Boundaries

A Well-Established Boundaries, a must to survive in this world

We are social beings, and every day we deal with the external world significantly. As we go to a café, or at work, with friends, and family. We need to communicate every single day with others. Communication happens in different ways: agreeing, negotiating, convincing and discussing. In each negotiation, we need to provide where we stand. Sometimes people could demand too much, or maybe we have to please them; perhaps they are difficult to please. It can also be that they are violating our rights. We have to know where we stand and adjust everything in a new communication. Having healthy boundaries is the key to managing all this communication in a healthy way.

What exactly is meant by having healthy boundaries?

Consider boundaries as a psychological circle around people. Inside, we feel safe. We share with the outside world only the things that we feel safe sharing with them. We only let people inside who we feel close to. Boundaries help to protect ourselves, our identity, and our values.

Not all of our boundaries are well set. In fact, many people have issues with providing themselves in a healthy and assertive way. Consider yourself in the situations below.

Boundaries are a must to survive and be emotionally in this world because unhealthy set boundaries might lead to catastrophic situations. Let’s go over the story of an imaginary character, Jane.

Jane is a PhD student which has issues with saying no to authority figures. That is how she was raised in her own house. Her supervisor constantly asks her to do extra work—way more than she could handle. Jane tried to catch up with her supervisor’s expectations. It came to a point where burnout symptoms started to show, which made it difficult for her to accomplish small things. Jane had to stop her PhD life because of the burden that she couldn’t carry anymore.

As you can see, that emotional-social factors like not being able to stand assertively in front of a supervisor resulted in a catastrophic situation that let Jane suffer from burnout and not manage to continue her PhD education.

See another example, an imaginary character named Jacob.

Jacob is an easygoing man; he likes to make people happy. People also know this very well, and he is the first address to be asked for a favor. Because of this, every weekend Jacob is busy trying to help his friends with moving or housework. He was even asked to babysit a couple of times.

As you can see, Jacob’s inability to say no and his tendency to please people limit his ability to have a life of his own.

In both cases, the characters are suffering from a lack of boundaries.

In general, it may be hard to say no since we are social beings, we fear rejection, and we don’t want to disappoint others or avoid conflicts. However, when someone who has an issue with setting healthy boundaries, they might exceed them so much that they get to an unhealthy level.

Other potential harms of unhealthy boundaries are that the person may develop deep resentment, experience anxiety, exceed personal limits, and suffer from depression in the long term as a result of giving too much. Having weak boundaries, like oversharing information, may also make you feel guilty in the long term.

Types of Boundaries

Boundaries are not a fixed, and there are many different boundaries. They can vary from being extremely rigid to porous (weak or too open). The ideal is to balance, and the healthiest boundaries are the flexible ones.

Porous Boundaries: Weak boundaries that drain people’s energy in the end. They may lead to depression, burnout and anxiety, and they may even harm self-esteem. There is a high level of codependency within porous boundaries.

  • Not being able to say no.
  • Enmeshment with people’s boundaries
  • Agreeing with everything
  • Feeling much too responsible for other’s actions
  • Being dependent on other people’s opinions when making decisions

Rigid Boundaries: Having tight walls and not letting anyone in your inner circle. Not sharing anything, having extreme fear of vulnerability. People with rigid boundaries hesitate to share with others. Performs extremely protective and avoidant behavior. Would not ask for help.

Healthy Boundaries: They are flexible yet extremely present. This means that the person knows when to share information and with whom. They can also be intimate and trusting but with a right balanced amount. You know when to say yes and when to no, and be apparent and assertive when necessary in expressing your opinions.

Boundary types may change depending on the relationship. For instance, someone who has extremely porous boundaries with parents may be too rigid with strangers. The different boundaries that we have are physical, sexual, intellectual, emotional, material and time.

How to set your boundaries to a healthy level

  • The key to setting healthy boundaries is getting to know yourself. Here is an informative article about getting to know yourself.
  • Whenever you say yes to someone, you are sacrificing something; maybe that thing could be something you would like more of. Therefore, consider it thoroughly when you say yes.
  • Practice polite ways to say no. “I have things that I need to take care of first. I don’t think I can make it.” , “It is not a good idea for me.”, “I am not the best person to ask this why not try ___________.” , “Sorry to tell you this, but I need to do somethin else______ (now, that day).”, “Let me think about it, then I will let you know.”
  • Practice assertiveness. You may want to produce sentences like this.

If someone gets angry at you, say, “I don’t understand why you are angry at me, but I am sure there are more polite and calm ways to express why you are not happy with me.”

You have already been married for 5 years; don’t you consider having kids? “I am sorry; I don’t want to talk about this with you. Besides, this is something that I could only discuss with my husband.”

Someone is always late to a meeting. “I recognize that you are not on time for the previous 3 appointments; maybe we set our appointment to a realistic time, or you try not to be late.”

Someone who asks for money, and you don’t want to lend. “I am sorry; my financial situation is not stable currently, so it is not possible for me to lend that money to you.”

  • Keep a diary. If there are times that you think you stepped on other people’s boundaries, write them in your diary. For instance, if you overshared information or said “yes” just to please others. Then elaborate on the situation, in which situation do you do this. Try to seek out patterns. It will make you more aware of your tendencies. To the diary, also add your emotions. Do you feel guilty or sad about rejecting someone? It can also be the opposite, like building anger or resentment because your boundaries are violated.
  • Every day, meditate; imagine a circle around yourself. Imagine that you are safe in that circle, and it is up to you to let people into that circle or keep it at a distance. Here is an informative article about meditation.
  • Make a list of which aspects your boundaries are porous, in which aspects they are rigid and which aspects they are healthy (i.e., relationship with friends, family and parents).

2 Comments

  1. […] needs to work on her boundaries to be able to say “no” to her […]

  2. […] you want to work on, what you don’t want to work on, who you like to spend time with, and your boundaries. The earlier you start thinking about this, the more fulfillment that you would get from life. […]

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