Even though I know the importance of boundaries, through my education and my work, I would rarely use them in relation to my friends. I guess my need to ‘people-please‘ was stronger than any wish to avoid personal harm.
This resulted in me getting hurt, time and time again. No more so than when I tried to help my friend get over their substance abuse problems and domestic abuse (Abuse: Female Perpetrators, Male Victim).
Boundaries are what stop us from getting burnt out and protects us from the harm of trying to help others. They’re an important part of our wellbeing and self-care. Having them also helps protect us from abuse. Thus, this article will examine the usefulness of boundaries and offer advice on how to create and maintain them.
You can’t really talk about having boundaries without talking about co-dependency. Co-dependency is what happens to a relationship if there aren’t healthy boundaries that are respected by those in the relationship. This will cause the relationship to become one-sided, resulting in the neglect of the other’s needs.
Codependency is characterised by:
- Low self-esteem.
- Poor boundaries.
- Intimacy issues.
Boundaries can readdress the problems of co-dependency. Setting them up can help lead to the relationship returning to being fairer and more balanced. It’ll also have the knock-on effect of improving your self-esteem.
Boundaries can be set for all kinds of situations, from what you’re willing to do with your sexual partner to how much time and energy you’re willing to invest in any given task.
- Remember, you’re entitled to your own thoughts and opinions, and so is everyone else.
- Your feelings are important in every situation because everyone’s feelings are valid.
- You are entitled to your own personal space, as is everyone else (I know my partner and I have agreed upon personal space).
- You’re also allowed your own friends and your own social activities and hobbies, and so is everyone else.
- Lastly, you are allowed your own spiritual beliefs, just like everyone else.
Your thoughts, feelings, and everything else matter just as much as the next persons. Creating your boundaries will allow you to be happier and less stressed.
- Make yourself a priority and make your self-care a priority. Setting boundaries is as much about protecting yourself as it is about maintaining healthy relationships with others.
- Having boundaries can help you identify if you’re in an abusive relationship or in a situation that is bad for your mental health and wellbeing. I learnt this the hard way (Abuse: Female Perpetrators, Male Victim).
- It will improve your self-esteem to have boundaries and have others respect them.
- It’ll help you manage your stress better (17 Ways To Manage Stress), which is very important for both your physical and mental health.
- If people aren’t respecting your boundaries, then you’ll know to do something about the relationship with that person. This could be talking about the situation with the person, but if that doesn’t work, changing the type of relationship you have with said person.
- It will also allow you to establish and maintain your independence. My partner and I have some pretty robust boundaries to make sure our independence and personal space are well-established and protected. Which is very important to me due to my borderline personality disorder.
- Lastly, the Loner Wolf had this to say about personal boundaries. Our personal boundaries are an essential part of creating and upholding a healthy self-image. Having strong personal boundaries communicates to the world that we exude healthy self-respect and self-worth. Meaning that by creating boundaries, we will feel good about ourselves and preserve our personal integrity.
It can be hard to set boundaries if we’ve never done so before, or you’re in a co-dependent relationship. However, people in these situations will need to create them more than most.
According to Psych Central, it’s hard for people in co-dependent relationships because they normally put the other person(s) needs, wants, and feelings first. As a result of this, they often don’t know themselves very well and what they need to make them happy. They don’t feel they have rights, and that somehow setting boundaries will jeopardise their relationship.
However, if a relationship can be put at risk because you want your own needs and feelings to be equally respected, then maybe it’s not a relationship you should be in. If they’re not willing to respect your needs and feelings, even after talking to them, then it’s not a real relationship.
It’s also likely that the person in the codependent relationship never learned to have healthy boundaries, which is why it’s important to have them.
What are your rights?
There are some basic rights we should all have, and that we should all consider when we create and maintain our boundaries. According to the Health Line, these are:
- The right to say no without feeling guilty.
- The right to be treated with respect.
- The right to make my needs as important as others.
- The right to be accepting of my mistakes and failures.
- The right not to meet others’ unreasonable expectations of me.
What do you need?
In order to figure out what boundaries you might need, ask yourself a simple question: “What do I need?”
As I’ve previously said, you have every right to have boundaries and to have them respected. Give yourself permission to protect yourself and what you’re willing and not willing to engage in. You have every right to be happy. Boundaries don’t just help with creating healthy relationships, they’re also about the respect you have for yourself.
Setting Your Limits
Know your limits and protect those limits. These limits may change over time, but they should always be set to help you avoid undue stress and other emotional turmoil.
If you’re not used to setting boundaries and getting others to respect them, then start small. Then gradually work your way up to creating bigger boundaries that’ll properly protect you.
Get used to practising self-awareness in order to make sure your boundaries are respected. Also, make sure you’re not ignoring signs that they’ve been disrespected.
Creating your own boundaries and informing others of them is a great start, but if you don’t follow through with them, then you’re only setting yourself up for the pain of failure.
It’s just as important to maintain your boundaries as it is to create them in the first place. But how can you do this?
If someone has invaded your boundary, then the best way to handle that is to be direct with them. Being assertive about your boundaries doesn’t mean that you’re being unkind. It simply means that you are being fair and honest, whilst maintaining your peace and self-respect. It also means that you value your own worth, your needs, and your feelings more than the opinions of others (Psychology Today).
Boundaries should be flexible, but not too flexible. They’re meant to protect you and your wellbeing, not to isolate you. If you set your boundaries in stone, then you won’t have the flexibility that might be required to allow you to enjoy something new. Alternatively, if you make your boundaries too flexible, then you could see them being completely disrespected.
It’s important to review your boundaries from time to time and make adjustments as needed, because all things change, including you and your needs.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences of codependency and creating and maintaining boundaries in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.