Setting Boundaries: A Simple Guide
Having boundaries is an important self care, but it can be hard to put into practice. Here's how to get started.
What are boundaries?
Boundaries help protect your emotional, personal and physical space. They give you permission to draw the line between things you can and can’t accept within relationships.
Without firm boundaries, it’s easy to feel guilty, resentful or burnt out from carrying an emotional burden that isn’t yours to hold. For example, agreeing to things you don’t want to do, or feeling responsible for how other people feel.
What are the benefits of setting boundaries?
Better mental health
Without boundaries, everyday interactions can leave you feeling emotionally drained, contributing to mental health issues. Boundary setting is an essential part of self care that can help you take responsibility for your mental health.
Sense of identity
Everyone has different boundaries. Finding yours can help you identify your values and practice listening to your instincts and what feels right for you.
If you struggle with feelings of codependency, setting boundaries can give you a true feeling of agency over your own life and decisions.
Ability to help others
We often mistake boundaries as a reluctance to help, when the opposite is actually true! Boundaries help to conserve your emotional energy meaning that you have more left over to help when you can.
Setting boundaries in your work/education environment can help prevent burnout. For example, not taking on projects that aren’t your responsibility or letting your colleagues know you’re only available during office hours.
How do I set boundaries?
Everyone has different boundaries, shaped by a variety of factors like our culture, experiences, personality, identity and more.
While certain boundaries might feel instinctive, it can sometimes be challenging to define what you need (and don’t need) from other people.
Try asking yourself the following questions:
- What are my rights in this situation?
Remember, you are always entitled to respect, reasonable expectations, support and kindness.
- What do I value in my relationships?
Reflect on the values you hold, such as truth, loyalty, kindness or respect. Then consider how you would feel if these values were disregarded.
- What is my gut feeling?
When an interaction rubs you the wrong way, can you pinpoint what the issue is? How could the situation have been better?
How journaling can help
Journaling can help you reflect on your relationships and process your thoughts. By writing about your boundaries (or lack thereof), you can observe your feelings with more distance and less judgement. It can also help you practice your values before communicating them in your relationships.
Practice setting boundaries in the ‘Calming Anxiety’ course in Halo, or try these journaling prompts to get started:
- What boundaries do I want to set right now?
- In which areas of my life do I lack boundaries?
- What boundary do I secretly want to set but feel afraid to?
- What is stopping me from setting boundaries?
- Do I feel responsible for other people’s feelings or actions?
Remember, boundaries are not walls to keep others out, and they can change and evolve over time. While they can be challenging to set, they can help strengthen relationships and help you feel more empowered over time.
Halo can help you sort through your thoughts and relationships in guided entries curated by experts. Always private, for your eyes only. Get started today.