Setting Healthy Boundaries
By: Ayisha Winn, LCSW
“Healthy boundaries. We all know we should have them to achieve work/life balance, cope with toxic people, and enjoy rewarding relationships with partners, friends, and family. But what do “healthy boundaries” really mean, how can we successfully express our needs, say “no”, and be assertive without offending others?” (Tawwab, 2021).
According to “Tips for healthy Boundaries” from therapistaid.com, personal boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships. A person with healthy boundaries can say “no” to others when they want to, but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships.
Setting healthy boundaries is important in our personal and professional lives. Learning to set limits with others can aide in maintaining one’s sanity and positive mood. Setting healthy boundaries can also be viewed as a great form of self-care because of one’s willingness to look out for themselves and their best interests. Boundary setting is a way to respect yourself and ensure respect from others regarding likes and dislikes as well. Failure to set boundaries with others can lead to anger and resentment. The resentment can be toward oneself and/or the individuals you have not set boundaries with. It is important to not compromise your individuality just to be considerate of or kind to others. One should set healthy boundaries and make friends, family, and colleagues respect those boundaries.
Tips for Healthy Boundaries from Therapistaid.com
Know your limits – Before becoming involved in a situation, know what’s acceptable to you, and what isn’t. It’s best to be as specific as possible, or you might be pulled into the trap of giving just a little bit more, over, and over, until you’ve given far too much.
Know your values – Every person’s limits are different, and they’re often determined by their personal values. For example, if you value family above all else, this might lead to stricter limits on how late you will stay at work, away from family. Know what’s most important to you and protect it.
Listen to your emotions – If you notice feelings of discomfort or resentment, don’t bury them. Try to understand what your feelings are telling you. Resentment, for example, can often be traced to feelings of being taken advantage of.
Have self-respect – If you always give in to others, ask if you are showing as much respect to yourself as you show to others. Boundaries that are too open might be due to misguided attempts to be liked by elevating other people’s needs above one’s own.
Have respect for others – Be sure that your actions are not self-serving, at the expense of others. Interactions should not be about winning or taking as much as possible. Instead, consider what’s fair to everyone, given the setting and relationship. You might “win”, but at the cost of a relationship’s long-term health.
Be assertive – When you know it’s time to set a boundary, don’t be shy. Say “no” respectfully, but without ambiguity. If you can make a compromise while respecting your own boundaries, try it. This is a good way to soften the “no”, while showing respect to everyone involved.
Consider the long view – Some days you will give more than you take, and other days you will take more than you give. Be willing to take a longer view of relationships, when appropriate. But if you’re always the one who’s giving or taking, there might be a problem.
Tawwab, Nedra Glover (2021). Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself
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