I don’t know about you babe, but I feel like I’ve had to really be strong with my personal boundaries lately. COVID-related restrictions are easing and everyone is rushing to put plans in the diary – dinner at this restaurant, drinks at that pub, BBQ at so-and-so’s house. Don’t get me wrong - I want to resume a ‘normal’ life as much as the next person, but at my own pace. Of course, I don’t want to let anyone down but I won’t be forced to do anything before I’m ready.
That’s a personal boundary of mine and it keeps ME from feeling overwhelmed, but I accept that everyone has their own perimeters and needs, and I’m ok with that too.
Here, we’ll look at how and where you might want to set boundaries for yourself and the positive difference it can make to how you feel.
Let’s dive in.
Getting to know your boundaries
It’ll probably surprise you how easy it is to identify your boundaries once you start paying attention.
The key really is to listen and tune into your feelings and emotions. Negative emotions can be red-flag signals that a boundary may need to be set. Don’t ignore the signs - explore exactly what has made you feel that way.
Here are just some common areas where people find they need to set boundaries:
Remember – your boundaries are NOT a judgement on another person’s boundaries. What’s good for you, may not be good for another person. And, just as you would want people to respect your boundaries, it’s important that you too have a mutual respect for the boundaries of others.
When you set boundaries (and stick to them!), you…
Stop giving away time that you need for yourself
Understand the relationships around you – who is reciprocal and understanding and who does not immediately (or may not ever) respect your boundaries
Protect your self-identity – what is you, what is NOT you
Honour your self-respect and set a precedence
Decrease negative feelings (resentment, frustration, dependence, submission, overwhelm, stress, tension, anxiety, discomfort)
Speak up when you feel that you’re being mistreated
No longer sacrifice your needs to satisfy another
Stop allowing others to impose their priorities, opinions, beliefs etc. on you
REMIND YOURSELF: What you are responsible for?
Your life and the way you choose to live it
Your freedom to make decisions
Your body and space
REMIND YOURSELF: What you are NOT responsible for?
How people respond to your boundaries
What people think of your choices
Having different boundaries from others around you
What do personal boundaries sound like?
“I do not respond to work emails at the weekend or after [X]pm during the week”
“I don’t have the money this month to go out to a bar”
“I don’t have sex with a new partner until we’ve been on at least [insert number] of dates”
“I need [X] nights a week to myself – not spending time with my partner, friends or family”
“I’m not comfortable talking about [insert here] so please don’t discuss it with me”
“Please don’t call me after [X]pm on a weeknight, that’s when I go to bed”
The 5 ‘do nots’
DO NOT be afraid to be direct and assertive
DO NOT fear the consequences of saying ‘NO’ (just remember the consequences of saying ‘YES’ when you don’t want to)
DO NOT feel the need to over-explain or justify. Your boundaries are not a suggestion and other people DO NOT have the right to try and change them
DO NOT accept or tolerate behaviours that make you feel uncomfortable
DO NOT feel guilty for putting yourself first, you are not selfish
Support is there
If you’re really struggling to sustain/enforce your personal boundaries, please seek support babe. Be it from a trusted friend or from coaching or counselling, you deserve healthy boundaries and all the benefits they will bring you.