We all need boundaries. But boundaries are hard AF, so knowing the ways to set and maintain boundaries may be a lifelong learning for each of us.

Boundaries are kinda like an invisible line that defines what behaviours are acceptable for an individual. When you are aware of who you are as a person and your core values, it’s easier to know what kind of boundaries you need.

Healthy boundaries help to build successful and authentic relationships, be that with your friends, family or romantic relationships. Without healthy boundaries in place, might result in feelings of resentment and/or dissapointment.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries

First of all, recognize that you deserve to be treated with love and respect.

  1. Decide what your boundaries are

You need to know what you need and want from others. I know this can be challenging if you are a recovering people pleaser. Take your time to reflect on what makes you feel good and happy, and what makes you feel uncomfortable. 

  1. Using ‘I’ statements

‘I’ statements help to spell out exactly what you feel and why. 

  1. Avoid justifying yourself

You don’t need to justify or explain your reasons if that doesn’t feel good for you.

  1. Express empathy and compassion for others

When setting a boundary with someone who has your best interest heart, it helps to let them know that you value their ideas and advice. Communicate in a respectful manner and respect others’ boundaries.

Emotional Boundaries

Setting emotional boundaries can mean being aware of how much energy you are capable of taking in, honouring yourself knowing when to share, when not to share, as well as limitation when it comes to people who respond poorly or negatively.

Respecting emotional boundaries might sound like:

  • “When I share my thoughts and feelings with you and get critized, it shuts me down and make me feel small/unworthy. So I want to protect myself and only share with you if you are able to respond respectfully.”
  • “I appreciate your concern, but I don’t have the capacity to talk about it right now.”
  • “I am sorry you are going through a challenging time. Right now, I am quite distracted or in place to take listen/take in the information. Do you think we can circle back to this conversation later?”

Physical Boundaries

Physical boundaries help to protect your space, privacy and physical being.

Healthy physical boundaries might sound like:

  • “I am getting hungry, so I will go and get something to eat.”
  • “I’d appreciate it if you could ask me first before going into my room””
  • “I am really tired, I need to take a power nap.”

Time Boundaries

Your time is valuable. Having time boundaries is crucial in work, home or social settings. Understand your priorities and set aside enough time for the many areas of your life without overcommitting.

Healthy time boundaries might sound like:

  • “I appreciate your invite. However, I am craving for solitude time this weekend, so I won’t make it.”
  • “I’d be more than happy to help. My hourly rate is…” 
  • “I would love to be part of this incredible project, but I would be overcommitting myself.”
  • “I would love to catch up and have lunch with you, however I can only stay for an hour. Let me know if that works for you.”

Sexual Boundaries

This include consent, res[ect agreement, understanding of preferences and desires. 

Loving and respectful sexual boundaries might sound like:

  • “Tell me what you like and don’t like”
  • “I don’t feel like having sex tonight, can we cuddle instead?”
  • “I would like to explore this part of my desire. Is that something you would feel comfortable or would like to be part of?”

Intellectual Boundaries

This refers to thoughts, ideas and curiosity. But it doesn’t meant that you need to be accepting of all thoughts and opinions.

Respectful intellectual boundaries might sound like:

  • “I can understand and respect your opinion on this”
  • “I would love to talk about this more, but now is not the time. Let’s wait until we get home”
  • “I know we disagre, but I won’t let you make me feel bad about it”

Financial and Material Boundaries

It is totally okay and healthy to understand what you can and cannot share, how you expect your material things to be treated by people you share them with. Having this will prevent unwanted and unncessesary resentment over time.

Healthy material boundaries sound like:

  • “I don’t have the financial ability to help right now, but I would be happy to help in another way”
  • “You are more than welcome to wear my dress. Just letting you know I’d need it back by the end of the week”
  • “I’d appreciate if you could transfer the money you owe me from last month”

How to Maintain Boundaries

Just like anything else in life, in order to become an expert at setting and being comfortable with personal boundaries, you have to practice.

But here are simple ways to start reclaiming your own life:

  1. Identify your boundaries

The first step in maintaining healthy boundaries is to know what your boundaries are. Take some time to reflect on your needs, values, and personal limits.

  1. Communicate your boundaries

Once you have identified your boundaries, communicate them clearly and assertively with others. Let them know what your limits are, what behavior is acceptable or unacceptable, and what you need to feel respected and safe.

  1. Consistency is key

It’s important to be consistent with your boundaries. If you let someone cross a boundary once, they may think it’s okay to do it again. Be firm in maintaining your boundaries, even if it feels uncomfortable.

  1. Learn to say no

Possibly the biggest block that people who struggle with setting personal boundaries have is that they find it extremely difficult to say no. Saying no can be challenging for a lot of people, but it’s an important part of maintaining healthy boundaries. Practice saying no without feeling guilty or ashamed. Remember, saying no to someone else is saying yes to yourself.

  1. Because you matter

Taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining healthy boundaries. Make sure you prioritize your own needs and make time for self-care activities that help you feel grounded and centered.

  1. Seek support

You don’t need to do this alone. Reach out to someone you trust and feel comfortable talking to. Share your struggles with maintaining healthy boundaries and ask for their support and guidance.

Remember that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. It’s important to prioritize your well-being and seek the help you need to maintain healthy boundaries.

  1. Consequences to help enforce your boundaries

If the person doesn’t respond to the initial confrontation, we need to take a stronger stand by giving him/her some consequences.

Example: ”I value talking to people, not being yelled at. I need to protect myself and go for a walk and give you space until you’re to stop yelling and want to talk.

I know it’s easier to set your boundaries than enforcing them. I encourage you to write them down so that you can hold yourself accountable for creating boundaries to protect yourself, maintain (or establish) your individuality, and ensure that you use your time, energy, and resources for what matters most to you.

Keen to learn more about setting healthy boundaries? Have a listen here!

Let me know in the comments below, do you find it hard to set and maintain boundaries with people around you?