Updated: Feb 16, 2022
Alright y’all, let’s be honest with ourselves for just a minute… let’s talk about boundaries.
Boundaries are standards you set for your personal peace of mind and your health on how you allow yourself to be treated by others and what you’re willing to do.
Why is it important to set boundaries?
No one will stand up for you, that is your responsibility. People will treat you how you allow them to treat you. Setting boundaries is absolute necessity for self care and self respect.
Setting boundaries is necessary for every relationship and aspect of your life.
Boundaries will look different for each aspect of your life and each type of relationship.
Certain conversations may be fine between a spouse or close friends, but may be completely inappropriate for co-workers, in-laws, or acquaintances.
Types of Boundaries
Physical: This relates to your personal space and physical touch. (Discovery: Do you prefer hugs, handshakes, or none of the above?)
Emotional: These boundaries limit sensitive topics, personal information, emotional dumping, and emotional intelligence. (Discovery: When and with whom am I willing to speak about sensitive topics? When do I feel safe sharing personal information? Are I able to separate my emotions from those of others? Am I in a place within myself that I can allow a friend to emotionally vent without overwhelming myself?)
Mental: Sets boundaries on appropriate discussion topics, and respecting thoughts and ideas that may not align with yours. (Discovery: Am I able to voice my opinions in a respectful manner? Do I listen to others differing thoughts and opinions without becoming defensive or taking it personally?)
Material: This type sets limits on what money or possessions you're willing to share and with whom. (Discovery: Am I comfortable with lending or sharing this and possibly not getting it back? Am I comfortable with sharing my money, book, movie, car, home, toothbrush with this person?)
Intimacy: Boundaries surrounding emotional, physical, and intellectual parts of sexuality. (Discovery: all of the who, what, when, where questions surrounding intimacy and sexuality)
Spiritual: These boundaries regarding beliefs and conversations surrounding your beliefs and experiences. (Discovery: What practices, services, ceremonies, rituals are the most important to you? When do you set aside time for these? What preparations do you need to make for them?)
Time: This type refers to how your time is used and your priorities. (Discovery: Do I have enough energy to take on another project, activity, responsibility? Do I need to remove a commitment or two to better my mental health and stress level? What time commitments can I rearrange to make things easier?)
What do boundaries look like in action?
-Being intentional with the use of your time and energy so you have more of it for the things that matter most to you.
-Making time for your needs: eating, doing yoga/zumba/jogging/sumo wrestling, relaxing, resting, painting or whatever hobby.
-Saying no to a favor for someone else, because you have other commitments, your plate is already full, you’re tired, or because you simply don’t want to.
-Saying no to an extra shift so you can have time to spend with your family or go to that class you’ve been thinking about trying.
-Saying "no" when someone gives you unsolicited advice. You can also smile and excuse yourself, change the subject, not respond to the message/text, or politely respond that you prefer not to discuss the subject.
- Saying no when someone tries to pry into personal matters.
Example: your finances (Literally ANYTHING pertaining to finances. YES, even if you are FAMILY, unless you owe them money.)
when you’ll make a major life decision (marriage, having children, going back to work)
- Saying no when people ask about your beliefs (religion, political, health, vaccination, gun laws or really anything controversial)
- Saying no to criticism from people outside of the group with that privilege (usually spouse or significant other, best friend, mentor, or maybe parents)
- Saying no to caring about everyone’s opinions or worrying what others think of you. Honestly, it’s a waste of energy. Just do your best.
- Saying no to people showing up to your home without advance notice. That’s just rude.
- Saying no when someone verbally dumps all of their problems on you.
How do you set your own boundaries?
Start by writing it all down.
You need to be honest with yourself about what you need with your time, energy, and commitments. The discovery questions above may be helpful.
What are the consequences for different degrees of violations? What do you want to do or say? Be mindful of the severity of the violation, and the intention behind the act. Example: was it malicious or were they trying to be helpful?
Your boundaries will also need to be adjusted as circumstances change. You will know when it is necessary.
Remember setting boundaries is respecting yourself.
Being on the other side…
If you want to give someone advice, ask first.
If you ask them for a favor, or try to make plans, respect their answer. They do not owe you an explanation.
If you want to ask a personal question, ask for permission.
If you want to vent to someone (listening can be taxing), ask first.
Remember it is ok to have different views, and you can be friends with others that have differing or even opposite views. You can discuss views respectfully without disrespecting or attacking another person with differing views. Who knows, you could learn something, or gain understanding (and gaining understanding does not mean you have to agree.)
Being disrespectful to someone else because they have different interests or different views, makes you the jerk. Disrespecting someone else’s boundaries also makes you the jerk. The only exception to this case is when bullying or abuse is taking place, which is never ok.
Be respectful to others but don’t allow yourself to be a doormat. Set boundaries. You will thank yourself.