What are boundaries and why do you need them?

May 16, 2024

Do you say ‘yes’ to things because you’re worried about upsetting other people? Do you keep your opinions to yourself in case people disagree with you? Do you find yourself constantly worrying about others and spending too much time and energy trying to fix other people’s problems? In your efforts to be a kind and helpful person, you could be harming yourself in the process. Did you know that always pleasing others instead of yourself can lead to poor mental health, depression, and even physical illness?

 

Boundaries are the limits we place on what we decide to be acceptable or comfortable behaviors in our interactions with others. When we set a boundary we make a conscious choice about what we feel goes beyond being treated with due respect, care, and consideration. Setting boundaries for ourselves is a way to make sure people treat us with at least the same level of respect and kindness that we treat them. 

 

Whether in the workplace or in your personal life, it is healthy to be able to say ‘no’ with confidence when you feel like someone is asking too much from you, without fear, shame or guilt. But if this is something you are not used to doing it can feel scary and wrong. Often when we struggle with standing up for ourselves it comes from a deep-rooted fear (which starts in childhood) of being disliked, rejected, or abandoned. These feelings are totally normal, and they can be overcome. 

Importantly, having boundaries also means honoring other people’s boundaries. Someone else might have different ideas about what is and is not acceptable for them. Learning to respect people’s sense of dignity and self-determination is crucial, as well as being open to having a sensitive but honest dialogue when the people you are working with do not match your expectations about how you should treat each other.  

 

Find out more about how to start creating and implementing better boundaries in your life with these helpful resources: