Healthy Personal Boundaries &
How to Establish Them
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.
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
of your life.
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.
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
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 self-concept
✔ 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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