Healthy Personal Boundaries &
How to Establish Them
Learning to set
healthy personal boundaries is necessary for maintaining a positive
, 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.
Personal 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 in others.
It would not be possible to enjoy healthy relationships without the 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 friends.
To set personal boundaries means to preserve your integrity, take responsibility for who
you are, and to take control
How do we establish healthy personal boundaries?
Know that you have a right to personal boundaries.
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 don't want
- Touching a person without asking
When we possess healthy personal boundaries:
✔ We have improved self-confidence and a healthy
✔ We are more in touch with reality
✔ Are better able to
✔ Have better more fulfilling relationships
✔ Have more stability and control over our lives
It is never too late to work on establishing healthy personal
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