Do you find yourself overcommitting to things because you can’t say no? Do you often disregard your needs to satisfy someone else’s and then feel frustrated at the end of the day?
What you need now is to learn how to set healthy personal boundaries. But before going into that, what are healthy boundaries, and why do you need them?
Healthy boundaries are boundaries you set to ensure your mental and emotional stability. Setting personal boundaries is a crucial life skill that helps build your identity. It often involves knowing when to say “no”, following your own rules and principles, and prioritising your own needs rather than succumbing to the desires of others at all times.
Healthy boundaries are crucial for all kinds of relationships, including those with friends, family, sexual partners, and coworkers.
On the other hand, unhealthy boundaries involve a partial or entire disregard for your desires, values, and limits. You no longer have your own identity because you constantly find yourself subscribing to other people’s desires, persuasions, and values of others.
Typically, unhealthy boundaries lead to stress. For example, you agree to help your friend with a task even when you have more important things to do, just because you can’t get yourself to refuse them. It could even be an activity that goes against your principles.
When you succumb, you’ll likely feel worn out and angry with yourself later. That’s no good for your mental health.
Unhealthy boundaries increase the chances of emotional abuse in relationships since your say no longer matters.
Note that setting boundaries does not preclude the flexibility to compromise when need be — for a greater good. It doesn’t mean you should always say “no.”
So, what’s the right way to set personal boundaries to avoid stress and ensure your peace of mind?
Don’t be afraid to tell someone what you aren’t comfortable with. Let them know that it intrudes into your personal space, beliefs, or values. If you don’t, chances are they will repeat the behaviour sooner than later.
Sometimes, unhealthy boundaries come from low self-esteem, believing that your desires don’t really matter. It would help if you realised that your needs matter just like the other person’s and they should also be met.
Do you feel stressed? Would you like to catch some well-deserved sleep? Then, don’t feel bad if you refused someone because of that.
If you give in to their demands, your mental health will probably suffer from your lack of sleep and self-care.
It may sound trivial compared to the person’s needs at that point, but self-care matters when it comes to your mental health.
It would help if you detached yourself from friends, coworkers, family members, and even thoughts that are negative. You know there’s negative energy when the environment, person, or thought makes you uncomfortable.
Negative energy perpetuates itself, giving rise to more negativity. Therefore, learning to deal with negative people is crucial for your mental health and happiness.
Say “no” when someone is clearly taking advantage of you. Perhaps you’ve once sacrificed your own needs for them, so they now make demands frequently, knowing you’d always be there. It’s time to say “no” and make them stop.
However, it’s best to find simple, polite ways to say it, such as “I’m at capacity right now.”
Instead of saying, “you have to stop bothering me,” you can say, “I really do need some time for myself now.” By keeping the focus on you, the person wouldn’t feel attacked.
Indeed, sometimes you may not know when and where to set boundaries. The key to setting healthy boundaries is knowing what you want, setting the boundaries based on those needs, and being clear with yourself and others about them.