What exactly are boundaries? Is setting up boundaries selfish? What happens if you unintentionally offend someone when setting boundaries? These might be some of the questions you might be pondering about, especially if boundaries are something foreign and unfamiliar to you.
Boundaries are imperative to establish a healthy balance between your needs and others’.
Setting up boundaries serves as your personal guidelines to creating your own personal space. Boundaries not only keep you physically safe, but also protects you spiritually, and emotionally.
Considering that our desires, needs and preferences vary from one another, the key to creating proper boundaries is in you. Only you know your limits and your comfort zones. However, it is easier said than done. As Brene Brown puts it, ‘
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others’.
Setting up boundaries often is misunderstood as a selfish act, unkind or mean. Society has taught us that putting oneself above others is selfish when in fact, it is an act of self-care. Hence, this led to most people compromising their boundaries, which could lead to strains in relationships. This is when setting healthy boundaries can come into play – to help relationships thrive; free from feelings of resentments, disappointments and violations. This is because the consistency of putting other people’s needs before your own essentially sends out the message to others that it is okay for you to be mistreated. Clearly, this should not be the message you should be giving to others. You should want to value yourself enough to prioritize your needs, and to be treated with respect and kindness.
These are several examples of boundaries you deserve to have:
Physical boundaries address your needs for personal space, your comfort with physical touches and your basic needs to rest, eat and drink.
For example, some people find it to be completely comforting and acceptable to hug and kiss upon the first meeting. While others find it to be invasive and uncomfortable. It varies in individuals. Therefore, what might be acceptable and comfortable for you might not be for others. This is why it is crucial to set boundaries and let others know of your limits. It is completely okay to inform others of your limits and your wants of space.
Healthy physical boundaries may sound like these:
When you find yourself in physical situations that bring about anxiety and discomfort, there is a chance your physical boundary is being violated. Being firm and vocal on your boundary can help make you feel safe and confident.
Emotional boundaries address the limits of your internal emotional experience. Setting emotional boundaries helps you to recognize just how much emotional energy you are capable of taking in from others. Alongside other emotional interactions that could drain your energy. To know your emotional boundary is to know when to share and when not to share information to others. Knowing when to limit emotional sharing to people that respond poorly is also a form of emotional boundary.
Respecting emotional boundaries would mean validating feelings of others and respecting their abilities to take in informational information.
These are some examples of violations of emotional boundary:
It is crucial to be aware of your limits and your tolerance level of your emotional experience with others. Otherwise, it could deteriorate your mental health.
Healthy emotional boundaries may sound like these:
Sexual boundaries address the importance of consent, respect and understanding of preferences, desires and privacy. Setting sexual boundaries are important in all types of relationships you have. Be it between friends, or even your spouses. Sexual boundaries could include the discussion of contraceptives and asking for consent.
Violations of sexual boundaries include:
Everyone’s sexual preferences and desires differ. It is important to recognize yours and communicate them across your sexual partner(s) when engaging in sexual acts to ensure your safety and comfort.
Healthy sexual boundaries sound like these:
“Is this comfortable for you?”
“Would you be open to trying out this?”
“Would you like me to use a condom?”
“Could we cuddle instead?”
Don’t be afraid to communicate your desires and your limits to your partners. Voice out and be consistent with your boundaries. Don’t stay quiet to please others at the expense of your own health and happiness.
Time boundary addresses your time. Everyone else has different priorities which means they utilise their time differently on different things. Setting time boundaries means understanding your priorities and managing it well to prevent overcommitting. It is important to set boundaries be it at work, home or socially. Understanding your priorities helps to limit the amount of time you give to others.
Violations of time boundary looks like these:
Healthy practice of time boundary looks something like these:
Overcommitting could negatively affect your physical and mental health. It is imperative that you don’t take on more stuff that you can carry. Delegating and prioritizing items on your list helps you recognize what is important and requires your immediate attention and what is not.
Material boundaries address your personal material possessions such as your car, money, home, etc. To have material boundaries is to have limits on how your possessions are treated, or when they can or cannot be used by others. It is perfectly okay to decide who you are comfortable sharing your personal items with, or if you don’t want to share at all. You don’t have to justify why. If your items are being used without your permission, stolen or destroyed, it is perfectly acceptable to have a reaction over it. This is because your material boundary is obviously being violated.
Examples of healthy material boundary can sound like this:
Having limits and being clear on your boundary is perfectly healthy as it avoids feelings of resentment over time.
Boundaries vary from person to person. Therefore, having an honest discussion and communicating your boundaries across others is crucial. However, setting and maintaining boundaries is difficult. Especially if you identify yourself as a people pleaser. Do you find yourself struggling to set boundaries or maintain them? Having problems with communicating them across to people?
Here at MINC.Care, we provide coaching and guidance to help you. It is never too late to seek help. You deserve a high quality of life.
Don’t know where to start? Contact us for coaching and other services.
Article prepared by Arinah, MINC.Care.