Many of us start thinking about boundaries as a form of damage control after the worst has already been done. At times, when we have been hurt too much, we create unhealthy walls to protect ourselves, not realising that in the long term this will just hurt us more.
Healthy boundaries are a way of putting ourselves first, understanding what is right for us and what isn’t and it helps us respect ourselves whilst teaching others how to love and respect us.
An important aspect of loving ourselves and showing others how we need to be loved is by creating healthy and clear boundaries. Healthy boundaries allow us to be ourselves unapologetically, they allow us to express vulnerability and allow others into our safe space.
Boundaries will not ensure that you will never be hurt again, or that everything will now be rosy. They just help you understand yourself better, allow for growth and make sure others cannot take advantage of your vulnerabilities.
Everyones boundaries will be different according to individualistic needs. Boundaries will evolve and change to cater to different stages of your life and what you need to feel safe in different environments and relationships as you grow.
I cant tell you what your boundaries should be, but maybe give you things to consider when establishing your own ones effectively.
To establish good boundaries, we need to..
1. Understand our limits.
In order to establish clear boundaries we need to understand our limits so these can be referred back to and communicated.
It is important for you to identify your physical, emotional and spiritual limits for yourself so you do not push yourself beyond these limits and feel used or resentful. You can use past experiences as a reference here and think about what you can accept and tolerate and what you find stressful, upsetting and uncomfortable.
This gives you a basic guideline of what is ok for you and what isn’t. For example you can tolerate someone turning up late if they have let you know and have a valid reason. But someone who consistently doesn’t value your time, doesn’t turn up, or acts as if it isn’t a big deal that they are really late, might be a limit which needs to be addressed.
2. Trust our instincts and tune into our feelings.
If something doesn’t feel right, if a situation or person makes you feel uncomfortable, it is usually a sign that they are crossing a boundary or violating it in some way.
Often we feel guilty and emotionally compromised when we feel this way towards someone we love or someone we feel duty bound to. But it is really important when we do feel this way to dig a little deeper and try to understand why.
Are you always putting the needs of others before yourself? Do you go above and beyond and feel taken advantage of but not appreciated?
Really think about how you feel, don’t dismiss these feelings by brushing them off by making excuses for others and think about what you need from you to avoid a repeat of the same situation.
3. Make Self care a priority
When we give ourself permission to put ourself first, setting boundaries becomes a stronger instinctive process. Self care is not just running a bath, reading a good book or getting yourself pampered. It also means honouring your feelings and emotions by taking the time to understand the importance of them.
By doing this, we understand the emotional cues for our wellbeing and therefore what makes us happy or unhappy become more clear.
Taking time to put yourself first allows you to be a better you and gives you space to recharge and be more preset and a better daughter/ mother/ wife/ friend etc.
4. Hold ourselves and others accountable.
I think that excuses for your behaviour and the actions and behaviours of others can be the kryptonite for establishing boundaries. Saying things like “he didn’t really mean it that way, it doesn’t matter if I’m exhausted they need me, I thought she would realise I was upset” etc can result in an ongoing cycle of feeling hurt and then resentful.
You are only in control of your own actions and it is important that you do not violate your own boundaries by doing things that make you upset and uncomfortable knowingly.
If someone has done something wrong it is not for you to justify there actions because it can result in not only delaying putting boundaries in place, but can also make you get ‘stuck’ in toxic situations for longer than you need to be.
5. Start small.
It is difficult even for the most confident and assertive of us to set good boundaries and then put them into place by communicating them effectively.
By setting small boundaries you can build up this skill work towards setting bigger boundaries that you are still working towards.
Setting boundaries can be overwhelming and can make you feel anxious, by starting small you can practise these skills until you’ve mastered them (and you can and will!).
Start with a non-threatening boundary and then build up to more challenging ones. This will also guide you through understanding your limits which will in turn allow you to set bigger boundaries.
Setting boundaries takes courage, persistence, practise and support. Be confidant that it is a skill that can be mastered. If you are finding it particularly difficult to set boundaries it is really important to seek out help and support to guide you through the process.
Boundaries are there to safeguard your wellbeing without compromise. You should never have to adapt your boundaries to cater to the needs of others as they are there to make you feel safe.
Boundaries are not walls, they allow for healthy relationships to blossom. Instead of keeping loved ones out, they allow deserving people in.
Have you ever found it difficult to set boundaries or stick to them?
respect. love. heal always
Brown Girl N