Boundaries. Chances are that somewhere you’ve heard this term before. Or maybe you’ve been told to “stand your ground” or “take your power back” by an encouraging friend. You may even be confused by the word. Fret not; this post will explain everything you need to know about boundaries, boundary violations, and how to reset when you’ve veered off track.
A boundary is the expectation of time, space, energy, and safety within a relationship. Your boundaries communicate your expectations, values, and self-worth to others. They also require you to make commitments and agreements about how your time, money, emotional bandwidth, and energy are utilized.
Here are a few ways to establish or re-establish healthy boundaries:
Consult your Inner Psychic
Your Inner Psychic is the only one who knows your feelings, expectations, and limits. They even know how difficult it is to communicate those big topics to other people. But here’s the thing, no one else in your life can read your mind.
Whether a boundary violation has occurred or you’re hoping to establish a new boundary, address it with your Inner Psychic as soon as possible. Which relationships crossed your boundary? What has this looked like in the past? Get clear on what was violated, how it made you feel, where it impacted your life, and what you’d like the situation to look like.
Once you clarify your limits, devise a plan to communicate your needs.
Communicate Your Needs
Figuring out what you need is some of the most important self-exploration you can do. Communicating what you find is uncomfortable and awkward, but you can do it. It is a short-term discomfort for long-term gain.
Try writing out your needs using an I Statement such as, “I need time to get ready for bed. I need to say goodbye by 8 PM so I have time to wind down.” Then, communicate this need twice: “I’m looking forward to dinner tonight! I want to communicate that I’ll need to say goodbye by 8 PM so I can wind down for bed.” And then, just before 7:30 PM, communicate again, “I’m just checking the time because I’ll be heading out at 8 to get ready for bed.”
The earlier into a relationship that you can state a boundary, the easier it is to implement. Still, even for established relationships like family or old friends, you can reevaluate your commitments at any time and for any reason. Let people know your needs as quickly as you formulate them.
Consistency is Key
Once you’ve established a boundary that needs to be communicated, remain consistent in your delivery. Stick to your limits. Suppose others can expect you to hold a boundary for yourself. In that case, they are more likely to respect your boundary moving forward.
Uphold Your Expectations
There may be natural consequences for boundary crossings and there may also be consequences you need to uphold when boundaries are crossed. Hold onto your boundaries, even if those around you can’t handle the fallout. Your time and energy are essential, as are the relationships and commitments you choose to invest in.
While boundaries are helpful communication tools, you can’t control what others do with your boundaries. They can give you a lot of information about a person. They can also give you a lot of information about your self-worth. If you cannot communicate your needs or are looking for more guidance addressing boundary violations, reach out to our trained mental health therapists for couples therapy. A qualified provider can provide insight into family patterns, ways to deliver new boundaries, and a space to process your interpersonal relationships.