Understanding Healthy Boundaries: 4 Tips to Making Boundaries Easier to Set



What are Boundaries?


Physical versus Emotional Boundaries:

Boundaries include physical boundaries, as well as, emotional boundaries. Boundaries are a huge part of developing our sense of identity in the world.


Physical boundaries include your body, personal space, and privacy. Examples of common physical boundaries are:

  • proximity (how close someone stands)

  • physical touch

  • property (and privacy of your personal belongings)


Emotional boundaries allow you to separate your feelings from the feelings of others. Examples of common emotional boundaries include:

  • taking ownership/responsibility for another’s feelings

  • letting another’s feelings change yours

  • putting the needs of others before your own

  • blaming others for your problems.


Why are they so important?

Unhealthy boundaries can lead to codependency, depression, and anxiety. Not having our boundaries honored can cause us to feel “burnt out” and in turn be less available physically and emotionally for ourselves and those around us. What happens when we feel our boundaries are being violated? Resentment. Resentment can fester and cause stress in your relationship(s).

Setting boundaries creates a foundation for what you accept and allow into your life. Creating a sense of autonomy by allowing you to choose what is best for you-not what is best for those around you. Having healthy boundaries with others can influence them to also create healthy boundaries in their life!


Why can they be so hard to set?

Do you ever struggle with feeling guilty for setting a boundary?

Sometimes we’ve learned from early experiences that sharing our needs would make us:

a. “Vulnerable”

b. “Too sensitive”

c. “Uptight”

d. “Unavailable/Unsupportive”

The perception others have of us doesn’t have to be our “truth”. As we’ve discussed setting and applying boundaries is what keeps us our “best selves” when giving to others. Honoring our feelings and values allows us to feel aligned.


How can I honor my boundaries?

1. Be clear:

Don’t sugar-coat it- be completely honest (with yourself and others). Boundaries are black and white, there should be no grey areas left for confusion. If you notice yourself overexplaining- stop, and keep it simple.


2. Remember that your boundaries aren’t intended to hurt others:

We can’t control or be responsible for how someone else feels or interprets our words. If your boundary hurts someone’s feelings its worth exploring- but don’t automatically throw your boundary out the window because it “feels easier” to make those around you comfortable.


3. Consequences are an import part of setting boundaries:

If there are no consequences when your boundaries are violated then that means you haven’t set a clear boundary. This isn’t to overexplain, but instead to state why your boundary is important.


4. Keep the focus on you:

Boundaries aren’t meant to shame others. Instead of, “You always walk into my room without knocking! I hate it-stop doing that!” try: “I prefer when people knock before coming into my room so I’m not shocked or startled”.


It is so important to make healthy boundaries a priority throughout your daily life - work, social environments and relationships. Take the time to strengthen them, cultivate them and be heard.


 

Annabella Lipson is a Mental Health Counselor at Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling in Scarsdale, NY.

She enjoys working with teens & adults who are dealing with stress, anxiety, college transitions, and other behavioral challenges.


Annabella incorporates a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness practices with her clients