Is ‘boundaries’ a dirty word? How to set boundaries and still feel good
Setting boundaries can be a confronting dilemma for a lot of people. Especially if you tend to worry more about what other people think of you and prioritise how they feel over your own thoughts and feelings.
‘Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end, and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for give me freedom.’ – Henry Cloud
We’ve all had a time when we said yes to something and wished we hadn’t. There have been times in our lives when we have let others dominate our activities or plans. It’s very common to allow our partner, children, family, and employers to usurp our own needs, wants, and expectations. It doesn’t always feel good and can lead to resentment and frustration.
Have you ever asked yourself, ‘don’t I matter too?’
It’s most likely you have. Sometimes you may feel co-dependent in a relationship, dominated by your boss, or even feel intimidated in new social settings. If you have these thoughts often, it may be a sign you are being too ‘nice’ (i.e., have no boundaries) and consider others too much.
If this is the case, gently putting limits around what you do, and don’t do, can help. It doesn’t make you an awful person. It won’t stop people from liking you. Your kids may have a tantrum or two as they’re not getting what they want all the time, but it’s healthy for you and everyone around you.
Is your self-esteem holding you back?
Have you noticed that the people you put aside your own wants and needs for tend to have great self-esteem? They quite often appear supremely confident in asking things of other people and have no hesitation in doing so. This is because their own needs are their top priority. They prioritise themselves over others and make sure that others see them as a high priority too. They genuinely value themselves and place great importance on the things that will enhance their daily lives. As a result, people are usually quick to defer to them and give them respect, whether it’s earned or not.
People with high self-esteem are incredibly gifted in setting solid boundaries and we can learn from them.
Things shift when you feel good about yourself, believe in your abilities, and know the value you bring to the world. Then, you are more likely to set healthy boundaries for yourself, and enjoy a better quality of life.
Why are boundaries important?
Doreen Virtue sums up why boundaries are essential very simply. She says,
‘Boundaries are part of self-care. They are healthy, normal, and necessary.’
There are genuine downsides to always putting others first without borders around what works for you and what doesn’t.
Boundaries are the cornerstone to all healthy relationships. Without them, relationships fail, often ending with feelings of resentment, disappointment, and even feelings of being violated. This leads to disconnection and being cut off from your true self and the people that care about you.
Lack of personal barriers can even result in stress, poor financial decisions (e.g., lending money you don’t have to people who will never pay it back), wasted time, and mental distress.
Having firm confines around you, your availability, values, time, and needs has many benefits. It can even be helpful to others who are trying to make decisions for themselves. Your boundaries ensure they know where they stand with you and what to expect. That makes it easier for everyone to communicate and feel safe.
While boundaries are essential, it’s equally important not to be selfish with them. If you’re setting them to simply get your way all the time – that’s not healthy. However, it is healthy to set boundaries that are respectful of you, while also considering the need to be flexible and think of others.
Most people aren’t trying to infringe your limits, and if they do, it may be because your boundaries aren’t clear.
- Better self-esteem
- Improved emotional energy
- Independence and self-ownership
- Provide us space to grow and to be vulnerable
Boundaries can also provide us with clues to activities or behaviours that aren’t helpful or healthy for us. By setting firm boundaries, improving your self-esteem, and giving your mind regular quiet space, you will create an environment where your intuition (gut feelings) can develop and strengthen.
Your intuition and emotions are always important to listen to – they point you in the right direction, particularly when you feel uncomfortable about something. When you become more confident in your personal boundaries, you will naturally begin to trust yourself, and your instincts.
How to set boundaries?
- Value yourself – start to like yourself and who you are. Know you are important and that you need to come first.
- Be assertive – Assertiveness is not being mean. It is being firm but kind. It’s like raising a child. You love your child more than life and would do anything to give them happiness, but you teach them, guide them, and say no to them. Because yes isn’t always appropriate or healthy.
Even though it may not come naturally, it’s ok and healthy to say no to things that will negatively impact you personally or that go against your values. Especially if it is an unreasonable request from the other person.
You don’t need to provide excuses or justifications for saying no. Simply say it and move on. Without guilt!
- Create space for yourself – We all need a safe place for ourselves in this world. For some, it’s sitting cross-legged underneath a favourite tree. For others, it’s the coffee shop down the road, time reading, a special nook in your house, your office, your bedroom, or a yoga class.
Whatever it is for you – it’s crucial you claim that space as yours and don’t allow it to be interrupted until you feel refreshed.
Regularly making dedicated time for yourself in your safe space is a valuable boundary to practice. You will feel empowered, refreshed, and energised by claiming some essential ‘you time’.
- Have consequences – This is probably the most uncomfortable part of boundary setting. But without consequences, are you or anyone else going to respect your boundaries? No. Suppose someone insists on encroaching your space and needs in a way uncomfortable for you. In that case, it may be time to implement consequences. For example, restricting their access to you until they learn you’re not at their beck and call is not being mean or awful – it’s self-care.
Boundaries are important for our mental health and well-being. They help protect us from negative energy and toxicity, both from others and ourselves.
We’ve talked about setting boundaries, so it’s time to start.
An easy way to start is by incorporating self-care into your daily routine.
This could mean reserving some time each day, just for you, to read, exercise, or meditate. Or it might mean using 100% natural essential perfume oils to help you relax and de-stress.
Clove Oil is touted as ‘The Oil of Boundaries’. It is said to help people clear negative energies, regain strength to stand up to others, and to reconnect with themselves.
Our popular Rest Perfume Oil has embraced the wonderfully healing properties of Clove Oil. It’s a silky fragrance, seductive with spicy clove, and a relaxing blend of lavender, clary sage, vetiver, and sandalwood. Rest Perfume Oil will help clear your mind, relax your soul, and gently allow you to set some new boundaries as you journey towards better well-being.
At Serene Body Health, our focus is self-care, healthy living, and mindfulness. We have created our entire range around this ethos, so we’re here to help you.
So, what will you do today to practice better self-care?