Boundaries are a hot topic in our 24/7 world. You may have heard a friend or family member ask someone else to respect their boundaries and wondered what exactly they meant. Boundaries, healthy ones, prevent feelings of resentment, disappointment, or anger.
What is a no-go to one person might be perfectly fine to someone else. Those with too-strong boundaries typically:
- Don’t allow others to get too close to them
- Seem distant, even to those they are close to
- Avoid having a large friend group
- Keep relationships at arm’s length
Those who have created relaxed boundaries:
- Love other people’s drama
- Rarely say no
- People please
Those with healthy boundaries:
- Make expectations clear to all
- Demonstrate the type of behaviors others can expect of them
- Limit personal sharing
- Communicate personal needs
- Accept when others say no
Boundaries can change depending on circumstances and the person. They can also vary with each culture. Here are the four types of boundaries:
You may not like someone in your personal space or in your family’s business. A hug might be too much to some while a handshake is barely acceptable for others. During the pandemic, we saw our collective desire for personal space expand. Some have kept those parameters; others have not.
Concerning your thoughts and beliefs, these boundaries should be openly shared to prevent another person from dismissing another person’s ideas and opinions. Discussing a hot political topic should always be respectful and avoid name-calling.
Everyone has feelings. Not everyone likes to share these feelings. Some only share over a gradual period of time. It is important to note that skating personal questions should always be done respectfully. If a person doesn’t want to share, that is their right.
People have different saving and spending styles. Some are dead set against debt; others may categorize debt as bad or good. This can be a tricky subject when loans come up, as the person asking usually has a different spending style than the one being asked.
Creating boundaries is a unique process. Try these approaches.
Understand why certain boundaries are important to you. Sometimes a boundary you grew up with isn’t so important to you as an adult or if you move to a new country. Take inventory on conversations and actions you do not like and how having boundaries against it can benefit your mental health.
You may only have three boundaries in place currently and are overwhelmed at the thought of establishing more. Just start setting boundaries to feel what is right for you in certain situations. An easy boundary to begin is setting times you are available to talk on the phone. Pause and make tweaks as you go along.
You may be in the beginning stages of forming a connection to a client or friend. Set boundaries during this stage to make your expectations known. This can include topics you are willing to discuss and times available, allowing feelings of frustration or unpredictability to be minimized.
Exceptions to your boundaries should rarely be made if you want others to respect them. This relaxation can lead to confusion and resentment. Reinforce your boundaries after they have been established. Ask which consequences you can implement for yourself and others.
No matter which relationship a person has with you, establish basic boundaries. You may only want to be talked to in certain tones or avoid physical contact. A boundary that is perfect for the WFH era is to schedule alone time each weekend without screens or other distractions. Apply whether you live alone or with family.
As you establish and maintain boundaries, be mindful that colleagues and family members may have some of their own. These can include setting appropriate deadlines and meeting etiquette to enhance your performance and the group dynamic.
Limit social media
There are plenty of outlaws in the digital frontier. Social media means we are in more communication with others more than ever before. Boundaries are blurred on a daily basis, as there seems to be a lack of consequences for wild oversharing. Family and friends may post pictures or share intimate details that we may not want to be made public. Remove tags and specify to oversharers that you want your private life to remain so.
If you have a person in your life who insists on constantly messaging you, firmly let them know you will respond when you have time and hold yourself to that boundary.
Stop any narrative that may be playing in your head that you are undeserving of respect. Nurture your self-worth and self-value every day with positive self- talk. Enjoy activities that make you feel good to have an abundant contrast from when things don’t make you feel good.
Don’t overthink your boundaries. Sometimes we do have to make exceptions to support our emotional well-being. Trust your intuition when it comes to certain people and situations.
Boundaries are a form of self-care. Decide which ones are important and how to realistically implement them to protect yourself mentally and emotionally.