I personally have struggled for some time now with boundaries. This week I found a post on the social media platforms for the Hiki app, an online dating and friendship app for the autism community. This topic was requested by one of their users because they too struggle with boundaries. Boundaries can be difficult to define and build, but once you do, you will feel better physically and mentally.
If you’re unsure where a personal boundary starts ask yourself, does this feel comfortable, does this feel wrong, or does this feel off? Usually, by trusting our gut or intuition we can see where a boundary needs to be put in place in our life. Don’t compare your needs to others. What someone else finds acceptable you may not. And that’s ok! We will all have different levels of what we find comfortable. All should be respected. Do your best to communicate your boundaries and be very clear about what you need from others.
Often if you aren’t crystal clear people will not take them seriously. Try your best not to apologize or over-explain your needs. You aren’t doing anything wrong when it comes to your own comfort zone. You have nothing to apologize for. If someone violates a boundary, speak up immediately. Don’t allow your needs to be repeatedly walked over. This will allow others to continue doing it.
People are more likely to respect your boundaries if you let them know they have been violated right away. Understand that not everyone will respect your boundaries all of the time. And it’s OK if you choose not to be around those people. Someone that repeatedly crosses your personal boundaries does not respect you and they do not deserve a place in your life. We should never feel guilt about prioritizing our mental health.
Learning to set healthy personal boundaries is necessary for maintaining a positive self-concept, or self-image.
It is our way of communicating to others that we have self-respect, self-worth, and will not allow others to define us.
Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.
It would not be possible to enjoy healthy relationships without the existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate them directly and honestly with others. We must recognize that each of us is a unique individual with distinct emotions, needs and preferences. This is equally true for our spouses, children and friends.
To set personal boundaries means to preserve your integrity, take responsibility for who you are, and to take control of your life.
How do we establish healthy personal boundaries?
Know that you have a right to personal boundaries. You not only have the right, but you must take responsibility for how you allow others to treat you. Your boundaries act as filters permitting what is acceptable in your life and what is not. If you don’t have boundaries that protect and define you, as in a strong sense of identity, you tend to derive your sense of worth from others. To avoid this situation, set clear and decisive limits so that others will respect them, then be willing to do whatever it takes to enforce them. Interestingly, it’s been shown that those who have weak boundaries themselves tend to violate the boundaries of others.
Identify the actions and behaviors that you find unacceptable. Let others know when they’ve crossed the line, acted inappropriately, or disrespected you in any way. Do not be afraid to tell others when you need emotional and physical space. Allow yourself to b e who you really are without pressure from others to be anything else. Know what actions you may need to take if your wishes aren’t respected.
Trust and believe in yourself. You are the highest authority on you. You know yourself best. You know what you need, want, and value. Don’t let anyone else make the decisions for you. Healthy boundaries make it possible for you to respect your strengths, abilities and individuality as well as those of others. An unhealthy imbalance occurs when you encourage neediness, or are needy; want to be rescued, or are the rescuer, or when you choose to play the victim.
Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries
- Going against personal values or rights in order to please others
- Giving as much as you can for the sake of giving
- Taking as much as you can for the sake of taking
- Letting others define you
- Expecting others to fill your needs automatically
- Feeling bad or guilty when you say no
- Not speaking up when you are treated poorly
- Falling apart so someone can take care of you
- Falling “in love” with someone you barely know or who reaches out to you
- Accepting advances, touching and sex that you don’t want
- Touching a person without asking
When we possess healthy personal boundaries:
✔ We have improved self-confidence and a healthy self-concept
✔ We are more in touch with reality
✔ Are better able to communicate with others
✔ Have better more fulfilling relationships
✔ Have more stability and control over our lives
It is never too late to work on establishing healthy personal boundaries.
Sources for this post come from: Essential Life Skills and the Hiki app on Social Media