Boundaries, whether we’re talking about the out-of-bounds lines that mark the perimeter of a play area or the ones we set in our relationships, serve the purpose of drawing a line between what actions are allowed and what aren’t. Besides relationship boundaries, there are other types such as mental boundaries, emotional boundaries, physical boundaries, and more. Regardless of the type, boundaries are meant to help you live more happily and healthily by allowing you to take charge of your life, and we at Psych2Go are willing to share just some of the many boundaries that could do just that. That being said, here are 8 boundaries you need to set in your life:
1. Don’t Dwell Over Past Mistakes
Mistakes are inevitable and a normal part of life; “You live and you learn,” as they say. Despite this, we’ve all had our “cringe” moments when thinking back on past mistakes, causing us to think lowly of ourselves. While these reactions are normal, it’s important to not allow yourself to illicit these reactions without also remembering it’s okay to make mistakes, and that your past self didn’t have the same wisdom and rationality that you have now. Therefore, it’s important to reflect and not shame. Instead of putting your efforts towards humiliating yourself for what you could’ve done differently at the time, a much healthier, more beneficial approach would be to determine what you did wrong and use it to avoid making the same mistake in the future. Another healthy and positive reminder to keep in mind is that your ability to recognize a past fault means you’ve already achieved the first step in becoming a better person.
2. Avoid Engaging in Negative Self-Talk
Tying in with accepting your past mistakes, another important boundary to set for yourself is to avoid negative self-talk in general. Sometimes, it can be easy to overlook the difference between acknowledging your flaws and out-right shaming yourself. When you acknowledge your weaknesses, you do so in a reflective way that can be used to help pin-point what exactly you can improve about yourself. On the other hand, when you humiliate yourself, you directly attack and bring down your character, without much planning on how you can improve. Self-humiliation and negative self-talk is something we can let easily slip particularly when in a bad mental state or going through a rough time. Phrases like, “I hate myself,” and “No one likes me,” are examples of this. Negative internal monologue is also harmful because it has a snowball effect; the more you talk down on yourself, the more you reinforce it, and the stronger these harmful self-beliefs can become in our consciousness. By doing so can decrease your self-confidence, which can affect aspects of your life, such as work and school. To avoid this, you can work on becoming more conscious of your thoughts by catching yourself in the act and immediately countering your negative comments with positive, encouraging affirmations, like “I am able”, “I am worthy”, and more. Just as you wouldn’t talk badly about others, the same respect should be held for yourself.
3. Maintain a Healthy Balance Between Your Work and Personal Needs
Having and maintaining a healthy balance between work and your personal needs is a must for a healthy, stress-reduced lifestyle. Because of the “work grind” culture that surrounds us and the desire to achieve and fulfill our goals, it can be easy to find yourself in a “work-’til-you-drop” mindset. When you fall victim to this way of life, you base your life around work and treat it as though it’s a never-ending to-do list. Being hardworking is an admirable trait, but you also have to learn how and when to turn your “work-mode switch” off by making time for relationships, hobbies, and days off, otherwise you risk the chance of burnout. Whether it’s ending your day with a couple episodes of your favorite show or setting up a nice, warm bath once you get home, we all need to treat ourselves and reserve time for things we enjoy just for the sake of our enjoyment. By maintaining this balance between work and personal needs, you’re doing yourself a favor by limiting your stress and granting yourself time to enjoy and appreciate life.
4. Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Differences
Being comfortable in your own skin is another personal boundary that can help you find comfort in being yourself, which is important in order to put an end to a life of people-pleasing. Being different from others is something we usually avoid as they can cause feelings of loneliness and make you feel like an outsider. Because of this, you might try to act a certain way in order to fit in; a way that’s unnatural, fake, and contrasting to who you really are as a person. Whether it’s changing the way you dress or buying Instagram “likes” and followers to seem popular, you’re enabling yourself in living a life that seeks acceptance and validation from others. While it’s definitely not a bad thing to do what’s trendy, choosing to do what everyone else does only becomes a problem when done for the purpose of feeling socially accepted and validated by others, rather than solely for your own interest. This kind of behavior could likely stem from a source of insecurity, feeling different from other people, or trauma from having felt like an outcast and labeled as “weird” by others before. Learning to embrace your quirks and the things that make you different is important since they’re all key components that make up who you are, and most definitely aren’t something to be ashamed of.
5. Validate Your Feelings, Especially Your Negative Ones
There’s a widespread misconception that sadness equates to weakness and sensitivity. Because of this, a common reaction you might have heard from people to someone who’s sad is that they should just “get over it” or that it’s “not a big deal”. These disregarding phrases are a form of verbal invalidation that shames shown emotions, rather than accepting them. While it’s no doubt that feelings are a very normal experience, sometimes we allow others, and even ourselves, to downplay or disregard how we feel in certain situations. Whether it’s the sadness you feel after dropping your ice cream on the sidewalk or the hurt you take from someone’s words, there’s no right or wrong way to feel during instances like these. That being said, a boundary you should put up is to deny any invalidation of your feelings from only others, but from yourself as well. Showing emotion shouldn’t be something you allow yourself to be put down for and despite what others or yourself may think, being emotional does not mean you’re “overreacting”. Invalidated feelings can cause feelings of shame and embarrassment to arise, so it’s important not to let yourself or others make you feel this way.
6. Don’t Assume Responsibility Over Other People
While caring for the ones we hold close is important, there’s a line that needs to be drawn between being there to support them and taking on the job of trying to “fix” them. When it comes to those who aren’t willing to better themselves and would rather depend on you to help them, this is when assisting someone in need can become a problem. Seeing the effects of a friend or loved one’s poor choices can easily make you feel inclined to help, which can sometimes lead to you attempting to take their burden for them. However, while you may feel like you’re doing a good deed, sometimes tackling other people’s problems can cause more harm than good; trying your hardest to constantly monitor someone’s choices, fix their habits, or deal with the consequences of their actions for them can become physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing on yourself. Not only can it drag you down, but it also does little to help the other person learn how to overcome their problem on their own. Setting the boundary of leaving responsibility where it lies reminds you that it isn’t your obligation to change or fix someone who’s unwilling to do so. Instead of trying to tackle their problems for them, the best we can do is lend a shoulder to lean on when and an ear to listen. The only person we hold undeniable responsibility for is ourselves, and the same rule should apply to others as well.
7. Don’t Let Other People Define Your Worth
Another important boundary to set in life is one that involves how you let other people affect how you see yourself. How other people poorly treat you shouldn’t be used as a way to define your worth. When someone is disrespectful to you, it isn’t meant to serve as a way to define who you are, regardless of your looks, accomplishments, or background. If anything, someone else’s disrespectful behavior says much more about them than it does about you, and that by treating you poorly is their way of making themselves feel superior. When you allow another person’s negative view of you to morph into yours, you place more value on their judgments over your own. Because we can’t control what other people choose to say, think, or do to us, it’s important that you remain confident and headstrong in who you are and remember that worth and self-identity is one that can only be defined by you, and not by someone else.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Reinforce Your Boundaries With Others
Setting boundaries in your relationships is not always a “one-and-done” job; there’ll definitely be times when your boundaries are overstepped. Whether it’s by a stranger or a close friend, when it happens, you have to be able to reinforce your boundaries after the incident instead of letting the incident slide. For reinforcement with others to be successful, communication and understanding is needed on both ends. Reinforcing them with someone can either be as simple as telling them how their actions made you uncomfortable, or even telling them you don’t like when they do a certain thing. In healthy relationships, accidentally overstepping each other’s boundaries is normal and whether you stepped over someone’s boundaries should not be something that’s up for debate, neither something either of you should “sweep under the rug”. By letting these instances slide would be counterproductive and defeating the purpose of forming and setting boundaries in the first place. In short, there’s no point in making boundaries if you aren’t going to stick to them and reinforce them when needed.
These eight boundaries are just some of the many you could set in your life. The result of these boundaries are meant to allow you to live a healthier, happier life and help you become a more steadfast person when it comes to how you treat yourself and how others treat you. While they definitely do take time to become regular practices, the effort you put into forming and applying boundaries to your life is more than worth it. Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments below.
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