Boundary setting is essential when it comes to establishing a healthy relationship with yourself and others. Boundaries can be defined as limits that we set with others, determining what behaviors or conversations are acceptable or unacceptable in our relationships. Boundaries can take many different forms as they are set to address the individual needs of each partner involved. Boundaries tend to look different with each relationship you encounter and can change over time.
Why Are Boundaries Important?
Boundaries are a necessity when it comes to self-care. Oftentimes, boundaries are created as a last resort to maintain relationships. Instead, consider setting boundaries sooner to improve your relationships.
By setting personal boundaries, you establish guidelines for how you would like to be treated in your relationships with others. Boundaries can help to ensure mutual effort and balance, even in well-established relationships. Setting boundaries helps to foster personal confidence and greater self-esteem, promotes a clearer understanding of needs and values, and enhances your emotional and mental well-being.
Boundaries are important because they allow you to know when you are getting taken advantage of, give you permission to say no, and help you to draw a clear line between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. When you find yourself in uncomfortable situations because of how someone is acting towards you, consider your line crossed. To understand how to react calmly and appropriately when this occurs, set clear and firm boundaries with others.
Identify Your Personal Limits
Before you are able to set boundaries in your relationships, you need to identify your personal limits. Knowing your limits can take time, and they are best understood in high-stress or challenging situations. Think about experiences that you have had that have caused you to identify a limit in yourself. An example of a limit may include recognizing overwhelming feelings in yourself and having to practice healthy coping mechanisms. Other examples may include identifying your financial limits with spending, your limits on social engagement with others, or your limits about what you feel comfortable disclosing in regards to your personal life.
There are steps to identifying and understanding limits. It is important to remember that we all have limits, and identifying them will keep us from experiencing unnecessary mental and emotional distress. Consider these steps when identifying your limits:
- Stay realistic about your limitations. Recognize that weaknesses and limits are different and that personal limits must be identified in order to set healthy boundaries.
- Be specific with the limits that you are identifying. If you know that you get overwhelmed in social situations, set a specific amount of time that you allow yourself to go out and engage with others.
- Identify what conversation topics bring you stress or anxiety and when to remove yourself from certain discussions instead of challenging yourself to engage.
- You may need to test your limits in order to recognize them.
Establish Personal Boundaries
Once you are able to identify your own limitations, you are ready to try setting boundaries. Set boundaries with yourself before setting boundaries with others. Similar to identifying limits, boundary setting with yourself might look like prioritizing getting the right amount of sleep to function properly the following day. It can also look like knowing how many responsibilities you can take on in a given amount of time without feeling burned out. When it comes to setting boundaries with others, you may need to have a conversation with the people in your life in order to address the needs of the relationship. For example, if you and your loved one tend to engage in intense arguments, perhaps a boundary needs to be set that neither individual should raise their voice in order to feel heard. Try to identify new ways of feeling heard aside from using a loud or blunt tone.
Keep these things in mind when you are setting healthy boundaries:
- Recognize the wants and needs of each relationship, as every relationship differs. Some relationships may need firmer boundaries, while others may have loose boundaries. Your boundaries need to fit the needs of the relationship.
- Boundaries can be as simple as not allowing someone to criticize you or make comments about your weight or as persistent as not being able to discuss familial issues with you.
- Focus inward through self-reflection. Know what experiences bring about certain feelings, and recognize what current life choices are not healthy for your well-being.
- Although boundaries are best identified as limits, they can also be expectations. You may expect that your partner sticks up for you in social situations where you are not there. This can also be a boundary.
- Consider identifying boundaries that involve asking for permission, taking the feelings of one another into conscious account, showing constant gratitude, or respecting differences of opinions.
- Understand that boundaries are a necessary part of self-love and your willingness to maintain lasting relationships.
Personal boundaries are limits that we set for ourselves and for our relationships. Boundaries help to foster healthier relationships with one another and with ourselves. By setting boundaries, you are better able to recognize the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Boundaries help us to communicate our individual needs while prioritizing our mental health. In order to set useful boundaries, you must first be able to identify and recognize personal limitations. After doing so, you will be better able to understand how to establish boundaries to maintain long-lasting relationships. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we recognize the necessity of setting personal boundaries to maintain mental and emotional wellness. We are a motivated treatment center that fosters personal growth in our clients that will last a lifetime. If you are experiencing severe issues with your mental health or substance use, give us a call today at (760) 492-6509. We would love to speak with you!