“Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do” – Rachel Wolchin
All of us around talking about emotional wellbeing, mainly talk about personal boundaries, but why is it even important? Because it marks a limit. You know, I learnt my lesson hard, I would get too caught up in other people’s stories and would strive to invest my 10 cents in getting them to feel better every single time. And much before I know, they’ve overcome their situation, PEOPLE ALWAYS DO, and then I was no longer necessary. I know, life moves on. But they know who to come back to each time they hit a wall. Why? Because I never have limits and I was in it for the long haul. Now come on, who are we kidding. Would they be the same space for you, anytime and everytime you needed it? I don’t think so. No one’s truly a damsel in distress, mostly a damsel with a mood swing may be.
Now, we’re talking about emotional, energetic and physical boundaries. It calls for you to protect yourself and stay healthy pretty much in every way. Do you enjoy being manipulated, or violated by others or do you like protecting your own thoughts and feelings? This way, you also become responsible for your own actions than of others.
Why is it important to set boundaries?
Everything that you feed your mind, you give your body permission to take in and before you know, this intake turns into slow poison that body later has to work so hard to reject and find a healthy balance. You then need therapy, guidance and spiritual mentors, who again are going to start with the same subject. “Let’s work on how important boundaries are for you my friend”
Ma always said that boundaries are the truest measure of how we love ourselves, and that hit a chord. For example : declining physical contact from a co-worker is setting an important boundary, it is as crucial as setting an emotional boundary. You don’t want your colleague to be making unreasonable demands of your time and energy. “No is a complete statement” – Anne Lamont (Please read that quote again).
Notice if these answers about yourself suggest a tendency of respecting boundaries of others or holding back your own. Be honest.
- Do I try to “fix” things for others?
- Do I have trouble saying ‘No’?
- Do I find myself exhausted after spending time with a few people?
- Do I consistently deny my own feelings or needs in order to soothe, help or manage another?
- Am I manipulated by flattery?
- Do I do favours that I inwardly resent?
- Do I have troubles making decisions independently?
- Do I recognise that everyone else has a right to his/her own thoughts and opinions even if I’m not comfortable with them?
- Do I tell others what they should think or feel?
- Do I believe that I have a right to my own thoughts and feelings? Ask yourself this…truly now..
If any of these are true, you could certainly benefit from learning about healthy boundaries and practices. Journalling is sure to help with this process.
Healthy boundaries are the ultimate guide to successful relationships. Because only a few of us understand how boundaries work, we actually fail to see evidence of them working. But when they do, you’ll know and it does wonders for your mental and relational health. “Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
So, here are boundaries you deserve to have and practice :
Your clock runs to your routine. It doesn’t need to match the timelines of your loved ones or your colleagues, and vis a vis. Overcommitting isn’t a fun drill, but a one that drains you out in time because you can’t keep up. When you overcommit, people get used to it and expect none less.
Things you could try saying :
“We have family time on Sunday, so we won’t make it”
“I can only stay for another hour, can we get through with what’s most essential?”
“I would love to help, but I’ve got to focus on work that I’ve already committed to. Can we please try another time?”
“I do this for a living, would you be able to consider a remuneration for me?”
Respect is a two way street. Healthy intellectual boundaries including respecting another person’s thoughts and ideas and they can be easily violated when your thoughts are shut down or dismissed. A respectful dialogue is most essential here.
“Neither of us are wrong here, but could we respect that we have different opinions in this matter?”
“I’m happy to address this concern, but today isn’t a good time. Shall we revisit this tomorrow please?”
“I know you don’t approve, but I won’t let you belittle my thoughts”
“Does it have to be done a certain way? Could we consider a few other ways to make this work?”
“I understand I promised, can we make room for changing circumstances here that I have absolute no control over?”
“You get what you tolerate” – Henry Cloud
It’s all about respecting and honoring one’s feelings and energy. When you set an emotional boundary, you give them a free pass at all you can take in. It never stops even if you’re being treated poorly. By respecting one’s emotional boundary, you’re validating their feelings and making sure that you respect their ability in taking in information.
“I’m going through a rough time, however, are you in a place to listen right now?”
“Everytime I speak, you’re opinionated and that shuts me down. I can only talk to you when you’re able to respectfully respond to me”
“I feel anger that’s caused by you, could you give me time to heal, so I could respond with better clarity?”
“I understand you’re dealing with a tough situation. But I’m not in the space to take all of this in right now. Do you think we could come back to this conversation later?”
Your need for personal space, your comfort with touch, space to eat, play and rest are all very very important. It is definitely OK to let people know you don’t want to be touched or that you need more space. It is completely alright, and you’re not being unfair while you ask for it and it needs no explaining.
“No. I don’t want you to touch me like that”
“I’m not a big hugger. I prefer handshakes”
“Please don’t enter my room without asking me?”
“I am really tired. I’m going to sit down now”
This refers to all materialistic things in your possession. It’s healthy to understand what you can and cannot share and how you’d like your items to be treated even with the ones closest to you.
“I can’t lend you my car. I don’t entirely feel comfortable in doing so”
“I gave you what I could, I outta save for a rainy day too”
“Oh you could borrow my dress, but can you make sure you return it by Friday?”
The more we set boundaries, the more we recognise them. In setting boundaries, we help people show up for us, and we also become better at showing up for them. “Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasures” – Edwin Louis Cole