What is a Boundary?
A boundary is a limit or rule we set for ourselves to honor our inner and outer well-being. Whether that boundary is to protect ourselves, to reserve energy, resources and money, to stop ourselves from the urge to continuously give or “save” another, or simply to respect our personal goals and self-worth, it’s essential to build and maintain personal boundaries.
Personal boundaries are what separate us from giving too much of ourselves to things, people, and situations that do not serve our growth and progress. While it may appear ideal to be able to do everything and anything without limits, we cannot and should not exhaust ourselves of our personal needs. We are responsible for what we allow. Whether in relationships (familial or romantic), with friends, at work, or anywhere where we are interacting with others, practicing boundaries helps us to be in tune with ourselves and our values.
Something to Remember: We are not perfect and cannot do everything or please everyone at the expense of our mental, physical, or emotional well-being.
How can we, therefore, set boundaries that will help us prioritize our needs?
Self-Awareness and Boundary Setting
Increasing self-awareness is an important step when building and maintaining personal boundaries. The more we know who we are and what we are okay with, the more we can establish and sustain boundaries that serve us best. Understanding the balance between too much, too little, and the right amount of energy and effort can push us in the right direction in creating healthy boundaries.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help you reflect and understand whether you need to set stricter boundaries:
- How do I feel?
- How would I rather feel?
- Should I say no?
- Do I have time to spare?
- Does this make me feel uncomfortable?
- Is this benefiting me?
- Am I overexerting myself?
- Do I need to do this?
- Do I want to do this?
- Can I do this?
- Do I need time for myself?
- What is okay/not okay for me to do/say?
- When do I speak up?
- Does something need to end?
- What can I change?
- What do I have control over?
Getting into the habit of asking questions is not only a good idea for self-awareness, but also for increasing confidence. Becoming reflective in understanding what we deserve and in what we will tolerate will also aid in a better understanding of self-worth.
How Boundaries Help Strengthen our Mental Health
Boundaries allow us to build a stronger connection with ourselves. Understanding who we are will help us to become more centered and mindful of what is happening around us and to us. Stern boundaries will also help us to prioritize self-care, become more direct and open as well as vocal about our needs, beliefs and values. Being able to say no and express how we feel will give us the autonomy we need to improve our sense of self-worth. We will feel more comfortable expressing ideas and thoughts without shame, embarrassment, or hesitation.
Healthy boundaries can look like saying no when necessary, balancing self-care with work, cutting ties with toxic people and situations, speaking up without feeling like a burden, putting your needs before anyone else’s unapologetically, accepting that you cannot change or save anyone and not trying to, and giving yourself permission to feel and reflect without the opinion of others.
Affirmations to help Maintain and Sustain Positive Personal Boundaries:
- I set standards for myself and will stick to them.
- I know who I am and what is good for me.
- I understand my personal boundaries.
- I honor myself and my boundaries.
- I have a right to my feelings.
- I can firmly state my boundaries.
- I am confident in my ability to set boundaries with others.
- I will say no when necessary.
- I am safe.
- I am in control of my life.
Next Steps and Final Thoughts
As we move into a space of self-acceptance and self-awareness remember to honor your boundaries and give yourself permission to grow and reflect on your needs. Continuously grow in your boundaries in love and compassion for yourself.