5 Types of Healthy Boundaries You Should Set

Relationships are a huge part of life. Whether they may be parental, a friendship, or with a partner, it is crucial to implement and discuss your personal boundaries in any relationship. What are boundaries for? Well, boundaries are limits that are put into place to protect your mental and physical health, as well as your overall well being. Boundaries set expectations for what you want and what you don’t want in a relationship. According to medical journalist, Jessica Chesak, boundaries are also beneficial in allowing us to conserve our emotional energy, while improving self-esteem, and giving us the space to also grow and experience a safe amount of vulnerability. Effective boundaries allow you to feel respected, validated, and safe, while also keeping a good relationship healthy and strong. Let’s explore some key boundaries you should start setting in your life. 

Before we get started, please keep in mind that this article serves as general guidance purely for educational purposes, and is not to be taken as a substitute for professional advice. 

1. Physical Boundaries

Physical boundaries are one of the most crucial types of boundaries you need to implement in your life. Your space is your personal space, and you have the right to set expectations for what you are and aren’t comfortable with. According to psychotherapist and author, Dr. Tracy Hutchinson, physical boundaries are especially crucial, as they “set the basic guidelines for the way you want to be treated… setting [such] boundaries can ensure that relationships can be mutually respectful, appropriate, and caring”. Now when you hear the term “physical boundary”, you may think something along the lines of physical touch or affection, but it can also apply to less obvious scenarios. Physical boundaries go beyond your physical body, they also apply to your privacy and personal space. Maybe you’re just an introvert who needs time and space to energize before socializing with others. In this case, the best thing you could do would be to say something like, “I would like to have 15 minutes to myself before the guests come over. If you invite them earlier, I would appreciate you entertaining them until I’m ready to join you.” What most people tend to struggle with is communicating such concerns. Sure, it can be intimidating to voice your feelings (especially if you tend to keep them to yourself), but it is important to do so to build a sense of safety, security, and understanding for yourself and those around you. At the end of the day, no means no, and that’s that. 

2. Emotional Boundaries

Emotional boundaries are also one of the next biggest boundaries you need to set for yourself. This type of boundary involves separating your feelings from the feelings of others around you. We often find ourselves absorbing the energy of others, while internalizing their personal issues, and then end up feeling stressed out ourselves.  According to clinical director and licensed professional counselor, Stephanie Camins, some violations of emotional boundaries could include “taking responsibility for another’s feelings, letting another’s feelings dictate your own, sacrificing your own needs to please another, blaming others for your problems, and accepting responsibility for theirs.” So how can you set some healthy emotional boundaries for a healthier mindset? The first step to setting solid emotional boundaries would be to understand what your limits are, and what you are and are not responsible for in your personal life. You need to remind yourself that you are only responsible for your behavior, your choices, your feelings, and your happiness. You are not, on the other hand, responsible for the behavior or choices of anyone else. Reminding yourself of your personal priorities can allow you to gain more power and control over your overwhelming emotions and thoughts. When you honor yourself and put yourself first (which is a true necessity that’s often overlooked), you can truly make way for personal development and start being your most authentic self.

3. Time Boundaries

Ever find yourself biting off more than you can chew? We’ve all over-committed ourselves to too much at some point, but doing this actually happens to be a violation of this boundary. Time-management is key to strengthening your boundaries in this area. Really think about the priorities, goals, and tasks that matter to you the most. Don’t be afraid to say no when you have to, and don’t have to feel guilty for doing so either. Set yourself a healthy schedule with useful time boundaries, so that you have the time to focus on each important activity, event, and relationship in your life.

4. Intellectual Boundaries

Now this may be an unfamiliar type of boundary, but it is certainly a beneficial one to have. Intellectual boundaries refer to thoughts, ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and viewpoints/perspectives. The CBT Psychological Associates explain that healthy intellectual boundaries involve an awareness of appropriate discussion (like choosing when it is relevant to talk about the weather versus something heavier like politics) as well as respect for others’ perspectives and opinions on a subject. When implementing this type of boundary, you must be open to various perspectives and should try stepping out of your comfort zone to challenge your own opinions or ideas, while also further educating yourself on your personal beliefs. Intellectual boundaries are important for intellectual growth and allow us as a society to learn from each other in an informed manner through having an open mindset. 

5. Material Boundaries

Last but not least, you must set material boundaries. Material boundaries refer to possessions (including finances), for which you set limits on what you will share, for how long, and with whom. Material boundaries are important, as they allow you to ensure the security of your belongings. When you are in a situation where someone is in need of something from you, make sure that you fully trust them- bonus points if they would do the same for you (as part of a mutual relationship). Also weight out what you can afford to share more easily versus the belongings that are more important to you (an example would include lending someone five bucks compared to lending them a larger sum of money). Be wise with the decisions you make regarding material boundaries. Sharing is caring, but sharing also only works best when you’re smart with it. 

We hope you were able to gain some insight with these tips. Although setting boundaries can seem uncomfortable at first, they can truly allow you to feel safe and secure in your relationships. Communication is key in this process, and learning to be assertive with your boundaries takes patience, practice, and most importantly, support. Make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people that genuinely care about and respect your concerns, while allowing you to put yourself first in your personal life. Having the limits set and the lines drawn can give you more freedom to explore all possible types of learnings and growth in between. Remember to know your priorities, values, and responsibilities, and to stay persistent with them. Good luck with your journey! 

References

  1. Boundaries & Relationships. (n.d.). CBT Psychological Associates. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://cbtpsychologicalassociates.com/boundaries-relationships/
  2. Camins, S. (2021, May 11). Setting Emotional Boundaries in Relationships. Road to Growth Counseling. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://roadtogrowthcounseling.com/importance-boundaries-relationships/#:~:text=Emotional%20boundaries%20involve%20separating%20your,and%20accepting%20responsibility%20for%20theirs.
  3. Chesak, J. (2018, December 10). The No BS Guide to Protecting Your Emotional Space (T. J. Legg, Ph.D, CRNP, Ed.). Healthline. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/set-boundaries
  4. Hutchinson, T., Ph.D. (n.d.). What Are Personal Boundaries and Why Are They Important? Tracy Hutchinson. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.drtracyhutchinson.com/what-are-personal-boundaries-and-why-are-they-important/#:~:text=Personal%20Boundaries%20are%20important%20because,able%20to%20behave%20around%20them.&text=Setting%20boundaries%20can%20ensure%20that,respectful%2C%20appropriate%2C%20and%20caring.
  5. Morningstar, A. (2021, March 15). 12 Healthy Boundaries You Ought To Set In Your Relationship (+ How To). A Conscious Rethink. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/6573/boundaries-in-relationships/
  6. Schultz, M. F. (2016, July 11). 5 Signs That You Have Healthy Emotional Boundaries. Verily Mag. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://verilymag.com/2016/07/emotionally-open-healthy-boundaries-brene-brown-the-power-of-vulnerability-social-media-sharing

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