Knowing what we’re willing to share, who has access to our inner circle, and when questions are crossing the line is one thing, but expressing it effectively is another. Here, we’re exploring how to set and maintain healthy boundaries
Boundaries are how we teach the world to treat us. They are all about what is and isn’t acceptable, and draw the line between who we are, and who the world wants us to be.
Particularly when interacting with another human who has different priorities, needs, and desires, boundaries are crucial in order to not blend into each other, and to be able to separate what they want from what we need. When we are unable to do that, this is when codependency, enmeshment, and simple confusion can occur. We lose sight of who we are, and our own identity when our daily decisions are formed by what others are asking of us.
When we lack confidence, it is tempting to cave to everyone around us, as we might be insecure that if we don’t, we will lose the people in our lives. This is why the easiest and simplest boundary, the one we first learn, is actually quite a hard word to say: no. When we are able to use our no accurately, our yes becomes more powerful.
Unfortunately, when we say no though, it can be inconvenient to others, and if you don’t stand behind your no, you leave yourself vulnerable to change your mind simply to make things easier for them. It can be really upsetting when people only want you around for what you can do for them, but, over time, you will reap the benefits of boundary setting. You will have more time and energy, you can say goodbye to burnout, and all the anger and resentment you are keeping inside you every time one of your boundaries is crossed can finally be relieved.
Here, we’re sharing some essential tips on how you can implement and maintain healthy boundaries in the three main relationship areas of your life.
One of the biggest complaints I hear about family relationships is that family members feel entitled to their opinions about your life, your job, your romantic relationships, and your body. How you can create a boundary around this is by limiting the information they have access to. This can be by stating: “I’m not ready to share that with you yet, but I’ll let you know when I am ready.” If they don’t know, they can’t have an opinion about it.
But, what if it’s too late and they already know? Then try saying: “I have already made my decision, and your opinions are not needed. I would appreciate it if you could be supportive.”
When it comes to conversations about your body, I encourage you to be firmer. Your body should never be up for discussion at a family event, and we need to stop normalising everyone commenting on changes in our appearance. In those situations, I simply state: “Please stop commenting on my body.” If this persists, I then say: “If you continue talking about my body, I am going to leave this conversation, and you can come find me when you are ready to talk about something else.”
In my book, The Joy of Being Selfish, I explain that it is OK to have different