How to Create Boundaries for a Healthy Life
Boundaries play an essential role in creating a healthy life. Setting boundaries is like having a stop sign or border between yourself and others. Every area of your life should have clear boundaries, including your personal and work. In addition, boundaries teach people how to treat you, so they know what you will and won’t accept.
Have you ever agreed to do something and later regretted saying yes? Even if your intentions are good, you may run into issues if you aren’t consistent with keeping boundaries. People-pleasing or insecurities may contribute to you taking on more than you can handle, leading to frustration or even getting upset with yourself or others.
Learning How to Express Yourself
Often, people don’t try to overstep our boundaries; they simply don’t know what they are. We cannot assume or expect others to understand how we feel if we do not directly communicate our intentions. It’s important to be clear and consistent to avoid confusion.
Type of boundaries:
- Rigid Boundaries
- Lose (Porous) Boundaries
- Nonexistent Boundaries
- Healthy Boundaries
Setting up walls, avoiding intimacy and close relationships, or keeping people at a distance are examples of rigid boundaries. Someone who sets rigid boundaries is unlikely to ask for help, has very few close relationships, is protective of personal information, and often appears detached (even to romantic partners).
Porous Boundaries or Nonexistent Boundaries
Porous or nonexistent boundaries often have the same consequences. When we don’t say no to requests or share too much, we risk becoming people-pleasers. Additionally, accepting bad behavior to avoid hurting others often hurts us instead. Not having boundaries opens the door to becoming overinvolved with others’ problems and opinions, leading to losing ourselves or co-dependency.
Healthy Boundaries fall between Rigid and Porous Boundaries. Knowing and communicating your wants and needs and saying “No” are examples of setting healthy boundaries. Not compromising your values or beliefs for others’ opinions and values and sharing appropriate information rather than oversharing is necessary for healthy boundaries.
Having healthy boundaries in one setting does not necessarily mean boundaries are applied in every setting. For example, it’s possible to have good boundaries at work and unhealthy boundaries in your personal life or vice versa.
Establishing boundaries is crucial for mental health, relationship well-being and necessary for self-care.
The Benefits of Healthy Relationships
- Good mental and emotional health
- Developed autonomy and identity
- Helps to deter burnout and bad behavior influence
Unclear or inconsistent boundaries can lead to conflict, others feeling disrespected or slighted, stress, relationship issues, wasted time, and financial problems. Worse, failing to create boundaries may lead you to put yourself in dangerous situations.
Your core beliefs, values, needs, and desires usually influence how you set boundaries, so it’s important to consider every area of your life when creating boundaries.
Tips for setting and maintaining boundaries
- Self-reflection is important to know why you may need to set boundaries and in what area, as well as the consequences if you don’t—also, understanding how situations make you feel.
- Starting small is good because it allows you to ease into your boundaries and make changes as needed.
- Setting boundaries earlier is best but not always possible if you don’t start with them. When boundaries are established early, others know what to expect and where you stand. If you don’t set them earlier, you can still set them by clearly communicating your boundaries.
- Be consistent. It’s important to stick to your boundaries to avoid confusion. If you aren’t consistent, others will not know where you draw the line.
- Clearly communicate your boundaries with those in your life. You cannot assume other people know your boundaries if you don’t share them.
The Value in Saying “NO.”
Setting boundaries is your responsibility to yourself and others. You decide how people can and won’t treat you. Although you cannot control the actions of others, you can control what you accept and tolerate.
If you need help setting boundaries, it may be beneficial to work with a therapist. Check out Connect2Heal to find a licensed therapist available to help.