How To Create Healthy Boundaries With Love Instead of Fear
You hear a lot about boundaries and have probably worked on setting some for yourself - but have you ever stopped to consider if your boundaries are healthy for yourself and those around you?
They might not be visible to the human eye, but boundaries are important in human relationships. You may have experienced them yourself or witnessed them in others.
A boundary is often a necessary line drawn within a relationship or any other aspect of your life that ensures fairness and equality above all else. The difference between a healthy and unhealthy boundary is that healthy boundaries help you take responsibility for your own actions, needs, wants, and emotions without taking on the responsibility of others.
When we take on what others want and need as part of our everyday thought process, we are taking on an emotional toll that is often referred to as the unpopular emotional labor. Avoiding this unhealthy habit ensures your energy is not depleted unfairly, that your love is not drained from you, and that your beliefs and wishes are respected.
They facilitate the creation of emotional health and are sustained by those who are at an emotionally healthy place.
So, when we work on our boundaries, we work on ourselves as well.
What Happens When We Don’t Create Proper Boundaries?
When we do not establish proper boundaries in our life we can suffer from a host of troubles. This is especially true for those who have a hard time saying no to others. Their good natures can be taken advantage of as they don’t like to hurt or let down the other person. This creates a hard cycle to break free from - where the standards in a relationship disadvantage one or more parties.
In such instances, it is important to remember that their needs are just as important as another person's. This can often stem from a lack of self-esteem or low self-worth.
Not only do we end up feeling taken advantage of and our self-esteem feels shattered, but we can also experience physical problems too. Fatigue, headaches, and lethargy are common symptoms when our energy is being drained from us. Our mind, body, and emotions are all intertwined so when one is out of sync, so are the others.
There are four key factors in creating a healthy boundary...
- Identify and name your boundaries.
- Be direct in saying what you think and want.
- Be assertive and stand up for your boundaries.
- Ensure that you are respecting other people’s boundaries with kindness and respect.
The Importance of Boundaries: Personal & Professional
In most relationships that represent unhealthy boundaries, we usually see one person who takes too much responsibility for others and the other who doesn’t take as much or, in dire circumstances, none at all.
Without them, we see these relationships fall apart as it is difficult to function in love, family, friendship, and work when both people do not feel respected or honored. Our sense of personal worth drops, our energy depletes, we feel we are being taken advantage of or that we are being used. We want it to stop, but we don’t know how because we’re stuck by the bounds of the relationship, meaning we don’t want to upset the other party.
All in all, it’s not good.
When we set these boundaries – firm, respectful, and kind ones – it can only lead to something positive. It requires courage and inner strength from us, but when we are able to muster this courage and stand behind what we say we will begin to see the world around us change.
Sometimes we will lose friends or find ourselves distant from things that we were so close with before, but these changes only come to improve our lives as we set these as rules for how we want to be treated and how we will treat others.
Treat yourself with love and others will follow. Try this Mindfulness Practice For Self-Love to begin your journey.
Asserting Boundaries in Your Daily Life
Below are several ways you can assert boundaries in your daily life. The sensation may be uncomfortable at first, but that is because you are doing something outside your comfort zone. It just takes some time getting used to – and no, you are not a bad person for setting these boundaries!
1. Write down what you want to say
This is a good way to create a healthy boundary. Before talking about it with the other person, write down what you wish to say. Imagine the scene unfolding in your mind. The reason this method helps is that it prepares you for the moment you discuss it.
Leaping in headfirst may cause your emotions to get the better of you, which paves the way for anger, resentment, or simply freezing and not knowing what to say.
Start today: How Journaling Heals Mental Blocks
2. Put yourself in their shoes
Empathy is one of the best ways to create a healthy boundary. Practicing empathy for the other person helps dissolve any negative emotions you may feel and enables you to think in a more calm and rational manner.
For example, in the case of the partner who snores, put yourself in their shoes. They don’t mean to snore. They don’t realize they are doing it when it happens. They don’t mean to hurt you.
Imagine if you were the snorer and regularly upsetting your partner. How would you feel? What would you do?
By the same token, encourage them during your discussion to put themselves in your shoes too.
3. Listen to your feelings
… and pay attention to your energy levels. Setting up healthy boundaries is not just about having a discussion with another. It’s about recognizing what you are capable of giving out to others. It’s about acknowledging when you need to recharge your batteries and how much you can tolerate before you feel worn out.
Your feelings are clues to this, as are your energy levels.
4. Make self-care a priority
This is important but often overlooked. The point of boundaries in the first place is to take care of yourself. It’s sad to know that many people who feel taken advantage of don’t often get or give themselves the care that is necessary. To set a boundary, you first need to believe you are worthy of a boundary.
This means taking care of yourself and it starts from within. Repeating positive affirmations to yourself, engaging in something as pleasant as a bath with essential oils, or treating yourself to a new outfit or hair-do are great ways to start taking care of yourself.
An Example of Setting Your Boundaries
Here’s a prime example. Your partner snores – loudly. You can’t get to sleep at night. You feel drained and miserable in the morning due to a lack of sleep. You decide to address the issue by setting a boundary.
An unhealthy boundary would be screaming and shouting at them, threatening them, calling them names; chucking their things into the street in a rage; or maintaining a frosty silence and freezing them out.
A healthy boundary would be sitting them down and letting them know how you feel. In a calm tone, you could say something along the lines of:
“The snoring is keeping me awake at night. I know it’s not your fault, but I need my sleep. The situation can’t go on as it is and I hope you understand. We have to work through this to find a resolution.”
In both examples, the message you are trying to convey is the same but the way in which it is said makes all the difference in the world. One charges and spreads negative energy and resentment; the other diffuses a negative situation and transforms it into something positive. Being mindful of this can help you establish healthy boundaries.
Protecting Your Energy is More Important Than Ever
In these challenging times, creating healthy boundaries is vital. We find ourselves swamped in the midst of a pandemic and physical boundaries are essential to our well-being and the well-being of society. At the same time, emotional boundaries can take their toll on us.
Social distancing can wear us down and frustrate us. Being unable to socialize with loved ones and being restricted to video-calls can depress us. Feeling pressured to work when we are struggling with fear and anxiety takes its toll on us.
Setting healthy boundaries in all these areas will help us maintain a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance that can see us through these trying times. First and foremost, we must recognize the necessity of creating healthy boundaries and then work towards forming them. The methods listed above can be a great starting point for this.
Conclusion: What Are Your Boundaries?
When we allow fear to shape our boundaries, we simply generate more fear. This is how fear works – it can only feed off itself.
Fear cannot thrive where there is love. Love is the harder route to take at times, but it is the one that generates and spreads positivity.
When you feel fear and anxiety getting the better of you, take some time to step back and breathe. Fill yourself with love and remind yourself that a boundary does not have to be associated with fear. It is all about taking control of your mindset and believing that you have the strength and courage to take charge of these debilitating fears and transform them into something positive – notably, a healthy boundary.
With boundaries comes balance: Learn more about creating balance in your relationships here.