Updated: Sep 30, 2022
“Givers need to set boundaries because takers rarely do.”
This quote by Rachel Wolchin is so true. As a recovering “people pleasing giver”, I need to set healthy boundaries in my life.
It’s important to understand what we mean when talking about boundaries. Boundaries are the limits we set. Like a fence around your yard, a personal boundary keeps unwanted things, people, etc. out of your space. Boundaries also provide protection from unwanted things.
We all have boundaries. However, if our boundaries are too porous, it may feel like we don’t have any at all. One definition of porous is “not retentive or secure”. When we think of the fence example, a porous boundary is like a broken fence that allows things in and does not keep unsafe things out. A person with porous personal boundaries may over share information and not say no to others’ requests for fear of angering the person or losing the relationship.
Sometimes, when our boundaries are too porous, the temptation is to go to the other extreme and set very rigid boundaries. Neither of these approaches are helpful.
The opposite of porous is rigid. Rigid is something that cannot bend or is inflexible. A rigid fence may be made of steel or concrete and have razor wire on top. Individuals with rigid boundaries may rarely share personal information. They may not let people into their lives for fear of rejection.
The best boundaries are healthy ones. These boundaries regard our own beliefs, wants, and values as important. To have healthy boundaries, we need insight into what we want in life and what is important to us. Without this self-awareness, we may not understand or identify the boundaries we want to maintain. Healthy boundaries also include psychological flexibility. Being psychologically flexible “allows you to stay rooted in the present moment when difficult thoughts, feelings and sensations arise, and enables you to take a broader, more holistic view of the situation” source: https://theweekenduniversity.com/psychological-flexibility/. This helps us accept the reality of the situation while keeping our needs, values, and belief at the forefront.
Here are some questions to consider when creating boundaries:
*What do you value? Do your boundaries reflect your values?
*What are the needs of the other person or the situation? Can my values and the other person’s work together?
*How is this situation affecting me emotionally and psychologically? What might be the effect on my mental health if I do or don’t set this boundary?
*If my boundaries are not honored, what will be my response? It’s good to have a plan in place when boundaries are disrespected.
*How will you communicate your boundaries? Remembering the difference between rigid, porous, and healthy boundaries is important here. Your communication and language should reflect healthy boundaries.
Boundaries are important to living a healthy life. If you have not had healthy boundaries in the past, it may take some work to establish them. It’s easy to fall back into old patterns of either being too accommodating or too strict with our boundaries. While it may be difficult at first, establishing healthy boundaries in all areas is essential for a happy, productive life.