Setting Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries can feel daunting and if you have gone without boundaries for an extended period of time but a small shift in perspective can help you to approach boundaries in a more healthy way. Perhaps this is where you begin to view boundaries as healthy rules that can help you to navigate your relationships and your career.


Do you know and understand your own limits? Do you honor yourself by respecting the boundaries you have created, or do you negotiate your boundaries at the cost of your peace or space? You are not alone, it is not always easy to strike balance between healthy boundaries and rigid rules.


What to Consider When Setting Boundaries

  • Physical- Your personal space, your sexuality, your personal belonging, your time and energy

  • Mental

  • Spiritual- Culture, religion, ethics

  • Emotional- Your thoughts

All or just one of the categories above can lead to resentment. Oftentimes expectation and attachment to outcome is preconceived resentment. Preconceived resentment is preventable but certainly requires being an advocate for yourself.


When you become an advocate for yourself self-empowerment and self-esteem grow; your emotional energy is preserved; and you are, or become more independent and self-sufficient. You are responsible for your thoughts, feelings, and actions.


When Your Boundaries Have Been Crossed


As previously mentioned resentment is an indicator that your boundaries may have been crossed. In addition to resentment, discomfort will likely surface. It is important to be able to notice when you are experiencing these feelings.


Resentment usually “comes from being taken advantage of or not appreciated.” It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits because we feel guilty (and want to be a good daughter or wife, for instance), or someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on us, she said.
“When someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue to us they may be violating or crossing a boundary,” Gionta said.

Intimate relationships and familial relationships require balance between time spent together and time spent apart. How do you maintain your sense of self while still maintaining your relationship? Guilt can oftentimes come forth when saying no to loved ones, but you have the right to say no. It is important to remember no is a complete sentence.


Healthy relationships and self-respect requires boundaries.


Important Questions


When feelings of resentment or discomfort is important to be aware, and to consider some of the following questions--

  • What can I control?

  • What is making me feel stressed or resentful?

  • Is there reciprocity?

Honoring your needs and feelings is important, and vital to maintaining boundaries.


How to Practice Setting Boundaries


Self-Care


Self-care is a great practice for setting boundaries. When you practice self-care you enforce your boundaries and give yourself permission to take care of yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup, and when you practice self-care, being present becomes easier.


Be Assertive


When someone crosses a boundary it is important to speak up and stand up for yourself. It is always okay to respectfully communicate to someone when they have crossed a boundary. An important part of being assertive is speaking your truth.


Respect Your Own Time


Time is multifaceted, Perhaps this applies to you when dealing with others who are not punctual or considerate of your time or efforts to keep a schedule or make plans. It is okay to let people know that you have a plan because your time is valuable, and your schedule is busy, or not busy for a reason.


Your time, and work can create turbulence around boundaries. In some work environments there is pressure to perform, leading employees to believe they have to be readily available at odd hours or answer emails the minute they are received. Sometime going against the grain in a challenging work environment can leave you feeling like an outcast, but it is important to honor your station and your time.


Just because our cell phones are always within reach does not mean you are obligated to reply on other people’s time constraints. Set a boundary and let work, or friends, know you will return their call or email within 24 hours time and be sure you set yourself a work schedule.


Is your relationship with social media toxic? Social networks can become black holes, occupying absurd amounts of time. It is not necessary to return messages the minute they come, and responding to all of the comments should not feel pressured. Social networks were created to build connections, but were not initially created with the pressure to somehow show up and satisfy others with responses and likes. Setting a daily social media time limit can be helpful. Most phones nowadays are equipped with screen time trackers and will notify you once your self set time limit is reached.


You have the right to take up space. You have the right to be respected. You have the right to prioritize your needs. Follow your gut-- when you start to question your instincts, red flags are likely presenting themselves to you. Carefully consider why these feelings are surfacing, and start to practice setting your healthy boundaries.


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© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.