Nowadays, when you read about “self-care,” right up there with CBD and sound baths are good old-fashioned boundaries.
When drawn effectively, they’re like the ultimate Jedi mind trick, shielding you from violation and harm. Without appropriate boundaries, you risk burnout, resentment, and frustration — among other issues.
In this age of unprecedented self-expression, compounded by a stage of life where kids, parents, coworkers, clients, pets, and seemingly everyone in between needs our attention, it truly is all about setting limits.
Not to mention knowing what they are in the first place.
Typically when we think about boundaries, it’s about physical touch. But equally as important is holding space for your emotional and mental well-being.
Safeguarding your values, feelings, and beliefs is a powerful way to maintain your privacy, but according to psychology researcher Mariana Bockarova, it can lead to conflict when others step over your personal lines.
We think about boundaries as a self-oriented concept: This is my boundary. But it’s not just a matter of what you’re willing or not willing to say, it’s also what you’re willing to let in.
This is where things get tricky. Keep your boundaries too rigid for ironclad self-protection, and you’ll find yourself unable to open up enough to have meaningful, connected personal and professional relationships. Allow them to be too porous, and then you’re that oversharer that nobody trusts — and everyone walks all over.
Know your limits
It’s a delicate balance between comfortably sharing your thoughts, saying no in a firm but kind way, and tactfully dealing with disagreement over your boundaries. And it takes an equal mix of awareness and flexibility to set limits that work for you and the people in your life.
If you’re not quite sure of your own boundaries, start by paying attention to your feelings in a given situation. Discomfort, anger, guilt, resentment, and shame are all strong indicators that someone or something has gone too far, and it’s time to speak up.
And when it comes to being conscious of someone else’s personal boundaries, Bockarova recommends making gradual “bids of trust.” When you overstep, you’ll notice a lack of reciprocity.
Once you’ve got a handle on your limits, then it’s on you to not fly off the handle. When someone crosses your boundaries, clearly and calmly state what works from you — from your perspective.
And then be open to hearing the other person’s point of view, too. You might not like the push-back, but then again, agreeing to disagree is a fair boundary.