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Does ‘Healthy Boundaries’ Sound a bit unfamiliar? Boundaries Help Us to Maintain Healthy Relationships & Improve Self-Esteem

Explore Setting Healthy Boundaries with a Psychologist

What are boundaries?

Boundaries may be conceptualized differently by individuals, however essentially speaking to the concept of implementing a form of ‘limit’ between or around individuals. This may be seen as a line in the sand, an invisible wall, a spoken rule or scaffolding we may place around ourselves in certain situations or relationships. The ultimate purpose of boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. This is achieved by identifying our needs and values and establishing limits around them to ensure they are not compromised, ignored, or violated. An integral part of setting boundaries is having confidence in yourself and acknowledging your worth, which can in turn be improved by the establishment of healthy boundaries.

Are there different types of boundaries?

There are different types of boundaries, which can be implemented silently or overtly. A silent boundary may look like rules around specific settings. Rules that allow you to socialise with a certain person. i.e only in a group, or only in public, or ensuring you leave work on time every day. They are rules that don’t necessarily need to be communicated out loud either due to difficulties within relationships, rather silent boundaries that you maintain for yourself. Overtly communicating your boundaries would involve articulating them out loud (or in writing) to another person or parties involved. Such as communicating; ‘I am happy to spend time together, however not every day.’

Types of boundaries:

1. Physical Boundaries – Who is allowed in your space, who can touch you and how, and who can use your things. “Could you please not sit so close to me’’, or “I don’t let anyone borrow this particular item.’’

2. Emotional Boundaries – Your capacity around the amount of emotional support you can provide to someone or not engaging in certain conversations that may be triggering for you. “I can see you’re hurting but I’ve also had a bad day and am unable to support you in that way, can we chat tomorrow or is there anything else I can do for you right now?” or “You seem like you need to talk about this, however, it’s a topic I am not comfortable engaging in, is there anyone else you can speak to?”

3. Mental Boundaries – Allowing yourself to have different opinions, beliefs, and thoughts from other people and being okay with not agreeing with everyone. “It’s okay if you don’t agree with me, this is still my opinion” or “It seems like we have different perspectives on this, and I may not agree with your perspective but I do respect it.”

4. Time Boundaries – How much time you choose to spend with others, or somewhere, or on something. “I can only stay for an hour.” Or “Please let me know if you’re running late” or “I can’t do this right now as I have something else on, but am happy to reschedule or offer support in a different way.”

5. Communication Boundaries – How someone is allowed to speak to you is a communication boundary, what can and cannot be said to you, how you speak to yourself and how you speak to others. “Please don’t speak to me in that tone”, “I don’t want anyone commenting on my appearance”, “I apologise for speaking to you in that way.”

6. Financial Boundaries – How much money you choose to spend on presents, loan to anyone, or agree to split within a relationship or friendship (rent, bills, take out). This may look like rules around how many times you eat out during the week, agreements of splitting bills, or electing to take some time to think about lending money to someone who asks.

How to set healthy boundaries:

Some steps to consider when setting boundaries involves:

  • Defining
  • Communicating
  • Simplicity
  • Consequences

This means identifying your needs and desired boundary, saying what you need (to someone or yourself), not over-explaining or over-justifying the boundary and setting consequences for if that boundary is not respected (‘’I’m not engaging in this conversation anymore’’).

Struggling with boundaries?

A reminder when exploring boundaries – ensure you are not saying yes, when you are thinking no. Often someone who struggles to implement or maintain boundaries may have not experienced having their space or boundaries respected from a young age. In addition, the individual may not have experienced healthy boundaries role-modelled to them at a younger age. This may lead to a lack of confidence, or a fear that communicating their own needs may result in abandonment or conflict. In adulthood it could also indicate a tendency to prioritise others over ourselves or feel as though our needs are not valid.

Importance of boundaries?

Boundaries play an important role in establishing one’s identity and maintaining self care. In setting expectations for ourselves and for other people to be held accountable we are supported in acknowledging, honouring and respecting our emotional, psychological and physical needs. ‘Boundaries protect the things that are of value to you’ and this whilst this may differ from person to person, it is always important.

How can Positive Wellbeing Psychology help?

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, our psychologists have a special interest in supporting clients to set up healthy boundaries to restore balance and improve interpersonal relationship and life balance. Understand that maintaining professional boundaries is crucial in any workplace setting. Work role boundaries define the scope of our responsibilities and tasks within our jobs. Similarly, in personal connections, boundaries in relationships play a pivotal role, ensuring mutual respect and understanding. Healthy relationship boundaries are essential for nurturing strong and respectful connections, emphasising the importance of clear limits and expectations. Setting and respecting boundaries in a relationship is fundamental for building trust and ensuring a healthy emotional balance. Reach out to discuss healthy boundaries with a highly skilled psychologist today.

Written by Psychologist Angella Katheklakis at Positive Wellbeing Psychology

Angella is a warm and personable psychologist and is passionate about genuinely connecting with her clients, to support the therapeutic process and progress.

Angella has a special interest in supporting individuals with complex trauma, childhood trauma, navigating difficult family dynamics, anxiety, adjustments in life, mood disorders, alcohol and substance misuse, self-harm, and borderline personality disorder. Apart from Angella’s interest in trauma, anxiety and mood disorders, Angella has acquired a special interest in Adult ADHD and supporting individuals to identify previously undiagnosed symptoms and pursuing a formal diagnosis and treatment to better functioning in everyday life.

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