Setting Healthy Boundaries
The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.
Setting boundaries is an often underrated and overlooked aspect of self-care. But unlike more intuitive aspects like healthy eating and exercise, healthy boundaries are pretty nebulous to identify and even trickier to set. As most of us were not taught how to do it nor told how important it is when we are fostering healthy relationships.
So What Does It Mean To “Set Healthy Boundaries”?
Boundaries aren’t as obvious as a fence or a giant “no trespassing” sign, but more like a force field around yourself.
They are a way of honouring yourself, the work you do, the relationships you keep.
By communicating our boundaries, we can also let other people make decisions based on our comfort levels.
Healthy boundaries give us a sense of empowerment and agency.
More importantly, boundaries allow us to define our individualities better and can help indicate what we will and will not hold ourselves accountable for.
We can really think of setting boundaries as fortifying our relationships with others and ourselves rather than building walls. They allow us to conserve our emotional energy and avoid resentment while also gradually giving us space to grow and be vulnerable.
Here are some broad guidelines we believe can work with any kind of relationship (including the one with yourself, your loved ones and your colleagues too):
⟶ Being clear about what you need/want to accomplish by setting boundaries.
This could mean saying no to taking up work over the weekends so that you avoid burnout and strike a balance between work and personal life. This could also transpire when you want to spend money intentionally and you say no to plans when they exceed your budget.
⟶ Use your personal values as a guide.
By being specific and starting with a positive statement of intent (I want, I will, I can…) and have some indication of the result. For example; I want “me-time” before I sleep, so I will stop scrolling on my phone post 9:30 pm and read 10 pages of a book instead.
⟶ Boundaries are extremely personal decisions.
They are broad statements of intent which save you time and energy in making lots of mini decisions about YOUR daily life. So what may work for some other person, may not be practical for yours? We believe there’s no boundary too big or too small - at the end of the day, it is to help you not hinder you. This could be as substantial as reducing contact with someone you believe brings you discomfort or drains your energy. Or it could be something like reducing your caffeine intake to just one cup of coffee a day.
⟶ Realise that it takes practice and patience.
There could be chances of feeling guilty and uncomfortable when you begin enforcing your boundaries, at the risk of disappointing someone else. But the more you use and practice them, the better they’ll work for you and the more comfortable you get with them. Sometimes you’ll even have to tweak them around for it to work.
⟶ Respect others’ boundaries as much as you expect them to respect yours.
We believe this is the most important guideline of them all. If we unintentionally or unknowingly overstep a boundary with someone, taking accountability and apologising upfront can help in rebuilding trust.
Trusting your instincts, communicating transparently and being true to yourself are important foundations for preserving and setting boundaries. Boundaries may be associated with conflict, but as you get more comfortable with it, they will instil a sense of gratitude and mental well-being.
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