Setting boundaries is an important part of establishing one’s identity, as well as being crucial for one’s mental health and well-being. There are different types of boundaries, from physical boundaries to emotional boundaries, and there are also different levels of boundaries, from loose to rigid, with healthy boundaries falling somewhere in between. Establishing healthy boundaries is something that people are often seeking guidance with at Healing Path Counselling Services.
Having boundaries means honouring ourselves as a separate individual with needs and wants that often differ from others. Without healthy boundaries, we allow others to override our own feelings and desires. The essence of boundaries is differentiating what we want from what others want from us. Defined below are various types of boundaries:
- What you feel comfortable lending
- You can tell someone you don’t want them to damage your belongings.
- Limits on time (your time is valuable)
- Limits on favors/services/labour
An example that includes a personal belonging as well as your time and labor is common to those who own pick-up trucks. If you have a pick-up truck, you’ve likely been asked by someone to help them move.
- Personal space
- WHO can touch you
- HOW they touch you
- WHERE they touch you
- WHEN they touch you
- Sexual boundaries
Coming too close can be accidental, or an attempt to intimidate you. If you don’t want to be touched on certain parts of your body, or at a specific time or social context, that should also be respected.
Trying to persuade another person can turn into a shouting match or intimidation when boundaries have been crossed.
Having indistinct emotional boundaries is common for people who are codependent.
Learn how to separate your feelings from other people’s feelings. Your feelings should not depend on other people’s thoughts, feelings, or moods. In this way, an emotional boundary is, in most cases, one that you set on yourself.
Once you have an understanding of the above boundaries as they relate to you, below are some tips to help you get started establishing boundaries in your relationships:
- Communicate your thoughts. Be honest, but respectful when sharing your thoughts and feelings. It’s normal and okay to need time to gather your thoughts and feelings, but don’t use that approach to avoid the conversation.
- Never assume or guess the other person’s feelings. Making assumptions can create a lot of misunderstandings in a relationship. You may feel like you know the other individual well that you feel you’re entitled to assume what they want or need without asking them, but it is always your best bet to ask rather than assume.
- Follow through on what you say. Setting boundaries and not executing them lets the other person think they have an excuse to continue to overstep your boundaries. You shouldn’t make any exceptions to your own boundaries without careful consideration because you may soon find yourself compromising on things that aren’t acceptable to you.
- Take responsibility for your actions. Instead of immediately blaming the other person for the situation or how you’re feeling, take a step back and think about the choices you’ve made and see if they may have contributed to the situation. Both parties should be doing this
- Know when it’s time to move on. You can only share how you desire to be treated in the relationship, and you can’t be responsible for the other person’s feelings or communication. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and fairness.
Above all else, give yourself permission to have your own feelings and not to take on the burden of other people’s feelings.
You don’t need to define yourself by your relationship to other people. You should not be defined by your job, marital status, or your family. Those things affect your responsibilities, but you are not responsible for the burden of how other people think you should feel, or how you believe they think you should feel.
- Know “where you end and I begin”.
- Separate identity—you are “your own person”.
- Be aware of your feelings.
- Be aware of your choices.
- You are responsible for your
It’s important to be aware that you are in control of your feelings. Your feelings are a choice.
Healing Path Counselling Services is always open to discussing how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may be a fit for you.
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