strong and healthy personal boundaries
An essential part of setting a boundary is that there must be a consequence for overstepping the limit. It must be something that you are willing to follow through with. If you have a friend that constantly wants to borrow money from you, you may say, “I feel uncomfortable when you ask me for money. When you do that again, I will put down the phone.”
You must follow through with the consequence.
When you set the boundary and the consequence, you must stick to it. You must put down the phone, leave the room, take away the iPad, spend less time with your friend, do what you said. A boundary without a consequence is worth nothing.
It may be the hardest thing to do. Remember, a boundary serves to make you safe. It is not to harm another person. The value of limitations works both ways. When you set clear limits, the other person also understands better how to handle the situation. Good boundaries may reduce many unpleasant thoughts and feelings.
Although some boundaries will be rigid (like the boundaries you set in an abusive relationship), most limits are flexible. You can change and adapt them according to your changing desires and values.
If you struggled with loose boundaries and now suddenly are strict, you can expect resistance from friends and family. They may resent you and call you selfish. When you prioritize your own life, they will be less comfy. It means that they will have to meet more of their own needs, which is good. Remember that we are all responsible for our own lives.
You can also read more about strong personal boundaries in the article Strong personal boundaries – What do you know about it?
Do you know a friend that may benefit from setting strong and healthy personal boundaries? Please share the article.