Everyone has a limit for how much they are willing to give to others and what kind of treatment they accept from other people. These limits are commonly referred to as boundaries. Finding your own boundaries and setting them with the people in your life is an important part of self-advocacy and self-care. When you don't create boundaries, you may experience resentment. Determining and setting boundaries consists of the following:
Ask yourself why you do or don’t have boundaries: Many people have weak or non-existent boundaries due to guilt, a sense of obligation, or a fear of not being liked. Having boundaries does not mean that you are a selfish person. Good boundaries come from our values and self-respect.
Communicate your boundaries clearly: It’s difficult to enforce boundaries if other people are not aware of what your boundaries are. Be clear and concise when communicating boundaries. You don’t have to offer an explanation, but you can, if that makes boundary-setting easier. An example of a clearly communicated boundary is, “Please don’t call me after 10:00 pm. That’s when I start getting ready for bed, and I need my sleep.”
Remember self-respect: Many people experience guilt after they set a boundary. One way to deal with guilt is to remember the importance of self-respect. Communicating self-respect is an important part of any relationship, and anyone who cares about you will respect you in return.
Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.
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