Setting Boundaries for a Better Life
So let’s talk about boundaries. The global pandemic has caused all of us to reassess our boundaries (physically, mentally and otherwise).
In the simplest terms, boundaries exist to keep you safe. This can look like asking not to be touched, saying no to a work task, or asking your parents not to bring up your dating life. Many of us struggle with boundaries because we either were told, at some point in our lives, that our needs are not important or we worry about being mean or hurting the other person’s feelings.
Do I Need Boundaries?
How do you know when you need to set boundaries with someone? Often, paying attention to your emotions or bodily sensations around certain situations and people will give you an answer. Does your stomach drop when a certain friend texts you? Do you dread talking to your mom on the phone? Does being called into your boss’s office give you anxiety? All of these are signals that there might need to be some boundaries or rules set to protect your time and energy.
How Do I Set Boundaries?
Setting boundaries involves a few key components:
Use “I” Statements- Communicate with phrases that directly communicate how you are feeling or what you want. “I would like you to stop asking me about when I will have children” or “I feel upset when you talk about my weight. Please stop."
Explicit- No one is a mind-reader and you need to communicate your boundaries clearly. Unless you are direct, it is unlikely your boundary will be respected.
Have a Consequence- It’s great when someone respects a boundary right away, but that’s not always the case. If you encounter this, restate your boundary but add an additional consequence. “I told you I feel upset when you talk about my weight. If you continue to do so, I'm going to need some space."
What If I’m Struggling with Boundaries?
Are the above steps feeling challenging, or did you relate to the phrase about hurting others’ feelings? Setting boundaries can be difficult because we may not truly believe we deserve to ask these things of others, or we may not understand how a boundary could help improve our situations and relationships. If you find yourself questioning your boundaries or struggling to set boundaries in your life, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor who can help guide you through this process. You may have to take a good look at your life and what you value, and it may take some time or be a little uncomfortable. The work you do is always worth the outcome though: stronger relationships, valuing yourself and your time, and finding a little bit of peace in this wild world.
Reach out to us at Georgetown Counseling & Wellness for a free consultation or to schedule an appointment for mental health counseling! Improved boundaries can lessen feelings of depression and anxiety, make relationships stronger and increase feelings of wellness and positive mental health.