The Importance of Setting Boundaries for a Happier Life
Do you have a hard time saying “no” to people? Are you the friend that everyone counts on, but it often feels one-sided? You might need to strengthen your boundaries. If you’ve struggled with communicating your limits, this article is for you.
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Before you’re able to set healthy boundaries, you first need to understand why you need to have boundaries for yourself. Boundaries are those invisible lines that we draw between ourselves and the rest of the world around us. They keep us safe by drawing lines between the things that we’re willing to accept from others and what we won’t tolerate.
Having boundaries doesn’t mean shutting people out. They allow you to open yourself to let in the good while keeping out anything that is hurtful or triggering. Setting healthy boundaries is a positive practice that will help you experience and practice self-respect and keep you happy, healthy, and safe.
Do any of the following situations sound familiar to you? Your friend constantly asks you to borrow money but never pays you back. Your boss piles on more work than you can reasonably handle. Certain family members constantly criticize your lifestyle choices. Your colleague takes credit for projects and ideas that you worked hard on. Family members show up to your home uninvited at all hours of the day.
Some people struggle with saying no. Whether you’re trying your best not to be rude, think you’re being helpful, or are afraid to get involved in conflict, people-pleasing isn’t the same as being kind, and the truth is, you’re actually hurting yourself and the other person involved. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to handle these situations in healthy and straightforward conversations: by setting your boundaries.
Boundaries are unique to your situation and will be different for everyone. Some people may view your choice to set boundaries for yourself as being manipulative or controlling. However, healthy boundaries should never come from a negative place but should be rooted in self-love.
The following is a list of examples of what healthy boundaries should look like:
- Letting your partner know that you need some time alone in the evenings to decompress after work.
- Telling your roommate that they need to clean up after themselves if the two of you are to continue living together.
- Making it clear to your boss that you will not work weekends unless it’s an emergency.
- Letting your friends know you prefer not to gossip or talk negatively about others.
- Telling your family that you will not attend events where alcohol is present, as it is triggering for you.
Without healthy boundaries, it’s easier for people to take advantage of you, often without even realizing it. They’ll hurt you, invade your personal space, and drain your resources and energy. While there’s no way to control what others are doing, by setting healthy boundaries, you can control what you’ll allow and accept in your life.
The people around you aren’t mind readers, and you shouldn’t expect them to be. The onus is on you to ensure that the people around you are aware of your boundaries and personal limits. As long as you surround yourself with positive people who love and care about your happiness, they will understand and respect your needs. The people who care about you will understand that this is what you need to preserve your mental health.
Most people will only do what you allow them to, so don’t be afraid to remind people of what your boundaries are. It can be really difficult to be consistent with your boundaries, especially if you’re worried you’ll make others uncomfortable. It can be so easy to forgive when someone unintentionally crosses one of your boundaries; however, open and honest communication is what will help them improve how they relate to you in the future.
People and circumstances change, so it’s normal for your boundaries to change, too. Our life experiences shape us into the people we are, so as you go through life, you’ll constantly learn new things about yourself at every turn. When a situation arises that stirs up strong emotions in you, and you recognize that there needs to be a boundary there, don’t be afraid to share that with the people around you.
Everyone has their personal limits and triggers that are likely different from yours, but respecting other’s boundaries is a two-way street. In the same way that you want others to listen and respect how you feel, you should extend the same courtesy to others around you. Being open to listening when someone else is trying to set a boundary will help you live a much more peaceful life.
Some people just won’t understand your need to set boundaries for yourself. Many of us have been taught from a young age that it’s important to put the needs of others above our own. So, be prepared to explain yourself and answer questions when others find it confusing or surprising that you’re setting a boundary for yourself. In situations where the other person’s behavior has been going on for a long time, it could seem to come out of nowhere that you’re asking them to change their behavior. Be patient, open the floor for questions, and answer as honestly and respectfully as possible.
Have any situations or relationships in your life come to mind while reading this article? Are there areas in your life where you need to create or enforce boundaries to help you live a happier life?
If you’re trying to establish clear boundaries and cultivate a more positive mindset, Mentalmapguide is here to help. Our resources will provide you with the knowledge and insight to understand your limits and communicate them effectively to others.