Boundaries: Making and Keeping Them
John is an excellent student. He works full-time and takes college classes. He sees his friends periodically, but due to his schedule his friends are only available to play online video games late at night, so he sacrifices sleep in order to spend time with them. Lately, his mind races when he needs to
be sleeping. At home, his family expects him to pick up additional responsibilities and chores and unload on him emotionally because he is still living there. He doesn’t have time for any self-care and is beginning to become stressed and depressed about his workload and home life. How can boundaries help?
According to Margarita Tartakovsky, Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn. Having healthy
boundaries mean “knowing and understanding what your limits are.”
She observes 10 ways to build and maintain them.
- Name your limits (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual). Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed.
- Tune into your feelings. Discomfort and resentment are red flags. The more intense the feeling, the need for boundaries. Ask yourself, “What is it about this interaction or the person’s expectation that is bothering me?”
- Be Direct. Speak up and say no.
- Give yourself permission. Fear, guilt, and self-doubt are pitfalls to maintaining healthy boundaries. Boundaries are a sign of self-respect. Work to preserve them.
- Practice Self-Awareness. Tune into your feelings and honor them. Notice the changes causing you resentment or stress.
- Consider your past or present. How you were raised along with your role in your family can become additional obstacles in setting and preserving boundaries.
- Make self-care a priority. Give yourself permission to put yourself first. Putting yourself first also gives you the “energy, peace of mind, and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there” for them.”
- Seek Support. Practice setting boundaries within a group. In turn, the group helps one another stay accountable for setting and maintaining them.
- Be assertive. Follow through. Respectfully communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary. Let them know what has bothered you so you can address it together.
- Start small. What is the single most effective thing you can do right now to make one small thing in your life better?
“Setting boundaries takes courage, practice, and support, but it is
something that can be mastered.
Not sure where to start? Give me a call at SHCS.