Establishing clear, healthy boundaries is vital for your mental health and emotional wellbeing. Many of us lack personal and emotional boundaries, which leaves us feeling exhausted, misunderstood, and taken advantage of. Are you a chronic “yes” person? Do you struggle to turn down offers or requests? If either sounds like you, you likely struggle with setting boundaries. If you want to live a life that is more aligned with you and your needs, desires, wants, and your most authentic self - it’s time to start setting some emotional boundaries, so let’s get into it.
what are emotional boundaries?
Boundaries, in general, are the practice of openly communicating and asserting personal values to protect against being violated. In simpler terms, boundaries are lines that we draw. Physical boundaries include physical space and touch, while mental boundaries include thoughts and cognitions.
An emotional boundary is put in place to protect your right to have your own feelings, emotions, and thoughts. They’re meant to protect you from having your emotions invalidated and dismissed. They’re also meant to keep you from being responsible for someone else’s emotions or feelings.
When we lack emotional boundaries, we exhaust too much of our time and energy on the needs of others. Lacking emotional boundaries looks like this:
Always being available for others
Putting our emotional well-being into the hands of others
Always saying yes, even when you don’t want to
Feeling responsible for the emotions of those around you
Letting other people’s opinions of you outweigh your own
why setting boundaries is important
Boundaries ensure that we honor our own needs, emotions, thoughts, and feelings above others. Caring for others is essential to friendship and partnership, but we must take care of ourselves first. Setting healthy boundaries protects you from the negative. If you know you’re unwilling to deal with certain behavior, communicate that boundary, and the person still behaves the same? Well, you have your answer.
Emotional boundaries help us determine healthy relationships with others. Anyone who genuinely cares for you and the connection should always honor your boundaries. That’s not to say that people won't make mistakes, because they will. However, if someone dishonors a healthy boundary that you have clearly set without remorse, it may be time to reevaluate that relationship. Not utilizing boundaries leads to hurt and resentment towards others. If we don’t express our wants and needs, how can we expect them to be honored?
Personal boundaries help you better connect with, understand, and honor yourself. Did you know that setting boundaries and sticking to them increases your self-esteem? This is because you’re keeping a promise about how you deserve to be treated. Setting boundaries is also a form of self-care and self-love.
how to set healthy boundaries
The first step in setting healthy, clear boundaries is committing to yourself to put your emotional wellbeing first. This may be challenging for recovering people pleasers, but remember that you’re worthy of setting boundaries. You have to commit to the idea of letting go of this version of you as you know them. Once you’re committed to doing what’s best for you, it’s time to examine.
Before setting boundaries, you must discover what kind of boundaries you want to set. This can look different for people depending on their needs, wants, and desires. Examine your life and determine what areas you think need improvement. This practice is referred to as self-reflection, and it leads to improved self-awareness. Perhaps you’re spending too much time playing therapist for a certain friend or family member, or maybe your partner expects you to carry all the emotional weight of your relationship. Whatever the case may be, implementing healthy boundaries can improve your situation.
We recommend writing down a list of boundaries you want to implement and strengthen. This will help you keep them in mind and help you hold yourself accountable for enforcing them. Some boundaries to start with include:
Say no - to things, tasks, plans, or conversations you don’t want to have
Protect your time - don’t stretch yourself too thin
Ask for and take space when needed
Speak up and stand up for yourself when needed
Candace van Dell is a YouTuber who discusses all things mental health related, from boundaries to inner child work. Her video on setting healthy boundaries inspired this article. To check it out for yourself, click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ew4WQTCAkY.
While setting boundaries may make you feel villainous initially, remember there is nothing wrong with putting yourself first. As long as your boundaries are healthy and clear, choosing to implement them will only boost your mental health, emotional wellbeing, and relationships.