Building Healthy Boundaries
Updated: Feb 25, 2020
Do you often find yourself saying "yes" and then regretting it later? Do you blame others for asking too much of you and not being considerate of your needs? If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, you may avoid checking in with what you need first before saying "yes" and find it difficult to set your own limits as well as respect other people's limits. Oftentimes people find it challenging to maintain healthy boundaries because deep down they feel worthless, fear a loss of connection, love or support. This lack of security can make you feel like you have to put everyone's needs before yours which contributes to you feeling emotionally drained and resentful. In addition, you may be aware that you "vent" a lot or at inappropriate times which can be overwhelming to people. Here are some tips for building healthy boundaries:
1. Check in with yourself first before saying "yes" to requests or commitments. Say, "I need to think about it," and really take time to notice if you even want to do what is being asked. The key here is to honor yourself exactly how you feel without judgement. The more you can practice honoring and respecting how you feel first, the more secure you will feel to answer others from that place. By doing this, you give others permission to check in with themselves first too and cultivate space for honest, authentic relationships.
2. Build your support system. If your support system is small, test the waters with different people with whom you feel safe to share vulnerable information. Seek support when you need it and accept that no one person is going to be able to support you all the time.
3. Ask permission to vent and if the other person has the capacity to hear it. I think sometimes, we - myself included, get in the habit of venting to our loved ones without considering whether they want to or can hold that space for us. My poor mother! If we can get in the habit of asking permission to share and be open to the fact that the other person may not be in the mood, we practice being mindful of other's limits and model for them how to respect our limits in return.
4. Stop fixing things that aren't yours to fix. When you give "help" that isn't requested, you cross an invisible boundary that takes away the opportunity to let others go through their own sacred learning process. Help others help themselves by asking questions to help them explore solutions to their challenges - do not fix their problems for them. "Fixing" other peoples' problems with your solutions does not sustain true change.
Building healthy boundaries takes time and can feel awkward at first especially if you aren't familiar with considering your needs first or being mindful about other peoples' capacity to hear you. Be gentle with yourself and celebrate internally each time you are able to successfully set a limit. This self-validates your progress and reinforces the new habits/behaviors your are practicing. You got this!