What are boundaries?
When thinking about boundaries, I like to compare them to the fence you construct around your property line to protect your home. This fence acts as a boundary between your personal space, and the space of your neighbors. When I see a fence, it is apparent to me that I should not cross without permission. However, not everyone gets this memo, both realistically and metaphorically. Think of your personal boundary as a protective barrier against others. Some people we allow to come close and others we keep at a distance. Many people are not cognizant of personal boundaries and therefore do not realize they are letting people walk on their metaphorical grass. If you struggle to maintain healthy boundaries, this message is for you!
How do I know if I am lacking healthy boundaries?
It is our responsibility to set healthy boundaries with the people in our lives. Some do not realize this or have never been taught how important it is for emotional well-being. A person with unbalanced boundaries will often take on the emotional burdens of others, build resentment toward others for crossing boundaries that were never explicitly marked, or feel like they have no control over their life. People-pleasing tendencies are one of the most common boundary violations. Growing up, you may have felt the need to prove that you are worthy of love, or had parents who were overcontrolling. The result? Unhealthy boundaries and the misconception that we must complete tasks to earn love.
Self-care, what’s that?
Self-care is vital for a healthy and productive lifestyle. If you are like me, you have likely experienced a time in your life when you put others before yourself. This goes back to the age-old metaphor of the oxygen mask on the airplane. Adults are instructed to put their oxygen masks on prior to helping their children during an emergency. Do you know why? You can’t save others before saving yourself. Another rich metaphor is that you cannot pour from an empty glass. This means you cannot give to others without first giving to yourself. Feeling exhausted, spread thin, and overwhelmed? These are all indications that you are struggling to establish healthy boundaries with those around you.
How to set appropriate boundaries
You will be amazed at how wonderful you feel once you establish healthy boundaries with those around you. Our closest relationships are the ones that are most vital to protect. When we first decide to establish boundaries with those we love, they may become upset. I know this is hard, but it is necessary for your own well-being. View other’s protest as a sign that you are accomplishing healthy boundaries. This is a good way to break the habit of pleasing others while dismissing ourselves, though it does take practice. Below are some tips on how to form healthy boundaries. Remember, you must protect your emotional “grass!”
- Set expectations upfront with others: When you are proactive in boundary setting, it provides a clear standard that others know they must follow if they wish to have a relationship with you.
- Reestablishing relational boundaries: Rebuilding a damaged boundary is more difficult because you have to reteach others how to treat you. When you have been a certain way for so long, it may be hard for them to see you and thus treat you differently. This can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be! When others become upset during this process, it usually means you are making progress in protecting your energy and well-being. And those that are healthy and value you and your relationship will adjust to your new boundaries.
- Make yourself a priority: By maintaining a balance between good deeds and self-care, you are better able to love yourself and those around you. When we allow others to invade our personal space (physically or mentally), we build resentment toward others. This is an unhealthy feeling that diminishes the quality of your relationships.
- Be Intentional with your time: Setting healthy boundaries with the things or people we spend our time with is vital to productivity. Remember, it is not your responsibility to pick up the slack of others!
Boundaries can be tough to build and maintain, but once you achieve them, you have more time to live the life you want! I have been in relationships, both with family and romantic partners that lacked healthy boundaries and I felt spent and empty. This is not the life that God intended us to live! Even Jesus set boundaries with his disciples and the people he helped. If Jesus spent all of his time pleasing others, how would he have created miracles? The answer is he probably wouldn’t have. If you are struggling to find time for your miracles, you are not alone. It is wise to seek help when you are struggling with boundaries, self-worth, and respect, especially if you have never done this before. At New Vision Counseling and Consulting, we are here to help you design the life of your dreams.
We have a highly trained team of therapists that can assist you in building a road map to a healthier you. We know how difficult life can get, and we have simple tips and advice for your personal situation. It is not uncommon to feel blinded by your current circumstances. Let us provide you with an objective and caring assessment on the areas of your life that need improvement. We thrive in providing a caring and empathetic environment where you can feel safe. We are waiting for your call and hope to hear from you soon. We can be reached by calling 405-921-7776.