Many people know what the word “boundaries” means, but they have no idea what they are. You might think of boundaries as something like a wired fence or a brick wall used to keep people out. Boundaries are a way to take care of ourselves. They reinforce self-love and self-respect by limiting the access that we allow others to have over us.
When you understand how to set and maintain boundaries, you can avoid feelings of resentment, anger, hurt and disappointment that build up when limits have been pushed.
Rigid vs. Loose Boundaries
Boundaries take many forms. They can range from being too rigid and strict or more open and
loose. If you have more rigid boundaries, you might:
- Keep others at a distance
- Have few close relationships
- Seem detached, even with intimate partners
If you have more loose boundaries, you might:
- Get too involved with others’ problems
- Find it difficult to say “no” to others’ requests
- Seek to please others for fear of rejection
- Overshare personal information with others
If you are not sure how to go about creating boundaries or effectively maintain existing ones,
try these approaches:
- It’s key to understand why each boundary you set is important to you and how it will benefit your emotional well-being.
Start small –
- Slowly build up more and more boundaries. Doing so at a comfortable pace and taking time to reflect on whether it’s heading in the right direction or if you need to make some tweaks can be extremely helpful.
Set them early –
- Sometimes it’s harder to set boundaries in pre-existing relationships. By setting boundaries and expectations from the very beginning, everyone knows where they stand, and feelings of hurt, confusion and frustration can be reduced.
Be consistent –
- Letting boundaries slide can be confusing and lead to new expectations or demands from those around you. Keeping things consistent and steady can help reinforce your beliefs and ensure those lines are clearly established.
Create a framework –
- Boundaries vary depending on the type of relationship. Consider getting an hour or two of alone time each weekend. This boundary could apply whether you live with a partner, have a busy social life with friends, or are close with family.
Feel free to add extras –
- In some aspects of our lives, there are already boundaries in place—such as in the workplace. But consider these the minimum. It’s okay for you to add some of your own boundaries. Doing so can help you feel more empowered.
Be aware of social media –
- Many of the social media platforms today have encouraged some considerable boundary blurring. If you deem a particular action as boundary-crossing in real life, your concerns are no less valid when it occurs digitally.
Talk, talk, talk –
- Communication is critical in the world of boundaries, especially if someone is consistently overstepping yours. While you might need to raise your concerns, these discussions do not need to be confrontational.
Be your biggest champion –
- A lot of boundaries come down to self-worth and self-value. If you’ve got a narrative in your head that says you’re worthless or undeserving, then you’re going to find it difficult to put boundaries in place that protect you.
Gain some perspective –
- Get a healthy level of thinking about boundaries. Not having boundaries can be detrimental to our mental health but going too far and overthinking them can also impact our emotional wellbeing. Have some boundaries but don’t be dictated by them.
About Grace Kim:
Grace Kim is a Resident in Counseling providing services at the Woodbridge location. She is a Qualified Mental Health Professional for Children (QMHP-C) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Grace has extensive experience in providing outpatient counseling services to children, adolescents, and young adults. She also has sufficient experience working with adult clients with longstanding substance abuse issues. She is an individual who has had her own share of mental health challenges and, with the help of those around her, has been able to overcome obstacles and barriers in her life. To learn more about Grace, visit HERE.