Discovering Your Boundaries
Author: Dr. Julie. Sorenson, DMFT, MA, LPC
Types of Boundaries
In relationships, it is vital to have boundaries and know how to communicate those boundaries with the people that you are close with. You may have rigid, porous, and healthy boundaries dependent on your relationship with the people and a mix of boundaries is also okay. Healthy boundaries are usually set around your values or beliefs.
Examples of Rigid Boundaries
- Avoids being intimate or having close relationships.
- Has a difficult time asking for help.
- Has few close relationships.
- Protective of personal information and who to share it with.
- May seem detached, in friendships and with romantic partners.
- Keeps others at a distance to avoid the rejection.
Examples of Porous Boundaries
- Overshares personal information with anyone or everyone.
- Has a difficult time saying “no” to the requests of others.
- Overinvolved with others’ problems.
- Depends highly on the opinions of others.
- Accepting of abuse or disrespect from other people, including family.
- Fears rejection if they do not comply with others.
Examples of Healthy Boundaries
- Values their own opinions.
- Doesn’t compromise values.
- Shares personal information in an appropriate way (does not over or under share).
- Knows personal wants and needs, and how to communicate them.
- Accepting when others say “no” to them.
Communicating Your Boundaries
It is important for your well-being to learn to communicate your boundaries and let someone know when they have crossed your boundaries. It could lead to emotional manipulations if you don’t have boundaries or haven’t communicated them. Unhealthy or lack of boundaries could make you feel emotionally raw or exhausted. It is important for you to be able to identify your boundaries. Upon identifying your boundaries ensuring that you know when to say “no”. It is okay to say “no” and it is okay to communicate with someone if you don’t have the time or don’t want to make the time for something. As with everything there are times in which that you may want to compromise, but the good thing is that you get to decide what is best for you.
Another key point is knowing when to take the blame for something and when the blame is not your fault. You can refuse to take blame for anything that you didn’t do, but don’t let someone make you feel guilty for something that you believe is not your fault. You can empathize with the other person and let them know that you are sorry that they are hurt, and you are there for them without taking the blame, if whatever they are blaming you for is not yours to take. In saying that though, remembering the importance of taking ownership of your actions when you are at fault.
Respect Yourself Enough to Communicate Your Boundaries
When thinking about your boundaries, it is essential to expect respect. Remember if you give respect, you deserve respect. If the other person doesn’t agree with you, it’s okay to disagree but never let the other person disrespect you or make you feel less than.
Another key factor when thinking about boundaries is knowing how to communicate your needs and wants with in your relationship. No one has a crystal ball and people are not able to read your mind. It is up to you to communicate what it is that you need. If whomever you are communicating with doesn’t understand, then it is up to you to let them know that isn’t what you mean, but you mean this instead.
Remember when setting your boundaries and enforcing them that it is okay to ask for help. It is also okay to ask for space while you try to process through things. You deserve to be able to ask for help and space. It is crucial for your own mental health to stand by your boundaries and feel comfortable with the outcomes.
Self-Reflection when Establishing Boundaries
Allow yourself time for self-reflection. You may or may not know what your boundaries are but establishing them means you possibly need to unlearn unhealthy habits. It is also important to avoid reactions of anger when you are setting your boundaries. You know you best, stand up for yourself, allow yourself opportunities to be vulnerable. Remember if you make a mistake it is an opportunity for growth.
Reach Out For Help
If you are having difficulties setting your boundaries or determining what you want your boundaries to be you can always reach out to a local mental health care provider. We are here to help you find your own personal journey. You don’t have to struggle with boundary work alone.