So, what are boundaries?
Personal boundaries are to protect and respect the values and the areas of our lives that are important to us and they are essential if we want to be both physically and emotionally healthy. Having clear boundaries in your life is empowering, accepting the need to set and enforce limits within your life protects your self-esteem, maintain your self-respect, enjoy healthier relationships – personally and professionally.
Alongside this, clear and healthy boundaries are essential to living out your vision and goals and creating a fulfilling life, lack of healthy boundaries in your personal and professional life will pull you away from being your best.
Let’s get clear on what healthy boundaries look like:
So, to be clear here are some potentially unhealthy boundaries traits to look out for:
Areas of your life you need to check-in on, especially to set up a healthy work-life balance include: your time, your emotions, your intellect and your energy.
We often feel we never have enough time to focus on what’s really important in our lives yet time is often what we least protect through effective boundaries. Do you have friends who drop by unexpectedly? Do you have co-workers or employees who demand your time in unreasonable ways? Do you have tasks that could just as easily be completed by someone else? These are potentially unhealthy time boundaries. To have healthy time boundaries, we must set enough time for each area of our life, such as our careers, relationships and hobbies. We have unhealthy time boundaries when someone in your life demands too much of your time.
This refers to your feelings, healthy emotional boundaries include having limits on when to share when not to share information about yourself. For example, gradually sharing personal information about yourself during the growth of a relationship, rather than revealing everything to everyone. Emotional boundaries are broken when someone criticises, belittles, or invalidates another person’s feelings.
A way you can check-in on your emotional boundaries is to consider if you sacrifice your plans, dreams and goals in order to please others and not taking responsibilities for yourself and blaming others for your problems.
This refers to your thoughts and ideas. Healthy intellectual boundaries include respecting others ideas and an awareness of appropriate discussion points! Having people in your life that dismiss or belittle your thoughts or ideas – the people that don’t support or laugh at your goals – is breaking your intellectually boundary.
Your energy is your wellbeing, how you function to your best. This energy can come from many different sources – your alone time, inner peace, actives that invigorate you… When people in your life do or say things that rob you of this energy, such as invade your personal space, create upset and anger, make unreasonable demands and keep you from the things that restore your energy, you are unlikely to live your best life, create boundaries around your energy is essential to live out your dreams, vision and goals.
Use this list to assess the current state of your boundaries:
Healthy boundaries allow you to…
Potential barriers to setting boundaries include:
To set healthy boundaries first you need to have clarity on your personal and professional values. Once you have these defined, consider:
When do you find yourself feeling angry?
When do you experience resentment?
When do you find yourself whining or complaining?
These are areas of your life you’ve most likely not set up healthy boundaries, listen to yourself, determine what you need to do or say and then communicate assertively.
Another option is to complete the ‘circle of life’ and see where you’re lacking satisfaction in your life.
As you start to set boundaries in your life, it’s normal to feel selfish, guilty or embarrassed BUT do it anyway and remind yourself this is an act of self-care!
Like creating a new habit, setting boundaries takes practice and determination, try not to let anxiety, fear or guilt prevent you from looking after yourself. It will take time, it’s a process. Focus on setting them when you are ready, not because someone else tell you too. A great way to take your first step is to create a support system of people who respect your right to set boundaries, spend more time here and start to eliminate toxic people from your like – especially those who want to manipulate, abuse and control you.
When you’re ready to start setting healthy boundaries in your life use this activity to help you:
List at least 5 boundaries (either from the key areas above or other areas in your life) that need strengthening. In the space next to the boundary, identify a potential solution to that boundary issue. The solution could be anything from having a conversation with the offender to removing yourself from the situation.
The boundary being crossed: Example: I need to complete a weekly report at work each Friday morning but am continually interrupted by traffic in our office. This has caused me to miss a couple of deadlines.
The action I will take is: I plan to try to negotiate an arrangement with my manager that will enable me to work from home two hours each Friday morning so that I can complete the report without distractions.
As mentioned before it’s a practise and will take time, as well as overcoming any unhealthy beliefs you have, here’s some examples to help you create a mindset shift by reframing unhealthy beliefs for creating healthy boundaries:
I can never say ’no’ to others.
I have a right to say “no” to others if it is an invasion of my space or a violation of my rights.
As long as I am not seen or heard, I won’t be wrong or hurt.
I have a right to be visible and to be seen and heard. I will stand up for myself so that others can learn to respect my rights and my needs.
I should do everything I can to spend as much time together with you or else we won’t be a healthy family or group.
I have a right and a need to explore my own interests, hobbies and outlets so that I can bring back to this family or group my unique personality to enrich our lives rather than be lost in a closed and over enmeshed system.
Remember as you set your own healthy boundaries, it’s even more crucial to respect the boundaries others have set for themselves.
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