If you want to feel more in control, more empowered, happier and less stressed in all your relationships setting clear boundaries is a good way to do that.
I’ve worked hard on setting healthy boundaries with family and friends. It was challenging when I first moved away from home, my family had a difficult time letting me go, as I did them. We called each other insentiently, my parents wanted to include me in every family problem that needed to be solved and I wanted to know everything I was missing. It took a significant amount of time to realize that physical distance didn’t equal psychological distance. I was still living with my parents in my mind even though I had left to attend University in another province. It took some getting used to but I made rules as to when we could talk and what we could talk about. They didn’t know about these rules because the rules were just for me.
Moving away helped me understand why boundaries were crucial to my sanity. I was forced to take a hard look at what I needed and how I wanted to interact with people around me. Not everyone needed to know what my boundaries were, as long as I knew what they were and what I was willing to accept and allow.
Boundaries are Your Rights And Rules
What are boundaries you might ask? Simply put, boundaries are personal limits based on self-respect. Boundaries can be invisible, such as emotional or mental boundaries or they can be visible like physical or sexual boundaries. Think of boundaries as the rights and rules of your life. They communicate your self-worth and confidence. When we see a person with strong personal boundaries, we immediately perceive that person positively. On the other hand, a person with weak personal boundaries looks to be insecure with low self-esteem. Those with weak boundaries will allow others to dictate their emotions and life. For example, someone with weak boundaries may miss their children’s important events because they were trying to appease their boss.
The purpose of setting boundaries is to reinforce sense of self-worth and identity and to protect from potential harm. When boundaries are adhered to, they help relationships flourish. But when boundaries have been crossed there is tension, we can feel taken advantage of, used or perhaps even worse.
Our identity is mapped out by how we manage things like our emotions, impulses, time and essentially our limits, physical or otherwise. For example, if you’re the type of person who can’t seem to find enough recreation time for yourself because you’ve devoted all free time to work and family, then you have unhealthy internal boundaries. Taking responsibility for creating recreation time by putting limits on work/family responsibilities empowers you by putting your needs first.
Boundaries are Flexible.
The best thing about boundaries is that they are flexible. Shifting your personal limits according to the situation gives you the freedom and fluidity within a relationship. Boundaries can also change over time. Work colleagues often have pretty clear boundaries while friends have pretty loose boundaries. If a work colleague becomes a friend or romantic partner, the boundaries inside that relationship will bend. Conversely, I recently had a friend cross a boundary. I felt her actions were a reflection of character and decided to create stricter boundaries for any future interaction.
Tactfully and openly communicating boundaries is often a difficult thing for most of us. It’s doubtful that we will eliminate offending those we are close to just because we have a certain set of boundaries. If you’re setting up new boundaries, it’s more likely the boundaries will be met with some opposition, possible grievances or even anger.
Relationships with clear communicated boundaries work more efficiently because both parties are aware of parameters within their relationship. There is also more accountability and responsibly in a healthy relationship with set boundaries. But, let’s not get confused here; a boundary is not an agreement with another person. Simply put, it’s your limit on certain things in your life that you are willing to allow or accept.
Boundaries are essential to creating fulfilling respectful relationships. At the core, boundaries are about respect for yourself and the people you have relationships with.