Learning to set healthy personal boundaries is critical for maintaining healthy relationships, a positive self-image and reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Boundaries protect you by setting a clear line between you and others.
If you have weak boundaries you basically open the door for other people to determine your thoughts, feelings and needs. Setting boundaries is all about what behavior you will accept from others and what behaviour you will not accept.
Boundaries can be physical but also emotional. Physical boundaries are for instance your body, personal space and also your privacy. Your physical boundaries can be violated by others if they stand too close, touch you inappropriately or even if they look through your mobile phone. Emotional boundaries are about separating your feelings from someone else’s feelings. Your emotional boundaries can be violated by letting someone else’s feelings dictate your own or taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings. But also when others blame you for their problems, or when you accept responsibility for their problems.
Healthy boundaries protect your identity and self-esteem as an individual with the right to make your own choices.
Boundaries and Adrenal Fatigue
When you are not able to draw and maintain healthy and strong boundaries in your life – you are vulnerable to Adrenal Fatigue. All of the obvious causes of Adrenal Fatigue that you can read about almost anywhere include stress, poor diet, poor work-life balance, poor sleeping, a lack of control, lack of social support, stressful relationships, mismatch in values or doing a job you hate or don’t feel equipped to perform well at.
All of these are boundary issues; they arise because of an inability to draw a clear boundary, an inability to know when to say no, to know when to stop, and also not being able to ask for help, and not being able to make better choices.
Adrenal Fatigue affects anybody who tries to do too much but, more importantly, tries to do too much of the wrong thing. When you consistently force yourself into doing something (or some things) that are not good for you, and that do not make you happy you open yourself up to Adrenal Fatigue.
This could be staying in a job that you hate, or a relationship that isn’t good for you. But this could also be drinking and eating things that are not healthy for you but you do so in order to fit in, or to make other people happy.
When you do the wrong thing be it at home, at work or in a relationship, you create an ongoing tension between what you want to do and what you tell yourself to do. And that drains you of your energy…
Some Tips For Setting Healthy Personal Boundaries
Be aware that you have a right to personal boundaries. You not only have the right, but you also have to take responsibility for how you let others treat you.
Learn to say no. A lot of people are people-pleasers and often try to please everyone at their own expense. We don’t want to come over as selfish, so we move our own personal needs to the background and agree to do things that may not be beneficial to our well-being. Actually, a little “selfishness” is necessary for having healthy boundaries. You are not doing anyone a favor, least of all yourself, by trying to please others at your own expense.
Identify actions and behaviors that you find unacceptable. Tell others when they’ve crossed the line, disrespected you or acted inappropriately. Don’t fear telling others when you need physical and emotional space. Let yourself be who you really are without pressure from others to be someone else.
Trust and believe in yourself. You know yourself best. You know what you want, need, and value. So you shouldn’t let anyone else make the decisions for you.
Signs You Have To Work On Your Boundaries
- You say yes to things you’d rather not do, just to avoid upsetting or disappointing others.
- You feel resentful because you are doing more for others than they are doing for you. (Or you find yourself resentful of people asking too much of you).
- You are afraid of letting people get too close and overwhelm you.
- You feel that most of what you do is for other people (they may not even appreciate it!)
- You find yourself putting others’ needs first ahead of yourself.
Developing Healthy Boundaries
The following questions can help you to find your boundaries in specific situations, and help with future ones:
- If nobody would be disappointed, would I prefer to say yes or no?
- Looking at all the benefits and costs in this situation (both tangible and intangible), is it worth the effort to say yes?
- Would you feel comfortable asking the same request to someone else?
- If people would be upset with you if you said no, do you truly feel that they are coming from a respectful, reasonable place? (If not, might it be time to start setting some limits?)
- Is this a precedent you want to set? (If not, where would be a reasonable place to draw the line?)
- Think of someone you feel has very healthy boundaries. How do you think they would respond in this situation?
Realizing that you need to set up boundaries is only the first step of your journey. The next part is actually developing and communicating those boundaries, and that can be difficult. If you are changing the dynamic in a relationship you have with someone else you will probably feel resistance from the other person. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Just stick to your position and continue to communicate your needs. One very effective technique is the ”broken record technique” where you simply repeat the same statement (as if you were a broken record) as many times as you need.
Remember that you are free to be who you are and good boundaries are a sign of emotional health, self-respect and strength. You teach people how to treat you. So set high standards for the people you surround yourself with so that they respect you, care about your needs, your feelings and treat you with kindness.
“Saying NO means saying YES to yourself”