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Boundaries: A Guide to Personal Growth and Empowerment

Boundaries 101

Do you ever feel like it is hard for you to say no (or yes) to something or someone? Do you struggle with defining personal expectations in your relationships? Have you felt disrespected by a person or their behavior, but never addressed it with them? You may need to set and define stronger personal boundaries in your life. Boundaries are an act of empowerment and self-care. Simply, it is a definition of what you will or will not accept from another person, place, or situation. It can be uncomfortable to set boundaries, but when we do, we are opening unlimited doors to personal growth. Boundaries can be related to work, intimacy, friendships, family, school, money, time, and more. They can be placed in every area of our lives to create positive, healthy relationships with ourselves and others. Expectations, wants, and needs differ from person to person. Mastering the art of setting boundaries will improve your mental health and strengthen your relationships.
 

Identifying and Setting Boundaries

Identifying boundaries consists of self-awareness and reflection to figure out what boundaries you want to set. Listen to yourself and remember that your feelings are valid. If something bothers you, makes you uncomfortable, or hurts you in anyway, do not allow it to continue. Identify the boundaries; Are they behaviors, words, emotional energy, time, or personal space? Use “I” statements, be specific and communicate clearly. Be firm when setting your boundaries. Here are some examples of common boundaries we may want to set in our lives: 
 
You just moved in with your friend. You value your friendship, but sharing a living space has been harder than you imagined. They leave dirty dishes in the sink for days, never take out the trash, and won’t help you clean the home. So, you tell them “I am so happy to be living together, but I shouldn’t have to clean up after you. Instead of leaving your chores to me, please do your own.” Or maybe you are dealing with a co-worker who constantly vents to you about their personal life. You like this co-worker, but it has become draining and distracts you from completing your work. So, you may say “I’m sorry you are going through so much right now, but these conversations have become unprofessional. I know you feel comfortable sharing with me, but it has become distracting when I need to focus on my tasks for the day”. Lastly, your partner is projecting their negative emotions on to you when they’re dealing with stress. They are acting irritated and annoyed with you, which is causing you to feel insecure about your relationship. You can say, “I understand you are stressed out but it is not fair for you to take it out on me. You have not accepted my support, which has made me feel insecure about our relationship. If you can’t control your emotions around me, I think we should spend some time apart.”

 

The upcoming holidays are a time of celebration and family. However, some may not have the best relationships with their relatives, which can take the joy out of the season. Communicating boundaries with family can be difficult due to strong generational values, but that shouldn’t make them off limits. If you have relatives that are disapproving of your relationship/job/beliefs, you can communicate your boundary of not talking about that topic at all. You should never take any disrespect, even if it is from family. Gatherings can be filled with alcohol, which could be a trigger for an individual with alcoholism, or may lead to unwanted arguments/conversations with intoxicated relatives. If you want to spend time with a relative, but are nervous to do so because of their drinking, consider talking to them before about your boundaries. If you are struggling with alcohol but still want to enjoy the holiday, communicate with the host that removing alcohol would really appreciated. Open communication in families can be beautiful, and will foster more meaningful connections and support systems. 

Boundaries as Empowerment

Every time we let someone or a situation cross a personal line, we are disrespecting ourselves. By setting a boundary, we are providing a framework for mutual respect and understanding. Setting boundaries is a way of respecting and valuing yourself, defining what is acceptable and what is not. It communicates to others that you have a sense of self-worth and that you prioritize your own needs and well-being. Boundaries maintain your emotional wellbeing and encourages independence and self-autonomy. Healthy boundaries foster communication, trust, and intimacy in our lives. They can grow our spiritual and emotional relationships with ourselves and can deepen and strengthen existing relationships.
 
However, with some relationships and people, setting boundaries can be easier said than done. If you are dealing with someone who is defensive, emotionally immature, manipulative, or abusive, consider working with a therapist to aid in this process. You and your therapist will work together to identify your boundary, how to communicate it safely and effectively, and what to do if the set boundary is not respected. Working with a therapist one on one will help you master the art of setting boundaries. Setting and maintaining boundaries is an act of empowerment. It provides self-agency to shape your life in a way that fully aligns with your values, goals, and overall well-being. It may be best for you to end a relationship if your boundaries are constantly being crossed and disrespected. Explore the Healed and Educated website for more resources, or to schedule therapy with a licensed counselor if you live in North Carolina. 
 
 

RESOURCES

1.

How To Set Healthy Boundaries & Build Positive Relationships (PositivePsychology.com)
https://positivepsychology.com/great-self-care-setting-healthy-boundaries/

2.

How to Reduce Holiday Stress by Setting Strong Boundaries (TheFamilyCentre.org)
https://www.familycentre.org/news/post/how-to-reduce-holiday-stress-by-setting-strong-boundaries

3.

Virtual Therapy with Healed and Educated
https://healedandeducated.com/therapy/

 

The Author: Amanda Morgan

       This article was written by Amanda Morgan. Any questions concerning the article should be emailed to anmorgs16@gmail.com

Amanda Morgan

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