Why you need to set boundaries
Healthy boundaries are crucial to our mental health, and most of us know we should set them. The tricky part: learning how to say no without worrying we’ll lose friends or anger family.
That fear is understandable, but it’s essential for your health and well-being to set boundaries with others, says psychologist, Carrie Landin.
Learning how to set boundaries is a form of self-care.
“Without boundaries, you can feel taken advantage of, taken for granted, or imposed upon,” says psychologist, Holly Schiff. “You are prioritising your own comfort over the comfort of others, and that’s OK to do!”
Types of boundaries
Boundaries are the framework for acceptable behaviour and the way you communicate that to others.
Effective boundaries reflect your personal values and priorities, evolve over time, and establish context for how a person will respond if someone else crosses the line, says social worker, Arianna Galligher.
There are six basic types of boundaries:
Material: these determine what (if anything) you are willing to give or share with someone else.
Physical: these protect your personal space and privacy.
Mental: these establish your right to have your own thoughts, values, beliefs, and opinions, even if they don’t align with someone else’s belief system.
Emotional: your emotions belong to you, and other people’s emotions belong to them. You are only responsible for your own emotions.
Sexual: these protect your right to choose your comfort level with sexual activity.
Spiritual: these allow you to determine your own relationship with God or a higher power.
Boundaries benefit both parties
Assumptions and inferences are the opposite of boundaries.
While they may feel easier in the moment – “Eh, they’ll figure it out eventually”– this type of unclear communication often leads to more pain, confusion and contention in the long run.
“Boundaries should be a normal part of what you do in every relationship,” Landin says. “When you fuse your needs, emotions and responsibilities with those of others, you create stress for yourself and you take away the other person’s right to have their space and experience separate from yours.”