You can’t be all things — or do all things — for all people. A life without limits means rarely saying “no” and considering everyone else’s feelings before your own. Not only are these people-pleasing habits wholly exhausting, they put you on the direct road to burnout, a major health hazard in its own right. They disregard how much work or effort you can handle on a regular basis. That’s where boundaries come into play. In simple words, boundaries aren’t a way to keep people out. They make life as enjoyable as possible for you and for your loved ones as a result.
It’s not mean or wrong to set boundaries. Boundaries protect us from being hurt and taken advantage of. Boundaries create healthy relationships and clear expectations. And we can learn to set boundaries without feeling guilty or like we’re being mean!
Often, we assume that people will respect our boundaries because we were brought up and taught what is acceptable by our family and/or culture. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Although we can choose who we interact with in our personal life such as choosing close friends, this is not always the case in other environments such as work, family, community, etc. We can feel uncomfortable or even violated if we interact with those who have poor boundaries. But it is important to know how to establish healthy emotional, psychological, and physical boundaries in relationships so we can feel respected and safe.
Below are a few great things that happen when you learn to set your own limits:
Source: Boundaries expert Chad Buck, a clinical psychologist at Vanderbilt University’s Work/Life Employee Assistance Program
1. You’re more self-aware.
Creating your own limitations is an inherently self-aware act — and that can be incredibly beneficial for your own welfare.
2. You become a better friend and partner.
Boundaries make it possible to allow yourself to recharge. And when you’re not totally tapped out, you have more energy to devote to the ones you love. You’re also more respectful of their own needs as a result.
3. You take better care of yourself.
Boundaries help you prioritize your own well-being — plain and simple. It is not selfish to take care of yourself and your needs while also considering the needs of others. It makes you more effective and less burned out from helping if you set some limits.
4. You’re less stressed.
Without establishing your own limits, you open yourself up to the risk of taking on everyone’s problems in addition to your own. Or worse, you ignore your own happenings entirely. If you have a reasonable boundary, you don’t take on additional stress.
5. You’re a better communicator.
In order to really establish limits, you have to state what you can or cannot tolerate. That means being clear and concise. Expressing your own needs will also allow you to be more transparent. All of these characteristics are elements of good communication.
6. You start trusting people more.
Expressing your limitations to others means you’re trusting them to handle those emotions you’re conveying. And more trust means better relationships.
7. You’re less angry.
When you don’t have set boundaries you give other people the power over your own life — and that can lead to anger. We let people get away with things that are not okay. Then we just become more resentful and hateful.
8. You learn how to say “no.”
“No” may be a small word but it’s certainly powerful. The most basic way of establishing a boundary is declining anything you don’t have the capacity to handle.
9. You end up doing things you actually want to do.
Imagine your life without unnecessary obligations all because you started exercising your right to say “no.” Limits free you up for more opportunity to do the work and activities that you actually desire to do.
10. You become a more understanding person.
When you’re compassionate toward yourself about what you can tolerate, you’re better able to express that to other people who have their own boundaries they want to follow.
A more fulfilling life, a warm personality and better relationships all because you set up healthy limits for yourself? Doesn’t sound like a bad deal.