I don’t know about you, but when I hear the term “boundaries”, I often get this uncomfortable pit in the bottom of my stomach. It’s so often an unpleasant reaction to experiencing toxicity in a relationship.
The truth is that we often see them portrayed this way, implemented after a negative experience with a peer or colleague or friend or partner…
Really, though, boundaries are meant to be proactive as well. They’re meant to help build the foundation of a healthy relationship. And they’re great tools for each side of the relationship.
Not only do boundaries tell us what we value but they help us know how we can best support those we love. They show others how we want to be treated and- when enforced- help to build confidence and great social skills imperative to our self care.
You’ve likely been establishing light boundaries with friends throughout your life, without even realizing it. Maybe you’ve:
Asked that friends give you as much notice as possible, if they’re unable to show up for your plans
Asked that friends inquire whether you have the mental space to chat before unloading on you
Asked that important conversations be done in person and not via text or email
These are all types of boundaries that develop naturally throughout relationships.
Communicating healthy boundaries and expectations with your loved ones can be an important tool for ensuring a long and healthy (and mutually fulfilling) relationship- of any kind.
But how do I know what boundaries to implement?
How do I incorporate them into my relationships?
Won’t I be seen as confrontational or selfish by my peers?
Let’s talk about it.
be aware of your expectations and needs within your interpersonal life
Of course, these will differ between relationships and you won’t always have the answers, but knowing your needs and desires from those around you is an imperative step for establishing boundaries. Similarly, knowing what you don’t want from those relationships is equally as important.
COMMUNICATE YOUR FINDINGS WITH YOUR LOVED ONES
Okay, this one might feel weird, but hear me out.
While some formal announcement of your needs and desires and expectations isn’t necessary, communicating them to your loved ones is key. Every single person inhabiting our beautiful world is unique. We have different experiences, personalities, passions, etc. And so of course our needs are all different! And as much as you know your friends and family, we aren’t all mind readers. How can we expect our loved ones to respect our boundaries if we’ve not taken the time to communicate them?
ESTABLISH NEW BOUNDARIES AS NEEDED
Although it can feel uncomfortable- especially for those of us who hate confrontation- setting boundaries isn’t mean and it doesn’t have to be negative. Often, we set boundaries because we love and value our relationship, but recognize we need to pivot in order to ensure the friendship lasts.
Maybe we’ve gone through a big life change and our needs or views are now different. Maybe we simply need a change of pace.
Whatever the reason, when we’re feeling a change needs to be made, it’s important to acknowledge that, reflect and establish new boundaries as soon as possible. The longer we wait to do so, the harder it becomes. Sometimes, that discomfort grows into annoyance, frustration or resentment.
ENFORCE YOUR BOUNDARIES WHEN NEEDED
For me, this is the toughest part. I’m fairly scared of confrontation, and I’m a recovering People Pleaser. My suspicion is that many of you relate.
Combatting this fear starts with re-framing your beliefs surrounding boundaries. Confronting what fears you have about enforcing these boundaries will help you overcome and challenge these (often faulty) beliefs.
Our Negative Thoughts Notepad was designed specifically to help you identify and challenge faulty thinking patterns and firmly held beliefs.
Re-framing the need to enforce your boundaries is a powerful tool in your tool box, so think of it like this:
Establishing and enforcing your boundaries is an act of love. Not only is it a form of self care, self love and self respect, but it demonstrates that you value the relationship and want for it to grow and evolve along with you.
Boundaries are merely invitations to grow and thrive together, and that’s kind of beautiful, isn’t it?