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Boundaries, what are they?

Healthy boundaries are a crucial component of self-care. 

That’s because “in work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries lead to resentment, anger, and burnout. Creating boundaries is an important part of establishing one’s identity and is a crucial aspect of mental-health and wellbeing.  

Boundaries can be emotional or physical and they can be flexible or firm. 
Healthy boundaries will often fall somewhere in-between that scale.

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What is a boundary?

A boundary is a limit or space between you and another person. A clear place where you begin and the other person ends. 
The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is, of course, to protect and take care of you.  
Healthy boundaries are those perimetres or rules put in place to help you remain emotionally and mentally stable.

Another way to think about boundaries is that some perimeters might be rigid, loose, somewhere in between, or even non-existent. A total lack of perimeters may indicate that we don’t have a strong identity or are entangled with someone else.  
 
Establishing healthy conditions can serve to craft one’s identity.  
 
Perimeters help people form their individuality and help people indicate what they will and will not hold themselves accountable for. Often, boundaries are psychological or emotional but they can also be physical.

Declining physical contact from an acquaintance or co-worker is an example of setting an important boundary and is as crucial as emotional perimeters, i.e. asking that same co-worker not to make unreasonable demands of your time.

Healthy Boundary Advantages:

Poor boundaries lead to feelings of resentment, anger and burnout.

Generally, the lack of perimeters consequently can cause stress, financial burden, wasted time and relationship issues. 

Lack of healthy boundaries negatively affects all aspects of someone’s life, creating mental distress. Setting perimeters is an important aspect of self-care and leading a mentally healthy life.  

Unlike more intuitive activities of self-care, like exercise and eating good food, setting healthy perimeters isn’t something the average person understands. In order for people to experience greater well-being and fulfilment, they must learn how to set healthy perimeters.  

What do healthy boundaries look like? 

One example would be a person asking their partner for one night each week alone, as opposed to seeing each other daily. 

Another example would be a new mother asking her partner to take on more responsibility with their baby (such as giving baths, going to the park with the baby, and so on) so that she can have more time to herself.  

One way that therapists can set clinical boundaries is by not connecting with their clients on social media (and being clear about this rule) so that they do not mix their professional responsibilities with their personal lives. Perimeters can be important in parent-child relationships.  

For example, parents might ask their child never to enter their bedroom without knocking first, in order to maintain some privacy.  
 
Children might ask their parents to never read their diaries or journals so that they can maintain some privacy of their own.

Parents can choose whether to respect a child’s proposed boundaries (they might reject some perimeters for safety reasons, for example), but it is important to be clear about the perimeters they do intend to respect in order to build trust with their children. 

How to set personal boundaries

Define 
Identify desired boundary 
 
Communicate 
Say specifically what you need 
 
Stay simple 
Don’t over explain 
 
Set consequences  
Say why it’s important and what would happen if your boundary were to be crossed.  

The first step of setting boundaries is examining the perimeters that already exist (or lack thereof) in one’s life. 

For example, a woman might decide that she has healthy boundaries with her romantic partner, but not with her friends and co-workers.  

From there, she can decide what types of perimeters she wants to set with her friends and co-workers. 

How to set those boundaries, simply say ‘no’ in a firm but friendly manner when you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do.  
 
You do not have to justify yourself.  
 
Not over explaining is an important part of setting boundaries because everyone has the right to determine what they do and not want to do.

An important point with boundary setting is to keep the primary focus on you and your needs. Instead of saying “You have to stop bothering me after work”  
 
A person could say…. “I need some time to myself when I get back from work.” 

It’s impossible to set boundaries without creating consequences

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Meaning, that when setting boundaries, it is important to state why they are important to you. 

For example, a person in an unhealthy relationship might say that his partner needs to start respecting his career goals if his partner wants to continue being in a relationship with him.

It is also crucial to only declare consequences that one is willing to follow through on, or else the boundaries will not be effective. 

In general, the key to setting boundaries is first figuring out what you want from your various relationships, setting perimeters based on those desires, and then being clear with yourself and with other people about those perimeters. 

Within relationships 

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Boundaries in relationships are especially important. When one person is in control of another, love cannot grow deeply and fully, as there is no freedom.

Healthy boundaries can be the difference between a happy, healthy relationship and a toxic dysfunctional relationship. 

The reason lack of perimeters can lead to unhealthy relationships happens because one partner may feel that he or she has no privacy anymore. 

On the other hand, too many boundaries can also be an issue, as in the case of people who refuse to spend time with the friends and family of their partner.  

The fact that perimeters are important in relationships underscores the importance of setting and respecting perimeters.  
 
It’s important to understand and respect each other’s boundaries in a long-term partnership, just as it’s important to respect the perimeters of people whom one does not know very well.

One good way to avoid crossing someone’s boundaries (and to avoid having one’s own boundaries crossed) is to have honest conversations about boundaries with people. 

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Do have any unique or interesting boundaries you could share with us at CherryDTV? We love to hear from you and your life experiences! xxx

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