Establishing Boundaries

There are several myths surrounding boundary setting, including assumptions that establishing boundaries is selfish, mean and or will hurt others. While it may be true that someone you love could become upset that you are no longer allowing them to treat you in an inconsiderate way, establishing boundaries are not meant to hurt anyone. They are intended to develop a sense of safety, support confidence, trust and certainty in relationships, not only with others but with ourselves as well. Therefore, boundaries are essential for healthy relationships.


There are four types of boundaries that I encourage you all to establish, emotional, physical, sexual and intellectual boundaries. I won't define these because I believe that they are self-explanatory. However, I do want to address healthy and unhealthy boundaries because, as with many things, boundaries can be good or bad. Thus this post has been created to illustrate the value of boundary setting and ensure that you understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries.


Why we need boundaries for ourselves?

We are all aware that religion and spiritual practice establishes and encourages us to maintain moral and ethical codes and boundaries. Similarly, boundary-setting reinforces those principles. And for those non-spiritual or non-religious, boundary-setting supports our moral compass and code of ethics. How we govern ourselves and how we anticipate that others govern their behaviour to interact with us healthily. Boundaries allow us to intentionally practice all that we know is right and discourages us from the practice of unhealthy behavior.


What are healthy boundaries?

Like many things, we have to learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries are so that we can be intentional in our behavior and understand how to set boundaries properly. A vital component of healthy boundary setting starts with ensuring that we operate in the way we should be treated.

Healthy boundaries can vary slightly from person to person; however, generally, we set boundaries to ensure that people are intentionally considerate and respectful of our space and feelings. Similarly, we too put in practice these boundaries when in the company of others, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.


Healthy boundaries include communication of your identified expectations of behavior. You establish a tone for how you should be treated; just like many things, we have to understand the need not to make assumptions in our interactions with others. It is imperative that we are transparent with our boundaries and needs; therefore, when the said boundary is crossed, we understand that individual's disregard for our needs and limitations and disrespectful tone.


What makes boundary setting unhealthy?

Selfishness and inconsiderate intention are the basis of unhealthy boundary setting. Unhealthy boundaries dismiss our feelings or the feelings of others and also leave us to feel uncomfortable, unhappy, drained, insignificant, unsafe, etc.


Personal unhealthy boundaries are present when we make a conscious effort to modify our behaviors, discourage ourselves from speaking the truth, or make choices that leave us unhappy to meet the needs of and be pleasing to others.


Unhealthy boundaries can present in the following ways: people pleasing, blatant disregard for comfort or peer pressure, and constant practice of unhealthy boundaries will yield to low self-esteem, diminished confidence, and insecurities. Therefore, establishing boundaries supports ensuring that we maintain a healthy relationship with others and ourselves to maintain our confidence and comfort. Ultimately disallowing anyone the ability to influence us to change or adjust qualities about ourselves to another's liking.


What is the value in boundary setting?

When practiced correctly, boundaries ensure that we establish and maintain respect, trust, safety and consistency in our relationships, whether platonic, familial or intimate. Because like it or not, consistency in behavior is what we all seek to identify with stability in relationships and is the basis of our comfort and sense of safety. Another value of boundary setting is that it assists with diminishing feelings of neediness so that we become independent and our happiness does not rest in the approval of others. Boundary setting dispels the notion that we must change ourselves in a way that negatively impacts us physically, sexually, emotionally or intellectually to make our partner, friend or family member happy.


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