Boundaries protect our morals, beliefs and values, they define the decisions we make and the life we live. Traditionally speaking, Women have been expected to be agreeable, obedient, kind and caring at all costs even if it is detrimental to their wellbeing, there is a shift in what it means to be a women today; However, these core beliefs still unconsciously drive women’s thoughts and limit their ability to maintain healthy boundaries.
Benefits of Healthy Boundaries:
- Optimal Mental Health
- Developed Self Awareness & Confidence
- Positive and Authentic Relationships
- Avoidance of Burnout
- Emotional Wellbeing
Even if we know that it is healthy to set boundaries it can be difficult to know where to set them, especially if we have set a standard in our relationships for our interactions. Some tensions can arise when affirming your boundaries, especially with those you have long existing relationships with. Be prepared for this by presenting your resolution to the boundary setting and why it is important to you. Setting a boundary is easy, implementing it can be hard.
We all have moments when we let our boundaries slip, whether it’s to avoid disappointing someone, avoiding conflict, shame/guilt feelings or perhaps it’s just easier to agree.
Here are some ideas to help with setting boundaries.
- Explore your needs, values and desires and what boundaries may help prioritise them.
Having an understanding of what your needs and values are can help you set a framework for setting boundaries in order to live a life that you ultimately want.
Most of us rank family at the top of our values; however, with a career, home, children, demanding job or just by putting others ahead of ourselves (“people pleaser syndrome), it is easy to lose sight of what is priority.
Exercise for reflecting on your Values & Aligning them with your boundaries
- List your 5 values/wants/needs/desires that you would like to prioritise, that may be affected by limited ability to set boundaries, they should be specific and individual to you.
- Next to your priorities, list ways you fulfill them, eg. Priority #1- Emotional Wellbeing fulfilled by – doing a daily walk.
Next, reflect on ways you can maintain this priority, consider boundaries that you may need to enforce to keep these important values at the top. Next, write down the side of the priorities and the methods of boundary setting you can put into action (regardless of the fallout).
|Priorities/Values/Needs & Desires ect.
||How to maintain
||Strategies for boundary setting
|Emotional Self Care
||Speak with your partner to inform them of your plan to do a walk every morning,
explaining that this is part of a self-care routine and something that cannot be missed.
|Time spent with Family
||Regularly set aside time to spend with family
||Speak with manager about work availability, what hours you are willing to offer and when you need time off.
2. Ensure you clearly communicate the boundary and if necessary the consequential result of the boundary violation. For example, your good friend is running late to your social outing again, they always run late and you often wait a long time for them to arrive. By recognising this is a violation of your time, you could request they meet you on time, offer a suitable amount of time you are willing to wait for them and let them know a consequence for not respecting this. “Jess I’d really like to meet you for lunch however I do need to get back to work afterwards, if you are not there by 1.45 at the latest I will leave the cafe to get back to work for the day.” This is an offer that accounts for some flexibility and respects your own personal time boundaries.
3. Transparency with boundary setting
Be honest if you are feeling uncomfortable, expressing the emotion you feel to setting the boundary and why you are setting it gives the other person a chance to your perspective before becoming defensive.
4. Prepare to set a boundary
If you’re aware of the need to set a boundary why not plan your response for next time the situation arises. Having the words prepared to set a boundary increases the chance of you following through. Start by writing down how you would like to articulate the conversation on paper and commit to it.
Template for articulating a boundary setting:
- Acknowledge the discomfort of fear of setting the boundary
- Explain the reason for the boundary
- State the boundary clearly
5. When confronted with defensiveness, stick to the point.
Often the boundary you put in place may have a defensive response, try not to get caught up in the other person’s defensiveness and get back to the main point you are trying to make.
6. Imagine the outcome of the set boundary.
It can be overwhelming to start speaking up for what you want, especially if you have not done so previously. When hesitation creeps in, remind yourself of the many ways you will benefit from setting firm boundaries, think of how your life can be different if you make choices that align with your truth, your values and your desired outcome.