We all have different personal boundaries. What is OK for you may not be OK for somebody else. Personal boundaries are the rules and limitations we set within our relationships. They define where we stop and another begins and if they are healthy they protect us from becoming resentful, used and exhausted and enable us to let others in.
A person with healthy boundaries can feel comfortable saying “No” to others when they want to but equally they feel comfortable being intimate and close in relationships.
Sometimes our boundaries need a little bit of strengthening or loosening, if you find yourself agreeing to do lots of things for others when deep down you know you don’t have the time to follow through or perhaps you are easily manipulated by another’s demands, your boundaries might need strengthening or perhaps you may have rigid boundaries, putting up walls and being very closed off finding it difficult to let others in, in which case your boundaries might need softening.
Working out your personal boundaries
1 What’s important to you?
What’s acceptable to us is often determined by our own personal values for example if you value your health more than a promotion at work you may find it easier to finish work on time. Likewise if spending time with your family takes priority it will be much easier to say no to that extra project at work. Work out what is most important to you, these are your core values and knowing what they are makes it easier to stick to your boundaries.
2 Get to know your limitations
Are you guilty of always being sucked in to giving just a little bit more all of the time? All these little bits of giving easily snowball until you are doing far too much and finding it hard to cope. Try to really get to know your limitations and practise what it feels like to have a comfortable amount of time to get everything done.
3 Show yourself some respect
If you are constantly giving your time to others your boundaries might be too weak. Perhaps you are ”people pleasing” and trying subconsciously to gain their approval. Show yourself the same respect you show others.
4 Listen to your feelings
If you start to resent others or feel uncomfortable in certain situations, use these feelings as your guide. Listen to the message they are trying to tell you. If you start to feel resentful ask yourself why? Do I feel like I am being taken for granted? Is that too much to ask?
5 Be assertive
You’ve done all of the hard work. You’ve worked out your values, limitations and feelings now don’t be shy to say “No” and to mean it assertively and respectfully.
Know and respect your boundaries as much as you respect others, practise looking after yourself and strengthening or softening your boundaries as required and enjoy the comfortable feeling of knowing you are worth that self-care and deeper connection with others.