Why do we need to set boundaries?
We all have our limits. Whether that be at home, at work or with friends, we all have that line which we draw in the sand and say, “yes, that is enough for me”. When our limits have been pushed, we can often feel frustrated and disregarded. An example of this is when someone invades your personal space or when someone tries to change your mind. When your limits are being constantly pushed, it can lead you to feel taken advantage of, mentally exhausted and irritated a lot of the time.
Another thing that can often arise is the feeling of letting others down. You may also feel that you are responsible for how others feel. This is where setting boundaries come in. Building boundaries are useful as it can make you aware of where it is that you draw the line in the sand and what you need to do to protect your mental health. Being able to understand our limits and set boundaries requires a new skill set to increase our self-esteem and help us feel valued.
How do you set boundaries?
When it comes to setting boundaries, it is important to know that they are not fixed. For instance, there are some days where we may need to take a step back, close ourselves off and disengage from the outside world. However, there are other days where we feel like letting our hair down and being active with others.
The beauty of boundaries is that they are flexible to reassess. This is because they are built for us, by us. They provide us with the space to grow and become self-aware of our feelings. They also allow us to be vulnerable and show vulnerability. After all, we are human and have the rights to express how we feel and what we believe in. It also gives us the space to gain independence by providing the opportunity to do something on our own.
What are the benefits of setting boundaries?
The best part of setting your boundaries is the fact that you are taking active steps to prioritise yourself. Examples of these boundaries can include not working past 6 pm or sticking to your weekly spending budget (yes, that includes your online shopping spendings). Setting these boundaries can lead you to prioritise your health and well-being and alleviate any external stresses they may bring.
Another integral part of prioritising yourself is learning to say no. More often than not, we say yes to people regardless of how we feel. This is because we do not want to disappoint others, especially our loved ones. But what we don’t realise is that it can lead to others becoming reliant on us. This ultimately can have a mentally draining effect on you and impair the relationship later down the track. By saying no, it allows others to become aware of your limits and understand what it is you can and can’t do. This can strengthen relationships as all parties feel respected and validated.
The downside of boundaries
While boundaries are often used to conserve our time and energy to focus on ourselves, they can often be confused and used incorrectly. When individuals do this, they can often start to overshare their personal information and become too involved in other’s opinions. While it may give us the space to express ourselves, it isn’t an opportunity to release negative energy by venting about what your rights and values are. This can often rub people the wrong way and come across as creating drama.
So, how does one set boundaries for themselves?
Boundaries are personally shaped by how you feel, your background and the experiences you have had in your life. This can vary in so many ways that it is difficult to give you the exact tips on what boundaries you need to set. The only person who knows what you can handle is yourself. To provide you with a stepping stone to setting your boundaries, the first thing you can do is IDENTIFY WHAT IT IS YOU STAND FOR. Think about the rights you uphold in your personal and work life.
What do you feel you have the right to do? Do you have the right to say no? Do you have the right to express how you feel? What is it that you value in your everyday life? Once you have identified this, it is important to be ASSERTIVE. Let someone know that it is outside of your limits. Another step to setting boundaries is to REMIND YOURSELF YOU ARE YOUR PRIORITY. If you have assertively communicated to someone your limits and they refuse to acknowledge them, remind yourself that you have the right to stand up for what you believe in and that this decision is what is best for you.
Our Psych Up! resources in May are focused around How to Prioritise Yourself. We are also producing COVID-19 content to help people through this time of crisis. Make sure to stay tuned for our weekly blog post updates, as well as our podcasts and webinars.
For more information about performance psychology, setting boundaries, being assertive or anything else mentioned, get in touch with our team today.