A boundary is defined as a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line; a limit of a subject or sphere of activity.
And, while it can be a physical boundary like a line between states, it’s often spoken of in personal terms – as in, “You need to set some boundaries with your in-laws.”
So, have you had to set boundaries in your life? Maybe boundaries with work? Or family members?
It can be hard, but sometimes it’s necessary.
- Make your relationships better
- Improve your self-esteem
- Help you become more independent
- Allow you to grow
How to Set Boundaries
If you haven’t set boundaries in the past, but you’re ready to now – here are some thoughts to help you do just that.
- Decide on your limits: It’s important to know your limits. For example, are you going to stop answering work emails at 5 p.m. each day? Are you going to ask that family members not stop by without calling first? Know what your limits are so you can share them with those who need to know.
- Be aware of your feelings: If you are setting boundaries, there are probably some strong feelings behind this decision? Do you feel overworked? Do you feel emotionally drained? When you can attach your feeling to the boundary you are establishing, people are more likely to respect it.
- Don’t beat around the bush: How do you feel about telling people that you are setting up some boundaries? It may seem a little scary. After all, what are people going to think if you’re no longer answering text messages at all hours of the day and night? But don’t beat around the bush. Share your new boundaries politely but firmly.
- Learn to say no: Guess what? People are still going to test the boundaries you establish. Text messages are going to continue to come in. But learn to say no – to yourself and to those not respecting the boundaries. Tell yourself that you’re not going to respond to that text message until tomorrow, and gently remind the person who sent it why the response was not immediate.
- Keep safe spaces: Boundaries are about keeping safe spaces, and often, this involves your home or time. Be aware of the areas of your life you need to protect when setting boundaries.
- Ask for help: You may need to ask friends, family, and coworkers for help – and that’s okay. You’ll find that most people are supportive of boundaries – because they have their very own and know the importance of them. You can share what you need help with and hope that everyone is on board.
- Take responsibility for yourself: But also know that you need to be responsible for yourself. Others may help you – initially – and then they go on with their lives and forget about what boundaries you’ve set up. But you know what you want – so work to make it happen.
- Realize you can’t change others: Know that the only person who can change is…YOU. While you can hope that others will follow your lead – it may not happen. And that’s okay.
- Know that boundaries can be flexible: And keep in mind that personal boundaries, unlike those between states or countries, are flexible. If you need to change things up – do it! If something is not working at the moment – change it! Do what works for you!
Setting boundaries in your life – whether it be for work or with family, or with your time – can be very empowering. Use these tips to help you establish boundaries that are going to work for you and improve your quality of life.