An essential skill that can transform your life is setting healthy boundaries, but it's something my clients often struggle with. Setting boundaries is about honouring your own needs instead of sacrificing ourselves. Boundaries are a reflection of your self-worth, what you are and aren’t willing to tolerate.
Boundaries are the invisible lines that define where you end and others begin. They are the rules and limits we establish to protect our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Setting boundaries isn't about being selfish; it's about self-care, self-respect, and maintaining healthy relationships. There are six different types:
Physical boundaries: Boundaries related to your needs for personal space, your comfort with touch, and physical needs like rest, food, thirst, etc.
Sexual boundaries: Boundaries related to sex, including consent, sexual needs, and privacy
Emotional boundaries: Boundaries related to respecting and honouring feelings, emotions, and energy levels
Material boundaries: Boundaries related to material possessions and money
Time boundaries: Boundaries related to how much time you have in your schedule (including time for yourself)
Intellectual boundaries: Boundaries related to thoughts, ideas, and personal opinions
How to set healthy boundaries
1. Clearly explain what happened & what you're feeling
Being able to communicate how you feel and what you want in life is important for keeping the energy in your throat chakra flowing. Describe how the situation unfolded in black-and white-terms, trying not to judge the other person. Use 'I statements' to not trigger defensiveness in the person and to express the emotions and feelings you had in that interaction.
For example, if you're setting a time boundary with a work colleague who wants you to pick up an extra task that is out of your scope, you could open the conversation by saying, "That sounds like a great initiative but I've got a lot on my plate right now so won’t have capacity to help.”
As another example, if you are setting an intellectual boundary with someone who wants to argue about opposing viewpoints, you could open the conversation with, "I can see we have different thoughts on this topic and that's OK, but I don't feel OK when you make comments about my character."
2. Communicate the boundary
This is actually very straightforward, communicate your boundary assertively and clearly to the person. Don’t be afraid to speak your truth and really own it. People generally appreciate when
you are straightforward rather than beating around the bush, they can’t respect your boundary if they don’t know what it is.
3. Learn to say “no”
Whether it's to do additional work or socialising when your tank is empty, protect your time. It's okay to decline requests or commitments that don't align with your priorities or overwhelm you. You can reinforce the boundary by thanking the person for honouring it.
Setting boundaries in your life is a transformative step on your wellness journey. It's about creating a life that aligns with your values, reduces stress, and fosters healthy relationships.
Setting boundaries is an ongoing practice. As your needs change, so can your boundaries. Be patient with yourself as you learn to assertively communicate and protect your well-being. By setting and maintaining boundaries, you'll create the space to thrive.