How to Establish Healthy Boundaries

Setting up boundaries is more than just having a lock on your bedroom door or saying “no.” It’s about looking into yourself and asking what you are comfortable with in life. How you communicate with others and how they interact with you is important: You want to make sure they respect the physical and emotional boundaries you set up for your well-being. Here at EmpowHERto, we believe that helping yourself to some boundaries will, in turn, lead to a more confident you in 2021. Read on for more details.

Set Your Boundaries

It’s important to realize your own self-worth and establish different categories for the people in your life (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) and how you want to be treated by them. Developing strong boundaries at an early age will give you the confidence to navigate the world as an adult. 

Boundaries help you define what you are comfortable with and how you would like to be treated by others. They can vary from limiting late-night phone calls from friends or co-workers to going out when you’d rather stay home, doing professional work for free, and even lending money. 

Family and friends: While the people closest to you are the most important, it is still healthy to set boundaries between you and your family and friends. 

  • Do not be afraid to let your voice be heard. In a rational manner, rather than opting for an aggressive tone, let your family and friends know when they have overstepped a boundary. They should respect you and the choices you’ve made for yourself. 
  • Consequences are necessary, as it shows your family and friends the importance of the boundaries you set. It can be as simple as keeping your distance, or more drastic measures can include hanging up on a phone call or avoiding contact altogether for a short period of time. These methods should get the message across. 
  • Be ready for negative reactions, but do not let them deter you on your quest to set boundaries. You may think that your family’s or friends’ reactions are an indicator that you have done something wrong, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. By setting your own unique boundaries, you are giving yourself the gift of self-preservation (protecting yourself from harm, especially mental harm) and a chance to live a more peaceful, happier life. 

Co-workers: While you can be close-knit with your co-workers, remember that you are in a place of business, and serious work is being conducted. You are more than deserving of respect and workplace etiquette should be practiced by all. 

  • Transparency is key: let your co-workers know what current projects you’re working on as well as your deadlines. They will be less likely to bombard you with further requests that may hinder your productivity. If you feel like you are taking on too much work, do not be afraid to let your boss know. 
  • Keep small talk small: It may seem rude to end a conversation but remember you are at work and tasks need to be done. Politely end the conversation with your co-worker who may be overstepping the small talk threshold by excusing yourself, and explaining that you need to finish a project before a deadline. This may be easier to do if you’re working remotely. The key would be to silence your phone and limit your instant messaging and texts.  
  • Never be afraid to speak up and to say no. While it may be uncomfortable at first, you will realize that saying no is a sure way to let the individual know they have overstepped your boundaries. It’s perfectly OK to turn down a project or task because you are already busy with existing tasks. However, there will be times where you have no choice but to take on extra tasks at work to meet an important and unmovable deadline. If the boundary being broken is more on the physical side, it’s important to speak up, rather than keep it to yourself. Inappropriate touching is something women should never deal with, period. It may be scary at first but think of the other women who will be protected in the long run. 

Maintain Your Boundaries

For physical and emotional boundaries, the key is discipline and consistency. Exercising your right to these boundaries in everyday scenarios will establish a sense of normalcy for you. The more you do it, the easier it will become. Think of maintaining these boundaries as a mental exercise. Envision your life as these boundaries are respected and maintained. Isn’t it nice? That can serve as your motivation to keep going strong, rather than falling behind on your path towards a happier life.

Make Someone Aware When They’ve Crossed a Boundary

Speak out when your boundaries are being crossed. Staying silent will accomplish nothing. I recommend coming up with a routine or protocol to follow in order to handle a situation where someone has crossed your boundaries. It could simply be removing yourself from the situation to give yourself time to cool off or perhaps try redirecting the person’s energy back at them and turn the conversation on its head by steering the attention away from you. One way to do this could be asking them how they’d feel if the situation were reversed. 

Create Healthy Boundaries for the Future

As you become an adult, your boundaries might change a little and that’s perfectly fine. I think it’s also important to know that boundaries are meant to empower you, and not limit you in your everyday actions. So while no one wants to have anyone intruding in their personal bubble, it’s also healthy for you to step out of your comfort zone (but only if it’s on your own terms, and not due to pressure from family, friends, or co-workers). Simply put, you are at a stage where you need to stay in control of your own life decisions. The choices you make now will determine the kind of life you are willing to create for yourself and you are most definitely deserving of one! 

If you’d like to read more about creating boundaries, here are some suggested articles: 

10 Way to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries

How To Make Sure Your Coworkers Respect Your Boundaries And Time

7 Ways To Set Boundaries With Your Family, According To A Life Coach

Read more topics on mental health on our blog. Follow us on social media @empowherto.org

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