Healthy boundaries are directly connected to your well-being and mental health. Boundaries are of many types – physical, emotional, sexual, and so on. They could be flexible or strict, depending on your equation with the people and situations around you.
Healthy boundaries are those that are neither too rigid nor too loose and require work on your part to make sure they are not violated.
Often, when we’re upset with others, it is because their actions have inadvertently crossed our boundaries. In such situations, we direct the blame outward, on the other person for not respecting our limits.
While we should take care not to disregard a person’s comfort zone, we should also remember that protecting and maintaining our boundaries is not another person’s job.
Think about international boundaries: countries don’t simply draw lines on the ground and expect the rest of the world to respect them. Border guards are specifically appointed to stop those who try to enter a country without permission.
Similarly, your personal boundaries are your priority. It is up to you to set them and protect them against violation.
7 Ways To Maintain Healthy Boundaries
Here are 7 ways to maintain healthy boundaries for more meaningful and successful relationships as well as your overall peace:
1. Learn About Your Values and Limits
First, take some time out for introspection. Self-analysis can help you can discover what you need to know about your values and beliefs. Once you know what’s important to you, you will be able to communicate the same to others in a better way.
While you’re on this journey of self-discovery, do take time to learn about your limits and how you feel when these limits are crossed. This will make it easier for you to set healthy boundaries to preserve your mental health.
Setting boundaries only works when you communicate them to people around you. Unless you tell others that their actions are unacceptable, they won’t realize that they need to change their behavior.
Speak up when you feel that their efforts are making you feel frustrated, unappreciated, or inferior. It is perfectly acceptable to avoid things that violate the boundaries you have set for yourself.
3. Be Firm and Assertive
Sometimes, you may find yourself trapped in an uncomfortable situation despite letting the other person know how you feel. People may not take your boundaries seriously because your limits are not their priority. Don’t let others talk you into or out of things without considering your feelings. Stating your boundaries firmly and clearly may seem daunting because it is easier and less stressful to avoid confrontation.
However, you must respect and value your boundaries by being kind yet assertive. People may not be happy about this, but they should respect your decision.
Sometimes, we forget that it is okay to refuse others when we don’t want to do something. Instead, we keep saying yes to more and more things, without realizing that we will ultimately end up with hardly any time or energy for ourselves. The next time you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t align with your boundaries, practice saying no.
Do what’s best for you in that scenario; how the other person reacts is not your prerogative. They will find a way to be okay with your choice if they genuinely love and respect you.
5. Don’t Set Boundaries Without Consequences
When you set boundaries for yourself, in whichever aspect of your life, do remember to decide how you would handle a situation where someone pushed your boundaries. Then, if your boundaries are crossed, make sure to follow through on the consequences you have promised.
By doing so, you will honor your needs and communicate to others that they need to be mindful of your limits in the future. But you should only set those rules which you are prepared to enforce. If you don’t offer any consequences when your boundaries are tested, it will encourage others to ignore them more easily in the future.
A healthy way to preserve your boundaries is by dedicating time for self-care. Set aside some time for yourself to indulge in activities that make you happy and keep you balanced.
Even though it’s something that is largely perceived as selfish, caring for yourself is actually crucial to living healthy. So make sure to schedule fun things for yourself, and stick to these appointments resolutely. Other commitments can be planned around these things.
7. Know That It’s Okay to Walk Away
If you have been more than explicit about your boundary, and the other person (friend, family member, or a colleague) still refuses to respect it, you must show yourself some kindness and walk away. Engaging with them when they respond to your boundaries with backlash or arguments will only cause you more stress.
The best way to avoid harming your mental health is by ignoring correspondence from or avoiding communication with toxic people. You don’t owe them anything if their actions are making you uncomfortable.
Healthy boundaries are necessary to live a mentally and emotionally stable life. Even if you’re new to this habit of maintaining boundaries, know that it’ll get more comfortable with a little more courage and practice.
So, keep at it, learn to stand up for yourself, and the world will learn to treat you with the respect you know you deserve.