Boundaries Part 2 of A Survival Guide for the Festive Season (5 min read)
Counselling Services WA 09.12.2018
Good Personal Boundaries set the scene for healthy relationships. Knowing where you end and other begins, what is your business and what is someone else’s business (aka not your business!).
How do you know when someone has stepped into your business? Is it a thought that they are trying to organise you? Is it advice that you didn’t ask for? Do you recognise when you have stepped into another person’s business? Are you giving unsolicited advice – telling others what to do, when they haven’t asked, or trying to organise others into how you want things to be?
You create boundaries to explain what is and isn’t acceptable to you, to set limits for yourself and to create safety for yourself.
There are different types of personal boundaries. These include emotional, intellectual (your mind), physical and spiritual (how you make sense of yourself in the world).
Being able to identify and understand your feelings, will help you to work out what is right and wrong for you. Having good boundaries means knowing you have the right to express how you feel to others. This means feeling sure that you have the right to let others know what is or isn’t right for you. It’s also important to be able to identify which feelings are yours and which feelings belong to others.
When boundaries are unclear you may take on other people’s feelings, thinking they are your own. Or the opposite, you dump all your unhappy feelings onto others, overstepping their boundaries. Your emotional boundaries are connected to the thoughts, beliefs and values you have about yourself. Healthy emotional boundaries come from understanding you have choices about how you feel and therefore a choice around how you behave.
These boundaries are related to your mind and the way you think. It’s about knowing you have a right to your opinion and others have a right to theirs. It’s about honouring what is right for you and not allowing others to persuade you to their way of thinking.
Your values and beliefs will influence the boundaries you set for yourself. Have you reviewed them? Do they still work for you, or do they need updating?
Another intellectual boundary is recognising when something is not your business and letting it go. A good intellectual boundary is being able to trust in yourself and what you think is right for you.
An important point to consider is that advice giving, when not requested, is crossing another person’s boundary. It can suggest that they are not capable of making their own decisions. When people need advice, they’ll usually ask for it.
Physical boundaries are around setting limits for your body and the personal space that you decide is comfortable between you and others. Are you comfortable with people touching you, or does someone stepping too close make you feel uneasy?
It is also about your privacy. Being able to find space and time for you to look after yourself and do the things you need to do on your own. Good physical boundaries include learning to say no, if something doesn’t feel right, removing yourself from harmful situations and setting yourself healthy limits, so that you don’t stretch yourself too far. Physical boundaries include sexual boundaries. You have the right to give or refuse permission for another person to touch you, or for you to touch them. You and only you decide what is comfortable for you.
This boundary is a very personal and individual boundary.
It’s about your own beliefs and your meaning of life. What is important to you? For some, it is religion. For others, it may come from being in touch with nature or a belief in the universe. Yet others may believe life is all about having fun and being happy. There are many beliefs and it is important that you honour what feels right for you and what works in your life.
In our very diverse country, there may be many people’s beliefs that differ greatly to yours. It is overstepping another’s boundaries if you put down their beliefs, even if you feel they are wrong.
Being able to set healthy boundaries for yourself will depend on several elements. It will depend on your level of self-esteem, your ability to recognise your rights, your understanding of your responsibilities and where your responsibility ends. It will also depend on your ability to express yourself clearly and honestly.
When you don’t set boundaries, you can find yourself focussing on others and ignoring yourself. Or it might be that you put up with unacceptable behaviour and do things you don’t want to do. You may end up giving mixed messages, or overstepping other people’s boundaries. Feelings of anxiety, frustration, hurt, resentment and anger can develop.
So … Some Tips for Setting Boundaries
Identify your feelings. If you are feeling uncomfortable (emotionally, intellectually, physically or spiritually) about something that is happening , this could be a good indicator, that you need to set boundaries.
Ask yourself if it is your business, if it is not, then you have no right to set a boundary around it. Check in with yourself. Do you need to be involved?
Focus on yourself. Ask yourself ‘what do I want’ or ‘what don’t I want’? This is about setting the boundary for yourself. You cannot set boundaries for other people (NB Except under guardianship or minors)
Listening and communicating skills both play a big part in setting boundaries. Try to be clear when communicating and attentive when listening. Speak only for yourself and not for others. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
By setting boundaries, you let other people know, how you expect to be treated and what behaviours you will be accepting and not accepting.
Setting boundaries is challenging and takes a lot of courage. Setting boundaries helps you move from blaming others for how you feel, to taking responsibility for knowing, setting your limits and owning your feelings.
You will know your boundaries are in place when you feel comfortable asserting your rights appropriately and do so without hurting anyone else.
Healthy personal boundaries contribute to healthy safe relationships and will support your ability to rise to any Festive Season challenges.
Scheduled posts for - A Survival Guide for the Festive Season
Part 3 - Listening
Part 4 - Communication
Part 5 - Catching your Breath (Balancing Self)