People will wear you out! As a parent and individual, setting boundaries is necessary to sustain a healthy life. So much time is devoted to your work-life, children, family, spouse, and extracurricular activities. Strength is found in setting necessary boundaries and being prepared to say, “No.”
As an individual, there are many boundaries you can set to ultimately achieve a healthy life. Elizabeth Earnshaw- LMFT provides 6 boundary types and how to maintain them.
The statements provided within this article are for factual purposes, only. If you are seeking additional help in the realms of setting boundaries and maintaining relationships, please consult with your local therapist.
What Are Boundaries?
Boudaries are not a reason to be unkind or build a brick wall. Establishing healthy boundaries are essential to healthy relationships. Without healthy boundaries, relationships do not thrive—they result in feelings of resentment, disappointment, or violation. Boundaries are your personal limits.
Types of Boundaries
Physical boundaries center around physical proximity. This includes personal space and attending to your physical needs. If you are not a hugger, it is OK to let people know you do not like to be touched that way.
Healthy physical boundaries might sound like:
- “I am really tired. I need to sit down now.”
- “I am not a big hugger. I am a handshake person.”
- “I need to eat. I am going to go grab something.”
- “I am allergic to [insert here], so we can’t have that in our home.”
- “No. I don’t want you to touch me like that.”
- “Don’t go into my room without asking first.”
Physical boundary violations feel like receiving inappropriate or unwanted touch, being denied your physical needs (told to keep walking when you are tired or that you need to wait to eat or drink).
Setting clear emotional boundaries includes knowing how much emotional energy you have and how much you can give. Also, this includes knowing when and how to respond emotionally. If you know someone will react poorly to your emotional energy, limit how much you share with this individual. If there is a healthy emotional relationship between you and another individual, you may be more comfortable with sharing information.
Healthy Emotional Boundaries may look like this:
- “When I share my feelings with you and get criticized, it makes me totally shut down. I can only share with you if you are able to respond respectfully to me.”
- “I am so sorry you are having such a tough time. Right now, I am not in a place to take in all of this information. Do you think we can come back to this conversation later?”
- “I am having a hard time and really need to talk. Are you in a place to listen right now?”
- “I really can’t talk about that right now. It isn’t the right time.”
When the boundary line is crossed, you can expect the following:
- Dismissing and criticizing feelings
- Asking questions that are not appropriate for the relationship
- Reading or going through personal and emotional information
- Asking people to justify their feelings
- Assuming we know how other people feel
- Telling other people how they feel
- “Emotionally dumping” on people without their permission
- Sharing inappropriate emotional information with your children
Time is non-refundable. There is great value in protecting your time. Setting time boundaries means understanding your priorities and setting aside enough time for the many areas of your life without overcommitting. Setting time boundaries encompasses the ability to say, “No.”
Healthy Time Boundaries look like:
- “I can’t come to that event this weekend.”
- “I can only stay for an hour.”
- “Do you have time to chat today?”
- “I would love to help, but I would be overcommitting myself. Is there another time?”
- “We have family time on Sundays, so we won’t make it.”
- “I am happy to help with that. My hourly rate is…”
When these boundaries are crossed, it looks like the following:
- Keeping people in conversations longer than intended.
- Cancelling on people because we have overcommitted
- Demanding time from people
- Asking professionals for their time and not paying them
Intellectual boundaries refer to your thoughts, ideas, and curiosity. Healthy intellectual boundaries include respect for the ideas of other people, and they can be violated when your thoughts and curiosity are shut down, dismissed, or belittled.
Healthy Intellectual Boundaries look like:
- “I know we disagree, but I won’t let you belittle me like that.”
- “I would love to talk about this more, but I don’t think talking about it during Thanksgiving dinner is the best time.”
- “When we talk about this, we don’t get very far. I think it is a good idea to avoid the conversation right now.”
- “I can respect that we have different opinions on this.”
The presence of intellectual boundaries does not mean the acceptance of all ideas, concepts, and perspectives. Recognizing the differences between you and others and choosing to maintain a healthy relationship and discourse is the direction to take for achieving healthy intellectual boundaries.
Material possessions include your car, home, furniture and money. It is important to understand the items you can and cannot share with others. Having healthy material limits include the following:
- “I can’t lend out my car. I am the only person on the insurance.”
- “We can’t give any more money. We would be happy to help in another way.”
- “Sure! I am happy to share my dress with you. Just a heads-up, I do need it back by Friday.”
Material boundaries are violated when your things are destroyed or stolen or when they are “borrowed” too frequently. Another material violation is the use of materials (money and possessions) to manipulate and control relationships.
Content provided by Elizabeth Earnshaw- LMFT
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