By Mary Olivia Verhulst

What are Boundaries

The concept of ‘setting boundaries’ seems controversial for many- but it is essential for all. Often when setting boundaries with a loved one, this conversation with friends or patients can be greeted with a sense of burden or fear. This makes boundary setting feel impossible – to take a deep, yet troubling relationship, and apply newfound rules that throw off the dynamic, or risk losing someone they love entirely. In our society, the term ‘boundary’, has been treated too harshly.

Boundary setting, in its essence, is identifying and honoring our own needs and limitations. This is not so much a malicious act upon another- but a fundamental obligation to ourselves. We must re-frame the way we have learned the phrase ‘boundary’, and ask ourselves what our emotional and physical well-being deserves, both in relationships and in life. By setting boundaries, whether they are personal, professional, or relationship boundaries, a sense of empowerment is gained. By realizing we need not be exposed to triggers, toxicity, or simply the feeling of being uncomfortable in a given situation, a sense of hopefulness may also be achieved in our lives.

5 Tips to Start Setting Boundaries In Your Life

1.) Identify your needs and the purpose of your needs. Knowing what purpose a need serves, or what the purpose of your boundary is, can remind you how valuable your mental health and well-being is to thrive.

2.) Be honest with yourself. Before you can get real with others, you have to get real with yourself. Try journaling what is bringing you down in certain scenarios and relationships, or holding you back in life. Sometimes this is as simple as answering the question “What feels wrong?” in the moment.

3.) Be direct – do not miscommunicate. No one else needs to know your purpose, but they do need to know what line should not be crossed in order to adhere to your boundary. Leave little room for misinterpretation; this can save you a lot of frustration.

4.) Focus on yourself. Don’t be in the business of fixing other people. This boundary is yours- not theirs!

5.) Have a support system – even if it is just you! Setting and sticking to a boundary can feel exhausting and intimidating. Remember to thank yourself, and reiterate why you are doing this. Ground yourself before you go into any troubling conversation, and soothe yourself when you come out with a breathing exercise or a reward. Here’s a good time to practice a self-care routine.

Identifying our limitations or boundaries in a relationship, work, or family dynamic can be difficult. Being honest with others is one thing- but being honest with ourselves can feel overwhelming.

If you’re struggling with boundary setting, consult with a therapist on the best way to navigate your situation. We are here to helpContact us today for individual or couples therapy. If our clinicians are not the right fit for you, we can help refer you to someone that will be.