What are Boundaries and why are they Important?

by | Oct 21, 2019 | Articles, Boundaries, Happiness, Mental Health, Self Care

It’s important for us to have personal boundaries

Personal boundaries are the rules and guidelines we set up which determine how we are treated in relationships. Boundaries clearly define what we will and won’t put up with from others. They influence how we approach relationships with lovers, friends and acquaintances. Healthy boundaries help us live in-tune with our desires, needs, and feelings. We can say no to the things that we don’t want to do and yes to the things that we want to do. And while clear boundaries are important to our wellbeing, many of us have difficulty establishing and maintaining them.

Why You May Struggle to Set Boundaries

1. Boundaries may not have been modelled to you when you were younger. If your parents did not have clear boundaries in relationships, chances are you have not picked up how to set healthy boundaries. 2. If as a child, you went through trauma or had parents that struggled with addictions, then you may have learned to put others needs above your own. You may have lost your voice along the way. 3. Sometimes the need to be liked and accepted overpowers your ability to set healthy boundaries with people out of fear of upsetting them. 4. You do not know what boundaries are, or you believe others should just know what they are without expressing them clearly.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries

1. Self-Awareness: It takes a lot of self-awareness to set healthy boundaries with people. You need to be aware of your feelings and notice who and what makes you feel uncomfortable. When you are aware of what makes you upset or stressed it helps you identify your limits. 2. Permission: You have to give yourself permission to set boundaries and understand they are a sign of self-respect. You will have to let go of any guilt you have about enforcing certain boundaries and remind yourself healthy boundaries are good for everyone. When you have good boundaries, you will not build up resentment against those that make you feel uncomfortable. 3. Self Care: You need to put yourself first. You need to recognize your feelings and honor them. Self-care gives you time to recharge with the activities that bring you peace and joy. When you have good Self Care your view of life will be more positive, and you will be more present with those around you. 4. Start Small: Start by setting small boundaries that do not feel very threatening to you. Remember, if this is a new skill for you, it will take time to learn. Try setting small boundaries and build on each small success. It takes a lot of courage to start this process but it’s worth it! 5. Direct Communication: You have to learn how to communicate effectively by being direct about your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits.People cannot read our minds and we have to be able to communicate effectively how we need to be treated. One way to do this is with assertive communication, where you clearly communicate what you need in a relationship without aggression or passivity.

Benefits of Boundaries

The word boundary can be misleading as it conveys the image of separation, but it actually has the opposite effect. Boundaries actually help our relationships flourish. They contribute to greater intimacy and connections to those around us. When we are able to set clear boundaries with our family, partner, and even strangers we gain a number of benefits, here are three: 1. Greater Self Esteem: When you are able to set clear boundaries with people you are able to get your needs met. It enables you to become more intune with how you are feeling and what you need. Consequently you will be more assertive, being able to ask others to treat you in a way that meets your needs. You will become less critical with yourself for being passive, fearful and letting others take advantage of you. You will not be resentful of others and yourself. 2. Greater Safety and Peace: This is one of the greatest benefits of setting boundaries as it allows you emotional and physical freedom. If you set clear boundaries with others you will free yourself from emotional abuse, manipulation, and verbal attacks. You will not beat yourself up and get stuck in self-doubt and shame for not asking people to respect you. Instead you will  feel safe and peaceful because you have taught people how to treat you. Being you, without fear of being disrespected or hurt, is an amazing feeling.

3. More Compassion: When we set healthy boundaries we will have more compassion for ourselves and others. Many do not associate compassion with setting boundaries but when you are able to ask for what you need you will have less resentment. Author and academic Brene Brown has found in her research that those who are compassionate say they are this way because they do not subject themselves to others abuse. When they set healthy boundaries, they are in alignment with their integrity and can be more generous with others.

Having healthy boundaries can be difficult skill to learn. If you would like to talk to someone about boundaries and how they can help you live your best life, contact me at Honni Hayton Counselling.

Honni Hayton Counsellor

About Honni Hayton

A qualified, practicing counsellor, Honni Hayton has been helping people live their best life for over 20 years. She specialises in providing women’s counselling services, both in person and online. She also provides relationship counselling to help couples find happiness again.