Setting boundaries as an action of respect for self and others
Today I will discuss one of my favorite subjects and share some personal insights from this long term project of learning how to set boundaries. Every time I see my personal boundaries anew I learn something different about me while understanding deeper the importance of having boundaries in a way that provides the proper conditions to thrive.
Setting boundaries means to know where to stop, where to continue, where and how to allow or not allow at all, where to say yes and where to say no according to your current condition (physical, mental and emotional) in connection with your life purpose.
The action of setting boundaries has been misunderstood or misinterpreted many times as a selfish action, but since when putting the self as the first priority has been indicating an egoistic attitude? Since when have we been seeing self-respect and self-love as a form of selfishness or avoidance towards others?
Setting and respecting personal boundaries helps us create the environment we need in order to be ourselves without the need to please other people. It is an action of self-love, respect and understanding towards ourselves, our needs, the time and space we have available or not, the energy we want to preserve or we are able to give, the quality of life we want to have, our emotions and how we want to express and integrate them, and finally our current experience that is extremely important to be aware of and honor it as much as we can, because it is connecting us with the present moment.
Setting boundaries helps us create healthy relationships because it allows ourselves and others to stay within their energetic boundaries and share only from a place of integrity and wholeness. It allows us to know when and how to give or receive and in which extend with each person we have in our lives. On the other hand setting a different kind of boundaries with strangers or people who have no boundaries at all helps us increase our capacity of recognizing our emotions and honoring them based on how they change or fluctuate.
It is important to understand that our limits vary according to each situation, the environment, relationship and condition we are in or share with others. We need to be present and aware of how our needs change and therefore be able to provide to ourselves what way may need. And boundaries are an extremely important aspect in order to feel balanced in our everyday life because it creates the proper condition that we need and it preserves that as we adjust our boundaries accordingly.
People who have a strong sense of their boundaries and they honor their boundaries have increased self-esteem and self-confidence, they are more honest and authentic, and most probably can easily reduce stress, anxiety and even depression just because they are able to create the proper conditions that will support their needs, and therefore will assist them in a personal journey that promotes wellbeing.
By creating, recognizing and honoring our boundaries we are communicating or choosing what resonates and what does not resonate with us. A lack of boundaries may allow others to determine our thoughts, emotions, feelings and needs. Defining and recognizing our boundaries is a process of determining what behavior you will accept from others and what behavior you will reject or avoid.
Knowing our boundaries and honoring them at all times can truly allow us to create a safe space where we can grow and strengthen internally and externally till we don’t need those boundaries anymore. But before we reach that point we definitely need to give permission to ourselves to create boundaries and respect them as much as we can.
Boundaries can be different from time to time according to our needs and the people we share our experiences or everyday life with. They can increase or intensify or they can loosen and soften at different periods of time as we navigate through our life lessons, evolution and awakening.
There are different kinds of boundaries:
- Physical boundaries include our body, personal space and privacy. Violation of physical boundaries means standing too close, apply inappropriate touching, looking into someone’s personal objects, notes or phone. Respecting our physical boundaries means that we are able to communicate verbally of what we want or what we don’t want, saying no when possible and expressing or showing clearly when we do not want someone else to enter or occupy in any means our personal and physical space. It is also about creating the right physical conditions for ourselves in relation to others or even avoid the presence of others who do not respect our boundaries.
- Emotional and Mental boundaries involve separating our feelings and thoughts from someone else’s feelings and thoughts. Violations of emotional and mental boundaries is about taking responsibility for another’s feelings or thoughts, letting another’s feelings or thoughts dictate our own or sacrificing our own needs in order to please somebody else. Violation of emotional and mental boundaries also means blaming others for our problems or accepting responsibility for theirs. Respecting our emotional and mental boundaries means to understand and embrace our own feelings, thoughts and emotions first, even if someone else has their own against us. Is also means to create and preserve a healthy relationship with ourself and others, and to protect our self-esteem and identity as individuals with the right to make our own choices based on our thoughts and emotions and not based on the thoughts and emotions of others that might be imposed to us.
- Energetic boundaries are about energy and the energy space that we hold and own. Again is about separating our energy with the energy of another in an intention not to be separated as such, but to be able to be aware of the more subtle aspects of our being. In this way we understand if our energy is affected by someone else’s energy and when something that we might feel is actually coming from the energy of another person in our surrounding. Violation of energetic boundaries means to invasively enter one’s energy space non intentionally but also intentionally. This usually happens from people who make abuse of their intuitive powers in order to draw information about the other person for personal reasons and not from good will or from an intention that would benefit both. Respecting energetic or spiritual boundaries means to firstly understand our energy and the energy of others, secondly to know the resonance we might have or not have between one another, and lastly to allow protection for that energy while asking always permission from others whether or not we can enter their energetic space, which should only take place with true awareness, respect, love, no judgement and unconditionality.
We can say that boundaries are an invisible field surrounding ourself and we are in charge of protecting it in several ways, although many of us have a difficult time setting healthy boundaries consistently. We need to learn how to identify when our boundaries are being crossed and we need to recognize whether if we fear the consequences to our relationships if we set them active.
To identify when our boundaries are being crossed, we need to stay connected with our feelings and emotions. If we feel discomfort, resentment, stress, anxiety, anger, guilt, fear or sadness it might be possible that our boundaries have been crossed. The above feelings and emotions might stem from feeling that we have been taken advantage of or not feeling appreciated.
Unhealthy boundaries are often characterized by a weak sense of our own personal identity or sense of self. Feelings of disempowerment in decision making and feelings of loneliness or disconnection from the world might have resulted from not being able to set the right boundaries for one’s self.
Our inability to set boundaries also stems from the fear of abandonment or fear of losing the relationship, fear of being judged or fear of hurting others’ feelings, but these kinds of fears keeps us inside a repetitive pattern of broken boundaries that will only generate pain and unhappiness. As I have mentioned above, setting boundaries for a specific situation or for a specific period of time is crucial in order to rebalance the self before one is ready again to reset to even let go of these boundaries.
Applying boundaries must take place early in our lives, first in our family setting, then in our shooting environment and then in our peer groups. Early boundaries are internalized as a way of asserting our own needs and wants, as well as, in taking responsibility for others needs and wants, or not. Boundaries teach us to be comfortable standing up for ourselves, verbalizing our feelings and expressing our needs or truths.
In order to build healthy boundaries we need to understand our own limits. We need to understand who we are and what we are responsible for, or not. It is important to fully understand that we are responsible for our own life, happiness, behavior, choices, feelings, emotions but not for the happiness, behaviors, choices and feelings of others.
These are 8 ways of setting healthy boundaries:
1. Be clear on your priorities:
Being clear on your priorities on a daily basis is essential as it will guide you on what you’re actually willing to spend your time and energy on. This is important especially for people who are extremely giving or even pleasing to others. If you are aware that you always put other people’s priorities above your own, or if you find yourself often pleasing others then this is for you.
2. Communicate what you will and will not accept or tolerate
If you allowed other people in the past to say to do things to you that hurt or frustrate you then you need to reconsider what you will no longer allow in the future. Speaking or standing up when people are behaving in a way that makes you feel unappreciated or when something doesn’t feel right to you, is essential in order to honor your boundaries and therefore break this pattern.
3. Listen to your emotions
Listening to your emotions is extremely important as they are messengers of the expression of your truth. They can show you clearly where your boundaries are and warn you for what is coming. Emotions are the language of the soul, often revealed in our reality through physical sensations, ailments or dis-ease. Therefore use your emotions to help you make decisions regarding your boundaries. The mind might tell you to say yes in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings but your emotion might tell you no.
4. Understand the impact of your choices and actions
Knowing how a decision you might make impact yourself and others will help you say no or yes much easier. Sometimes we think that our actions might instantly hurt someone’s feelings but if we rethink about that we will understand that pleasing others while causing disadvantage to ourselves is not the solution. In addition to this, it is important for the other person to know our limits and boundaries that denote our truth and therefore are indicating out authentic nature.
5. Do things only because they make you feel happy
If you find yourself making others happy you most probably feel unbalanced in several ways. You need to reconsider bringing happiness and joy into your life by turning your focus to yourself instead. Self-care isn’t selfish but it’s necessary. The boundary that can be formed here is to create a schedule that includes activities that are focusing on you and will support you in this and treat them like important meetings with a client that you would never miss out. Schedule them as priorities and place everything else around these but don’t cancel them.
6. Don’t hesitate to say No
If someone asks you to do something and you don’t want to then simply say no. You need to know that you have the right to say no even if you are responding to your most beloved person in this world. Remember that if this person truly loves you they will honor your choice and they will be happy to support you. Being authentic and choosing to speak and communicate your truth is the foundation to create healthy and true relationships. On the other hand, if you need to say no to the relationship itself in order to free yourself from a toxic behavior then you have the right to do so. Being unapologetically you is a responsibility towards yourself.
7. Be direct and firm with your answer
After you made a choice people will try to change your mind. Try not to let them talk you out of your decision. You can always respond with respect but you don’t have to explain your decision. You can still be kind yet firm at the same time. Your friends or family might prefer a different response from you, but they should be able to respect your decision if this is what you want or if this makes you happy.
8. Claim what you own
Boundaries are very much connected with our personal stories, experiences and internal space. Sometimes we tend to share to much or express to the wrong people. It is important to create boundaries to ourselves by knowing who are our true friends and who are not, how much we can open up or keep things secret. If we share something personal to someone that we thought they were our friends only to be judged and betrayed after it leaves us empty and resentful. Therefore is important after such experience to learn discernment and therefore know if we can trust someone or not. Remember that you have the right not to answer someone’s question or you can avoid sharing anything about you when you don’t feel safe or comfortable. By choosing not to share something personal with those who do will not respect your story, you claim what you own.
You are the creator of your life and therefore you are in control of your choices. Allowing other people to dictate this for you means that you are giving away your power and you are stepping out from your authenticity. Setting healthy boundaries and giving yourself permission to do less people-pleasing is essential to live an authentic life which is in alignment with your truth and therefore with your highest potential. And this is an action of respect for self and others as well.
Heart to Heart,
© Christina Georgiou