Boundaries are a crucial element to your mental health and they’re important for cultivating healthy personal relationships. Essentially, boundaries are tools that we use to teach others what is acceptable for us, and what is not. Boundaries are how you set parameters as to what you are willing to do and not do; personal boundaries are limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships. When we have healthy boundaries, we communicate clearly what we want and don’t want. We make decisions that allow us to thrive and be at our best. If we are without boundaries or they need developing, we often feel drained and have difficulty in our life and relationships.
Setting personal boundaries is a way to prevent us from feeling taken advantage of, burned out, or in need of defending ourselves. It can prevent us from developing unnecessary resentments by explaining to others what is not okay. A person with healthy boundaries is able to say ‘no’ effectively. A person with healthy boundaries also does not compromise their values for others. They share information in a way that is appropriate, meaning they do not over share or under share personal information. They know and understand their personal wants and needs and can communicate that. They are also accepting when others say ‘no’ to them. The appropriateness of boundaries depends largely on the setting. For example, how you interact while you are out with friends might be quite different than how you relate to coworkers in the workplace.
Setting boundaries is not easy. It means we need to be willing to have difficult and uncomfortable conversations for the sake of our own mental health and for the benefit of our relationships. If we don’t protect our personal boundaries for our own self-care then who will? When we are clear with our boundaries, it allows us to be more compassionate, loving, and empathetic in our relationships. Choose discomfort over resentment. Often, we assume that people will honor our boundaries because we give others that respect, but this is not always the case. While we have the power to choose who we interact with in our personal lives, other environments such as school or work don’t always give us this power. In these settings, it can be tricky dealing with boundary violations but responding appropriately helps to ensure that our relationships are mutually respectful.
Our boundaries will change for different people, and they may shift over time based on the conditions of your life and the evolution of a relationship. It’s important to check in with yourself to ensure that your boundaries are appropriate for you. Give yourself space and time to build up your tolerance. You may also feel supported by talking with a trusted therapist.