Learning to set healthy personal boundaries is necessary for
maintaining a positive self-concept, or self-image. It is our way of
communicating to others that we have self-respect, self-worth, and will
not allow others to define us.
boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we
establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or
violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we
think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their
presence helps us express ourselves as the unique
individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same
It would not be possible to enjoy healthy relationships
existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate
them directly and honestly with others. We must recognize that each of
us is a unique individual with distinct emotions, needs and preferences.
This is equally true for our spouses, children and
Know that you have a right to personal boundaries. You
not only have the right, but you must take responsibility for how
you allow others to treat you. Your boundaries act as filters
permitting what is acceptable in your life and what is not. If you
don't have boundaries that protect and define you, as in a
strong sense of identity, you tend to derive your sense
of worth from others. To avoid this situation, set clear and
decisive limits so that others will respect them, then be willing
to do whatever it takes to enforce them. Interestingly, it's been
shown that those who have weak boundaries themselves tend to
violate the boundaries of others.
Recognize that other people's needs and feelings are not more
important than your own. Many women have traditionally thought
that the needs of their husbands and children are more important
than their own. This is not only untrue, but it can undermine the
healthy functioning of the family dynamic. If a woman is worn out
mentally and physically from putting everyone else first, she not
only destroys her own health, she in turn deprives her family of
being fully engaged in their lives. Instead, she should encourage
every family member to contribute to the whole as well as take
care of himself or herself. Putting themselves last is not
something only women do, but many men as well.
Learn to say no. Many of us are people-pleasers and often
put ourselves at a disadvantage by trying to accommodate everyone.
We don't want to be selfish, so we put our personal needs on the
back burner and agree to do things that may not be beneficial to
our well-being. Actually, a certain amount of
"selfishness" is necessary for having healthy personal
boundaries. You do not do anyone any favors, least of all
yourself, by trying to please others at your own expense.
Identify the actions and behaviors that you find
unacceptable. Let others know when they've crossed the line,
acted inappropriately, or disrespected you in any way. Do not be afraid to tell others when you need emotional and
physical space. Allow yourself to be who you really are without pressure
from others to be anything else. Know what actions you may need to take if your wishes aren't respected.
Trust and believe in yourself. You are the highest
authority on you. You know
yourself best. You know what you need, want, and
value. Don't let anyone else make the decisions for you. Healthy
boundaries make it possible for you to respect your strengths, abilities and
individuality as well as those of others. An unhealthy imbalance
occurs when you encourage neediness, or are needy; want to be
rescued, or are the rescuer, or when you choose to play the victim.
Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries
Going against personal values or rights in order to please
Giving as much as you can for the sake of giving.
Taking as much as you can for the sake of taking.
Letting others define you.
Expecting others to fill your needs automatically.
Feeling bad or guilty when you say no.
Not speaking up when you are treated poorly.
Falling apart so someone can take care of you.
Falling "in love" with someone you barely know or who
reaches out to you.
Accepting advances, touching and sex that you
Touching a person without asking.
When we possess healthy personal boundaries:
✓ We have improved self-confidence and a healthy self-concept.