A boundary is a limit or space between you and the other person, which indicates what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behaviour towards us. A boundary is healthy for you and protects and takes good care of you! Setting clear personal boundaries is the key to ensuring relationships that are mutually respectful, supportive and caring. Boundaries are a measure of self-esteem. They set the limits for acceptable behaviour from those around you, determining whether they feel able to put you down, make fun, or take advantage of your good nature.
We always intend to go beyond our limits and not think what is actually good for us and beneficial for us. We often break the boundaries we have made and regret it later, therefore setting a boundary and not breaking it is really important. It keeps us in control and leads us to a good destination!
When I was a teenager, peer pressure was immense. So much so that I didn't realize that I was giving into it. On the face of it it was so much fun and life affirming. But little did I know that I was losing myself just to belong to the cool-and-fun girl gang I had. I would often feel heavy in my heart and exhausted by the end of the day even when all I would have done that day was to go to the movies with my friends.
This feeling was daunting enough to make me squirm under my blanket, not wanting to go out in the world and do anything. The symptoms, thankfully, were visible. With help, I came to terms with my situation - I realized that I was giving into people pleasing and that's what was wrong. Hence, began a journey of self-recovery, self-knowledge and healing.
Though I learnt it the hard way, it was worth every penny to have understood the importance of setting personal boundaries. Here's why boundary setting is important:
1. More compassion. People with strong boundaries are the most compassionate. Does that surprise you? Often people think that setting boundaries is mean or unfair. It’s actually quite the opposite. Letting people know what’s OK and what’s not OK is kind and respectful.
2. Greater assertiveness. Boundaries are a way of asserting your needs. In order to set boundaries, you need to pay attention to how you’re feeling and tune into what you need. You can then assertively ask others to treat you in ways that meet your needs. An added bonus is that you’ll find you’re more assertive in all of your communication.
3. Your needs are met. We all have emotional and physical needs and we all deserve to have our needs met (some we meet ourselves and some are met in relationships). When you speak up and ask for what you need, you’re much more likely to get it!
4. Less anger and resentment. When you let people walk all over you, you feel angry and resentful. You probably find you’re self-critical and angry with yourself for being passive, fearful, and letting others take advantage of you. And you’re angry and resentful at others for mistreating you. When you communicate your needs and expectations clearly (i.e. have healthy boundaries), you are unlikely to be building up resentments and anger.
5. Feeling of peace and safety. For me, this is the greatest benefit of setting boundaries. For some of you, setting boundaries may free you from physical harm. For many, setting boundaries will free you from emotional abuse, verbal attacks, and manipulation. Boundaries also provide emotional freedom from needless energy spent beating yourself up and second-guessing yourself. When I don’t set boundaries, I get stuck in shame and self-doubt. I criticize myself for not asking for respect and allowing others to mistreat me.
It’s important for all of us to have personal boundaries. They dictate how we approach relationships with friends and acquaintances. Our boundaries help us live in-tune with our desires, needs, and feelings. We can say no to the things that we don’t want to do and yes to the things that we want to do.
Clearly established boundaries help us to take care of ourselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. Our boundaries help us to become less concerned about how we are viewed and more satisfied with the perceptions we have of ourselves.