In every single relationship of our lives, healthy boundaries are critical to a happy and functioning relationship for all parties involved. Think about all the toxic relationships you’ve ever had in your life. Why were they toxic? It’s because either one of you or both of you had poorly defined boundaries. What boundaries am I talking about here? All of them. From emotional boundaries to physical boundaries, even mental and spiritual boundaries.
Physical boundaries can be a little easier to set because it’s tangible and visceral, but internal boundaries can be understandably more complex and complicated. A boundary is essentially a limit. Navigating your own boundaries can be difficult because boundaries can be hard to define. It can be hard to set limits for yourself because it requires discipline and a lot of self-awareness. Not to mention some of the most important boundaries you will ever have to set will be with the people who are closest to you.
That being said, where might it be important to have healthy boundaries? Just about everywhere. But here are some examples:
- With your significant other
- With your coworkers
- With your boss
- With your employees
- With your roommates
- With your closest friends
- With your parents
The following are some tips that can make boundary setting a healthier, more consistent part of your life:
Recognize that it’s not your job to make others happy.
We’ve all heard it before… “True happiness comes from the inside.” Most of us know this to be true, so why do so many of us think that we can make someone else happy? The only person’s happiness you can control is yourself. If someone else needs you to behave or act in a certain way for them to be happy, then they are tragically giving their personal power away. That person is going to learn the hard way that happiness does not lie outside of them. Your job in setting boundaries is to first realize that it’s not your job to make others feel good or to make others happy. It can only be their job.
Make sure that your perception of boundaries is healthy.
If you’re someone who sees boundaries as a cumbersome limitation to your relationships, try and see boundaries as a way to honor your space. Boundaries can seem very tricky and limiting, especially to those of us who tend to take on a more open and curious outlook towards the world. But learn to see boundaries as a healthy tool to keep yourself happy and to protect yourself from the toxicity of others.
Learn to assert yourself honestly and effectively.
Conversations about boundaries can definitely be uncomfortable, but they definitely shouldn’t be harsh or confusing. You can’t expect people to respect your boundaries if you don’t tell them what they are. Assumptions are the enemy here. What you’re aiming for is honest and direct communication. You don’t want to beat around the bush or come up with unnecessary excuses. Do you like it when people BS you? No. So don’t do it to others. Be clear, be concise, and be respectful. Look at the boundaries conversation as a way to honor yourself and the healthy relationship you’re trying to cultivate.
Trust your intuition.
Boundaries can be difficult because sometimes you have to balance your needs with the needs of someone else. When a difficult decision like this has to be made, learn to trust your intuition. Pay attention to if you feel fearful or if you feel freedom with what your decision is. When fear or ego is in control, you will feel a sense of restriction, guilt, or shame. When it’s your intuition, you will feel a sense of quiet and calm knowing, as well as a freeing and expansive sensation. Learn to trust yourself wholly and emphatically, especially when it comes to listening to your heart and intuition.
Lastly, remember that the nature of this life is change and that boundaries are subject to undergoing change as well. You’re going to set many boundaries that you’re not going to want to change any under circumstance. You’re also going to find that at times it may be more beneficial for you to loosen up or tighten up on some of your boundaries. The key here is to be adaptable. Don’t hold on to anything that doesn’t serve you.
For further tips on how to set effective boundaries, check out Tess Brigham’s article: 3 Words You Have to Know to Set Boundaries that Stick