- Posted by Kristin Thompson
- On September 5, 2018
- 0 Comments
“Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen closely.”
– Molly Goode
What Are Healthy Boundaries?
What exactly is a boundary? Simply put, a boundary is a limit or space between you and the other person, a clear place where you begin and another person ends. Think of a boundary like a fence and you’re the gatekeeper. You decide who to let in or keep out. You can maintain a safe distance while you give others a chance to prove their trustworthiness, both physically and emotionally.
The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is, of course, to protect and take good care of you! Healthy boundaries are crucial components of self-care in all aspects of our lives. It’s an important part of establishing our identity, as well as being critical to our mental health and overall well-being.
Healthy boundaries are…
Flexibility means that we are able to be both close and distant. The ability to be flexible and adapt to the situation is key. When we practice flexibility, we are able to disconnect from toxic relationships. We are able to identify and connect with relationships that are nurturing and feed our soul.
Healthy boundaries keep us safe. By setting boundaries, we can avoid painful extremes in relationships: too close vs. too distant, giving too much vs. too little. We are able to protect ourselves against exploitation by others. By setting healthy and safe boundaries, we are able to read cues and tune into noticing when someone is abusive and selfish.
When we establish healthy boundaries, we are able to engage in blananced relationships with others and maintain them over time. We don’t put all of our energy into one relationship and end up neglecting others. As conflicts arise, you are able to work them out. Just like balancing of a teeter totter, too much weight on either side and it will tip. Balancing our boundaries means making slow and thoughtful decisions without moving to too quickly.
How To Set Healthy Boundaries
Healthy boundaries do not always come naturally or easily. We learn our boundaries or lack thereof, by modeling. We notice how our parents interacted, or the dynamics between our grandparents, and the relationships between our aunts, uncles, and whoever else was around on a regular basis.
If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, then chances are you have not learned how to set a boundary or even really what what it is. And you are not alone! Learning to set our own healthy boundaries is an exercise in personal freedom and growth. It’s a chance to get to know ourselves much better by increasing our awareness of where we stand and what we stand for. Sometimes this means letting go of the unhealthy people in our lives so that we can grow into the healthy person that we were meant to be.
Healthy boundaries require some radical honesty, both with ourselves and others. For some of us, we are unaware of how we’re feeling or want we need. Get to know you again. Set aside time for yourself and really tune in. It’s time to get a little selfish (in a good way) and think only about your dreams, desires, wishes, and wants. Once we understand ourselves we can communicate it more effectively to others.
In order to set healthy boundaries, we need learn to communicate without blaming. No more, “You make be so angry” or “You make me crazy” types of talk. Sometimes, these are the same messages we heard in our childhood, but things can be different.
Setting healthy boundaries means learning to communicate your wants and needs in a way that the other person will hear. The hope is to open a conversation, have a safe dialogue, and practice appropriate assertiveness. Try using “I” statements the next time you’re feeling unheard.
“I feel frustrated when you ___.”
Sometimes we are too enmeshed in our relationships and our boundaries are too loose. There needs to be limits and consequences to ensure safety. Lines need to be drawn. And we need to be ready to follow through. To set boundaries and not enforce them just gives the other person an excuse to continue the same old behavior.