Setting Healthy Boundaries
I will be the first to admit that I haven’t always been the best when it comes to setting healthy boundaries. It’s definitely something that you learn over time, especially after being mistreated & manipulated several times in your lifetime. It’s important to be honest & upfront with your expectations. Boundaries are what set the space between where you end & another person begins. Healthy boundaries involve defining what you will & will not tolerate, clearly communicating what you need, protecting your well-being, standing firm in your needs, & respecting the needs of others.
Here are some examples of healthy boundary setting:
- “When you bail on our plans without giving me a timely & considerate heads up, I feel like you don’t respect me or my time. I will understand if you lose track of time, get caught up, & need to reschedule, but not replying to me for three hours after we were supposed to meet up is unacceptable behavior that I will not tolerate again in the future.”
- “Please do not go through my personal belongings. I have nothing to hide from you, but when you invade my personal space, I feel like you don’t trust me & think that I’m hiding something from you. Can we please talk about why you feel this way so that you don’t feel the need to do this again in the future?”
- “I do not appreciate when you make comments about my weight. I have body dysmorphia, & I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. Even when I’m underweight or overweight according to my BMI, what I see in the mirror always looks exactly the same. I understand that you’re concerned about my health, but I can assure you that I’m very self-aware & taking care of my body to the best of my ability.”
- “I don’t want to go to the party tonight. I’m mentally exhausted from work, & I’m worried that I will ruin the vibe for everyone else, if you force me to go. I promise to attend the next social event with you, when I can be more social & know that I’ll be able to be good company.”
Don’t think that your boundaries always have to be negative as well. You can also set boundaries to encourage the behaviors that you want to receive more often. Here are some examples of boundaries you can set in a way that encourages the positive reinforcement of good behaviors:
- “When you text me Good Morning, Goodnight, or simply check in with me regarding my well-being, I feel so special. I appreciate that you care so much & are always thinking about me.”
- “When you kiss my forehead, I feel so cherished & precious. Thank you for showing me how much you love me through the smallest gestures.”
- “When you go more than 48 hours without reaching out when you’re away, I worry about your safety & well-being. I always want you to have fun & enjoy the time you have with your friends/family, but please just let me know that you’re safe when you get a free moment, because I want you to come back home to me.”
A good rule of thumb is to use the formula: “When you do X, I feel Y + solution for the future”. When you have strong boundaries, you learn how to always respect yourself & how to respect others. Your needs will be consistently met, & in turn, you’re more assertive & much less likely to be angry or have resentment towards others. Settings healthy boundaries is important for yourself as well as all the different types of relationships that you’ll have in your lifetime, both professional & personal.