I often speak with clients who feel overwhelmed and exhausted by their commitments and relationships. They struggle to find time for themselves and feel like they're being pulled in too many directions. In situations like these, setting boundaries can be incredibly powerful.
Today, I want to talk about why setting boundaries is important and give you practical advice on how to do it.
First, let's define what we mean by boundaries. Boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves in terms of what we will and will not tolerate from others. They're about recognising our own needs and priorities, and making sure that we're not sacrificing our own well-being in order to please others.
There are several types of boundaries that we can set for ourselves:
Physical boundaries: These are about protecting our physical space and our bodies. For example, we might set boundaries around who can touch us and in what way, or how much personal space we need.
Emotional boundaries: These are about protecting our emotions and mental health. For example, we might set boundaries around what kind of behavior we will accept from others, or how much emotional labor we're willing to do for someone else.
Time boundaries: These are about protecting our time and energy. For example, we might set boundaries around how much time we're willing to spend on work or social commitments, or how much we need to prioritise self-care and rest.
So, how do you know what your boundaries are? It's important to take some time to reflect on your needs and priorities, and think about what makes you feel comfortable and happy. Here are a few questions to get you started:
What are my non-negotiables in my work, relationships, and social life?
What behavior from others makes me feel uncomfortable or unhappy?
What activities or situations drain my energy, and what gives me energy and joy?
Once you have a better understanding of your boundaries, it's important to communicate them clearly to others. Here are a few practical tips for setting boundaries:
Start small. Setting boundaries can be intimidating, so start with small boundaries and work your way up. For example, you might start by saying no to a social invitation that you don't feel up to, or asking a colleague not to interrupt you during certain times of the day.
Be clear and specific. When communicating your boundaries, be clear and specific about what you need and why. For example, instead of saying "I can't do that," try saying "I'm not comfortable with that because it goes against my values."
Stick to your boundaries. Once you've set a boundary, it's important to stick to it. This will help others to take your boundaries seriously and understand that you're not willing to compromise on them.
Remember, setting boundaries is about taking care of yourself and prioritizing your own well-being. It's not always easy, but it's incredibly important for developing confidence and maintaining healthy relationships. So, take some time to reflect on your boundaries, communicate them clearly, and stick to them. You deserve it.
Psychological Boundary Management: A Meta-Analytic Review, Westphal, K.J., & Bonanno, G.A. (2017)
Setting Boundaries: A Guide for Women, Aiken, N. (2017)