Boundaries are an important component of all relationships and a topic that is not often thought about on a regular basis. Establishing boundaries in romantic relationships, friendships, in the workplace with co-workers, and while parenting children is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Boundaries aid in creating general personal safety and protection. However, setting and maintaining boundaries requires both effort and practice. While it may take time and a strong commitment to oneself to set boundaries, overall, they will be beneficial in the long run. Boundaries contribute to living a balanced and healthy life in all areas as we interact with people on a daily basis.

There are several important points to keep in mind when establishing boundaries. The first step in setting boundaries is understanding one’s own limits. Limits may vary with different people depending on the relationship dynamic. They may also change with time as the person changes and life circumstances evolve. When thinking about boundaries it is crucial to understand one’s own limits and feelings around certain issues because without a clear understanding of one’s own limits boundaries are difficult to set. In order to begin establishing boundaries, it may be useful to think about what your personal needs and wants are in the relationship. This may entail forming a list of non-negotiable circumstances or actions to enforce. Establishing boundaries allows for people not to be taken advantage of or left feeling emotionally unbalanced or unsafe in relationships.

One wants to make sure that the boundaries are communicated clearly through the use of effective and compassionate communication. Through proper communication, the boundaries set are unmistakably known and understood, which allows for others to fully respect them. Once boundaries are established and imparted on others it is important to stay consistent with enforcing them. Consistency is the key to maintaining boundaries. It is important to remember to start small when setting boundaries and to be aware of what is realistic, reasonable, and sustainable. Starting small can help in practicing the process of setting boundaries and maintaining those boundaries, especially if boundaries have never been previously established.

Finally, always circle back to the fact that boundaries look different for each relationship. Additionally, boundaries can apply to different areas such as a material boundaries, physical boundaries, mental boundaries, emotional boundaries, sexual boundaries, or spiritual boundaries. Some areas may need more boundaries set in place than others. Always remember your rights and what you personally feel comfortable with in different areas of your life where boundaries are appropriate. It’s never too late to put a boundary in place.

Catherine Jarrel

Mental Health Intern

Hope and Healing Center & Institute

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