Have you ever heard the story about the man who was building his house but spent all of his materials on his neighbors? His neighbors would come to him, asking him for bricks to help build their home, and he gladly gave them to whoever requested trying to help. But when he turned around, he noticed that he had given all of his bricks away which left him unable to finish his house. This man being more worried about others than himself ends up sacrificing something he was working so hard for. This man had no boundaries.
Setting healthy boundaries comes easy for some, but for others, it can be difficult. Setting boundaries is something that takes courage and self-respect, something that can be swindled by poor mental health and unhealthy environments.
Some people are so consumed with how their actions affect others they may disregard how having no boundaries affect them. If you feel that you are being a people pleaser, doormat, or pushover and it is affecting your mental state, you may need to reevaluate how you allow people to treat you.
Why Healthy Boundaries Are So Important
Boundaries reflect how you view yourself and what you value. Having healthy boundaries show how much you love yourself and how much self-respect you have. With healthy boundaries, you have healthier relationships, a healthier mental and physical health, and a healthy family.
When you have healthy boundaries, you are less likely to overwork yourself at home or at your job. You’re less likely to spend the money you don’t have and more likely to achieve goals that you have set for yourself. Setting healthy boundaries is key to self-care, and without them, you can find yourself bending over backward for everyone but yourself.
What Do Healthy Boundaries Look Like?
Time To Yourself
Are you around people the majority of the day? At home, you’re surrounded by family, which of course you love, and at work, you are constantly being bombarded by colleagues or your boss. Human interaction is important and something that we need, however, you need time to yourself as well.
Some people need to have their alone time whether it is taking a long hot bath or curling up in bed with a good book. When you’re giving yourself “Me Time,” you can relax freely and enjoy your own presence. Having alone time may also be able to boost your focus and concentration because it helps your brain restart and unwind.
Being alone can give you a chance to get to know yourself. Figure out your dreams and desires. This can also help make your relationships healthier because you understand what you expect from the company keep because you know what you need in a friend or spouse.
Keeping Things To Yourself
This doesn’t mean that you never tell anyone anything about you ever. But knowing what time and place is appropriate for what information is a strength that can help you in your profession. Teachers keeping their private lives from their students or employees keeping work talk just about work are people who keep their professional and private lives separate. This sets a clear idea that when you are in a certain position at work, the only thing that you need to talk about or disclose are things about work.
Sometimes it is okay to mix your personal life with your job, but in many cases, it can blur the lines. It can make you appear less professional when you let the two mix, even costing you a shot at a promotion or excelling in your workplace. When your clients, customers, colleagues, and bosses know that you are all business, it can build a respect for you and make it apparent how much you respect yourself.
Putting Your Goals First
If you have a deadline on a project and someone really wants to go out for drinks because they haven’t seen you in weeks, saying no is setting a boundary saying that what you need to accomplish is important to you. If someone interrupts you while you are working and you let it slide, this indicates that what you are doing doesn’t need your full attention and it is likely that they will do it again.
Putting yourself first in these situations can relieve stress because you aren’t trying to balance other’s needs along with your own. Yes, of course you want to spend time with your friend or help a colleague in need, but what you are doing is important as well.
It may seem impossible, especially if the person trying to get your attention or help is family, but you need to know when it is appropriate to put your foot down. Explain to them that you have things you need to do and you can help them once you are finished. Respect yourself enough to not procrastinate your tasks for the sake of helping others if in the long run, it is going to cause more strain on you.
Sharing The Load
If you know that you are at your limits with whatever you are doing whether it is at home or work, ask for help. Of course, when doing so respect the boundaries that others have in order for them to maintain their mental health as you would hope they would do for you.
Asking to share responsibilities when you are feeling overwhelmed is a great way to practice self-care. If you feel like your spouse isn’t doing their fair share around the house, have a conversation explaining how you feel that you are taking on more than you feel comfortable with. If your coworkers aren’t picking up their own slack in the workplace, have a serious conversation about how it is affecting you and your job performance. Sharing responsibilities helps prevent you from becoming overworked and overwhelmed.
Disallowing Negative Talk
We are at a weird time right now as a society. The slightest discomfort from a comment or action can make you appear too sensitive, comparing you to crystalized water. But if something makes you uncomfortable, like inappropriate comments or jokes at your expense, shut it down. These small jabs can take their toll over time and start to become overbearing. You don’t deserve to be spoken to like that. Why should you sit uncomfortably? What do you owe them to keep your mouth shut?
This can be hard for many people because they grew up in a home where this was normal behavior or in an unhealthy environment that caused them to develop a low self-esteem. Maybe their parents or siblings always reminded them how they were never good enough, leading them into adult life to believe that it’s true. Which means that being the butt of a joke is expected. You don’t have to let that haunt you anymore. You deserve respect and others may follow suit if you start respecting yourself.
How Do You Set Healthy Boundaries?
This is a simple process that can feel almost impossible to do for some people. In some cases, mental health can get in the way of setting boundaries. Being a people pleaser and having the inability to say no or stand up for yourself can come too natural because of either an imbalance in brain chemistry, like with ADHD, or from having low self-esteem and valuing others above yourself. But even if it feels like it is impossible, it can still be done.
Take a moment and look at your life, what has you overwhelmed? Are there things that you constantly think about that drive you to a poor mental state? Is it the way people talk to you? Is it the workload you have? Is it always doing things for others but never doing anything for yourself?
Start to set boundaries in this area. If you feel like you are overworked, limit yourself. If you don’t like the way people talk to you, start to compile a list of things people can no longer say to you. Once you set your boundaries, the hard part comes in. Staying consistent.
When you are consistent, it lets people know that you mean business. Not everyone is out to get you or make your life miserable, but when you are consistent people will realize what they can and can’t get away with. If you give them an inch, they may take a mile, so keep your boundaries stable. If you find that you need to compromise, try to find a way that you can be flexible and still hold onto your self-respect.
Learn To Love Yourself
It will be pretty hard to set boundaries when you don’t love yourself. So this is something that you need to learn. There are ways you can fall in love with yourself like writing down things you like about yourself, giving yourself compliments, and practicing positive self-talk. A healthy self-esteem doesn’t happen overnight, so be diligent and remind yourself that you are worth it.
What are some boundaries that you have placed that have made your life better? We would love to hear your example in the comment section below!