Setting Healthy Boundaries
In relationships, ideally both people are able to balance togetherness with the space to be themselves and maintain their personal integrity. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in relationships, romantic or otherwise, with people who do not demonstrate awareness of, or attention to, personal boundaries. It is also true that people are often unsure about how to set clear boundaries for themselves, or how to build healthy relationships in which their limits are respected.
If you find yourself having a hard time creating healthy boundaries, here are some ways you can begin to do so:
Identify Your Limits
You can’t set boundaries unless you discover where you personally stand. Thinking about what you want in relationships, what behaviors are acceptable and where you feel comfortable drawing the line is important. It takes time to recognize what you will and will not tolerate in others, and your boundaries may differ between work colleagues, friends, family and romantic partners. Determine what makes you feel good and what makes you feel uncomfortable. Journaling thoughts and feelings regarding specific situations can be a useful tool in helping you to clarify your boundaries.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
People who have a hard time setting boundaries are often less attuned to their own emotions because they are prioritizing the feelings of others. Practice recognizing how you feel during interactions with others in order to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. If you feel uncomfortable, angry or upset, it is likely that this person is overstepping. Reiterate to this person what your boundaries are.
Make Self-Care a Priority
Put yourself and your needs first. This may feel selfish if you aren’t used to it or if you generally tend to focus on taking care of others. Self care is not selfish. Give yourself permission to take care of your feelings and needs, just as you would a good friend.
Speak with Someone
If your self-worth is strongly tied to pleasing others, you grew up in a family where others’ feelings were prioritized over your own, or you have not experienced healthy boundaries, you may find that setting clear limits is especially difficult. If you are interested in working on improving boundaries, self-esteem, and relationships through therapy, please get in touch with me. I look forward to meeting with you.