healthy boundaries

What Are Healthy Boundaries, and How to Set Them?

What are boundaries? Experts define boundaries as limits or space between you and another person. It’s crucial to create healthy boundaries to protect and take care of yourself. Besides, boundaries are vital for your mental health and well-being.

Furthermore, your boundaries help establish your identity, conserve emotional energy, and build your self-esteem. However, setting healthy boundaries is easier said than done. If you’ve been living all your life without limitations, it can be challenging to set some.

Nonetheless, it’s not impossible. With the right approach, you should start noticing a difference in how you interact with others. Our comprehensive guide will come in handy.

What Lack of Boundaries Looks Like

When you have low-esteem, boundaries can seem like an impossible thing to achieve. You want the people around you to like and accept you and, therefore, setting limits seems counterproductive. However, this situation doesn’t favor you either.

Without boundaries, you’re constantly feeling like you’re not being true to yourself. You feel violated and will do anything at the cost of your integrity just to fit in or not upset the people you’re afraid to lose. It’s a difficult way to live.

What It Means to Have Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

Establishing healthy boundaries is the highest form of self-care. Without boundaries, you may end up with burnout because you’re doing things against yourself to be liked. It’s different when you have healthy boundaries.

With the right limits in place, you can:

  • Make the right decisions for yourself
  • Build better, healthier relationships with others and yourself
  • Enjoy better mental health
  • Feel more fulfilled and happier
  • Feel worthy

What’s the Solution? How to Establish Healthy Boundaries

The reason why most people find it challenging to set limits is low self-esteem. There’s an internal fear that tells you saying no to that friend or colleague will mean the end of your relationship. On the other hand, saying yes makes you feel like you’re wanted or you belong.

Ultimately, you’ll find you’re sacrificing being true to your emotions because you’re afraid to set some healthy limits. Have you considered that it’s possible to say no and not lose that relationship? If you do, the relationship was not serving you in the first place.

So, how can you set boundaries that set your relationships up for success? Let’s find out.

Be Assertive To Set Healthy Boundaries, Not Aggressive

The most effective way to set healthy boundaries is to be assertive when you need to draw the line. Use “I” statements to get your limits across and help the other person understand. For example, “I feel… when… because… Moving forward, I need…”

When put this way, the other person is able to understand your point of view and how you expect to be treated. Throwing demands at them and lashing out may come across as aggressive and not yield the results you seek.

Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care and healthy boundaries go hand in hand. If you’re living without boundaries, chances are you’ll always prioritize other’s needs before your own. Begin placing yourself at the topmost position of your priority list.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Self-care can be something as simple as taking your vacation days when you feel burnt out. It can also be taking some time off social media without feeling the need to explain.

Safeguard Your Physical and Emotional Space

It’s also possible to set healthy boundaries without saying a word. You can create limits around your physical and emotional spaces. There are various ways to do this.

They include:

  • Locking private items in a secure box
  • Not responding to work emails or calls past a certain time
  • Taking a social media cleanse
  • Setting the nonnegotiable time to be by yourself even if you’re doing nothing
  • Password protecting your phone
  • Sending notifications of your days off in advance to avoid disturbance
  • Not responding to messages when you’re taking care of yourself.

Take Baby Steps

When you’ve been living all your life without boundaries, putting your foot down can be intimidating. Once you’ve set healthy boundaries, expect to feel scared and intimidated when someone crosses them.

You’ll be afraid to say something in fear of losing the relationship or upsetting the person. It happens. You’re exploring new territories, and it makes sense to be scared.

But don’t let that stop you from sticking to your healthy boundaries. Start small. Pick a small boundary you’ve set and practice saying no until you get the hang of it. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be to have bigger conversations.

Forgive Yourself

You’ve set healthy boundaries, and you’re ready to start living differently. Congratulations. But there’s one challenge. You’ve given people a pass for crossing your boundaries, and you’ve not said anything.

Again, this will happen a lot after you’ve set healthy boundaries. If it does, forgive yourself and take it as a learning opportunity. Learn how you can respond the next time and not betray yourself.

Seek Professional Help

Setting healthy limits is easier said than done. You may find it challenging to name your limits and communicate about them. This happens, especially among those who’ve faced traumatic experiences. The idea of speaking about their boundaries can bring up traumatic memories, thereby making it even harder.

In such situations, it’s best to speak to a licensed therapist. They are trained to help you get through such difficult times and set healthy boundaries. Besides, a professional counselor is better positioned to teach you the right communication skills to address boundary violations.

Now Go

If you were wondering, “What are boundaries and why are they important?” now you know. Use this guide to start setting healthy boundaries. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you’re struggling to define and communicate your limits.

Kate Skurat

Kate Skurat

Licensed Mental Health Counselor | Washington, United States

Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach. Read more