The Who, What, Why, When & How of Boundaries


You. If you are a living, breathing, human being, then boundary setting is for you. In fact, research shows that some of the most loving and caring people are those who are have good boundaries. Everyone benefits from setting healthy boundaries.


To understand what boundaries are, we need also need an understanding of what they are NOT. A
boundary is NOT a threat, manipulation, or ultimatum. A boundary is a clear, honest assessment of what works for you, and what doesn’t. In the words of Brene Brown, “Boundaries are important. They’re not fake walls, they’re not separation, boundaries are not division. They are respect.”


Boundaries can be set in practically every setting, and every relationship. Boundaries can be set at work with bosses and co-workers. They are important at home with spouses and children. They influence our friendships and interactions with our neighbors.


Sometimes we don’t realize that we needed to set a boundary until that boundary is crossed. Some
clues that we need to set a boundary is if we find ourselves saying “yes” when we mean “no”. Stron
emotions such as anger, resentments, irritability, and frustration are usually a good clue that someone has crossed our boundaries; even if we haven’t previously been clear or aware ourselves about what that boundary is.

A different clue that we need to set a boundary if we find ourselves trying to control others or are
ourselves being controlled in some way by someone else. The caretaker role is another behavioral clue that we may be letting others cross our boundaries, or perhaps are trying to overstep other’s


Boundaries help us to set clear limits and guidelines for others to know what is and isn’t okay with us, and predictable consequences if these boundaries are crossed. Boundaries are less about what we will do to others if these boundaries are not respected, and more about how we will take care of ourselves.

Boundaries are the basis for healthy relationships, including a loving relationship with ourselves.
Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More puts it like this: “As we develop healthy boundaries, we develop an appropriate sense of roles among family members, others, and ourselves. We learn to respect others and ourselves.”


Boundary setting begins with an accurate assessment of what is and isn’t okay for you. What works, and what doesn’t? It begins with recognizing that you have your own individual identity, and innate worth. It starts with exploring the reality that you don’t have to put up with the misbehaviors of others around you, and instead realizing that you teach others how to treat you by how you treat yourself. If you struggle to know how to set boundaries or feel like it isn’t okay for you to set a boundary, reach out and get the support and help that you need and deserve. Start living life happier, one boundary at a time.

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