The Importance of Boundaries
I have been exploring boundaries: my own, the ones I see and respect from my loved ones, and conversations around boundaries. What does it mean to someone else to place boundaries? How are their boundaries challenged? How do they define boundaries within themselves as well as outwardly setting effective boundaries? Then, I spent some time watching and really listening to videos by our Clinical Manager, Sara Klinkhamer, on Sunshine Coast Health Centre’s YouTube page; particularly the series on The Importance of Boundaries.
She explains in an easily adapted way what it means to set boundaries, how to know when a boundary is necessary, how to simplify the process and underlying communication breakdowns. Boundaries are a way of protecting ourselves and remaining authentic within our values. When faced with a situation that makes us feel resentful, taken advantage of, or hurt, it is an opportunity to set a boundary. Ensuring your boundaries are realistic and are within your control is paramount as well as allowing yourself the space to be uncomfortable when setting boundaries. We all have limitations and the more we learn about ourselves the more comfortable we get with those limitations.
How to Set Boundaries
To set a boundary, you have to decide what you are in control of and what result you need from the boundary being in place. By exploring your values and beliefs, you gain a deeper understanding of your wants and needs, illuminating just what you are seeking in setting a boundary. Having realistic boundaries free of ultimatums makes it easy to follow through with your boundaries as well as for others to respect them.
Once you figure out what boundary you need to set, it is your responsibility to clearly communicate it in a calm and assertive manner. Give a concise explanation so all parties involved can better understand and respect your boundaries. Then, once you have executed your boundaries you need to stay consistent in maintaining them to avoid giving mixed messages to those around you.
While staying consistent is important, it is also important to provide flexibility. Know that your values and beliefs may evolve over time and that your boundaries can evolve with them as you see the need. Again, establishing excellent communication around your choices is vital. Constantly checking in with your feelings and where your values are resting helps you establish a better understanding of what you need from your relationships.
Challenges when Setting and Maintaining Boundaries
There are a number of challenges that come with setting boundaries ranging from self-confidence to fear of upsetting close personal relationships. However, boundaries are crucial in strengthening relationships. As you grow to understand each other’s boundaries, you become more in tune and can more organically avoid challenging each other’s boundaries.
Having someone you love challenging your boundaries can lead you to want to react in a way that is of strong emotion or low integrity. Feelings of hurt and disrespect can distract you from what you can and cannot control. You are responsible for setting your boundary, communicating your boundary, and ensuring you follow through with it. You are also responsible for your behaviour when those boundaries are being challenged. You are not responsible for anyone’s actions aside from your own and you cannot control someone’s respect around your boundary, but you can evaluate how that affects you and how you would like to respond.
So before reacting in a hostile or rash way, take a moment to re-evaluate your feelings. How you can better manage your boundaries while finding a way to move forward and regaining the trust that may have been lost in the process? How can you continue to ensure your boundaries are clear to those around you.
What do I Need?
So with some self-awareness and reflection, you can better understand your values and beliefs. Having a clear understanding of your wants and needs helps you easily determine the boundaries you need to ensure your emotional protection. Emotional protection can assist in building your self-worth and outward trust. That is not to say it won’t be uncomfortable, challenging, or bumpy every step of the way. But, in watching Sara’s videos and trying to locate my own boundaries and all the underlying factors to go along with, I learned that there is a real assuredness in conserving personal authenticity from boundaries.
I believe that as humans, we are inevitably put in uncomfortable situations at some point and boundaries are a way to better control the discomfort that comes with close relationships. By setting a boundary, we are getting the uncomfortable moment out of the way rather than waiting for the boundary to be crossed, without the other party knowing, leading to potentially a much more upsetting situation. Boundaries allow us the opportunity to be uncomfortable while staying true to ourselves. Ultimately leading to strengthened bonds and relationships of a much deeper calibre; a true understanding of your own and each other’s needs.