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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Warren

The Beauty of Boundaries

If saying “no” is hard for you, you aren’t in the minority. For many, there is the fear of

hurting someone’s feelings, not being a good friend, or maybe even being selfish. However, the truth is that our ability to say “no” makes our relationships more fulfilling, safe, and open. Although the boundary setting process can vary, healthy boundaries have a few things in common: self-respect, honoring your needs, and the improved ability to maintain strong, enduring relationships. It’s time to change the misconception that setting boundaries is “aggressive” or “selfish," but rather a healthy limit that protects everyone in the relationship. Healthy boundaries are an essential form of self-care, and maintaining your own boundaries encourages others to do the same.


How to Set Healthy Boundaries

The first step in boundary setting is checking in with your intentions. It is essential to raise your awareness about what expectations you have for yourself and others, as well as what you are comfortable and uncomfortable with. Reflect on the reasons for why you want to set these boundaries, and explore your values. Once you determine boundaries you want to set, it is helpful to be assertive when setting your boundaries, while avoiding expressing yourself in ways that are aggressive or passive. Assertiveness involves expressing how you feel in a calm and respectful way, not demanding anything from others.

healthy boundaries

Ways to be assertive in setting your boundaries involve being clear and

straightforward with your expectations, as well as accepting any discomfort that comes with sharing. Once you set your boundaries, be consistent with them. Letting boundaries “slide” can lead to confusion, as well as new and inaccurate expectations in your relationships. Additionally, communicate when your boundaries have been crossed. Communication is key in setting boundaries, as not

everyone will know when they have overstepped. It’s normal for boundary setting and enforcing to cause feelings of anxiety. Understand that it takes practice and patience. Even if it’s tough at first, you will get more comfortable if you continue to respectfully state your needs (1).


Types of Boundaries

Boundaries can fall into seven categories, and understanding each type can help you

clarify what you need! The first type is a physical boundary. Physical boundaries protect your

space and body, including physical touch. A physical boundary defines that your body and space

belong to you (3). The second type of boundary is a sexual boundary. Sexual boundaries protect

your right to consent, and to feel comfortable with your partner. The third type of boundary is an

emotional boundary. This boundary protects your right to have your own feelings and thoughts,

as well as putting your emotional well-being first before caring for others. You can support

others, but you are not responsible for their feelings. The fourth type of boundary is a religious

boundary. This boundary protects your right to believe in what you want, and protects your

spiritual values. Fifth, there are financial boundaries. You have the right to spend money how

you choose, and to not give or loan your money if you don’t want to. Sixth, there are time

boundaries, protecting how you spend your resource of time. This includes agreeing to things you actually want to do, rather than doing something you don’t want to or being overworked. Lastly, there are non-negotiable boundaries. These include things you must have in order to feel safe (3).


Recognizing Boundaries of Others

In addition to creating your own boundaries with others, it is important to understand

theirs, even if they are different from your own. Sometimes, hearing “no” from someone else can

throw you off guard or be confusing. But no matter how you feel, it is crucial to still respect

others’ boundaries, just like you would want them to respect yours. Don’t be afraid to ask what

someone needs as you get to know their boundaries. You are not a mind-reader, so don’t criticize yourself for accidentally crossing someone’s boundary. If you are finding that people are

accusing you of overstepping a lot, it is okay to ask for help and reach out in relationships.


Examples of Healthy Boundaries

Although you may have consistent boundaries within your relationships, it is normal to have different boundaries across relationships (2). Some healthy boundaries to set in

your relationships could include:


● Declining anything you do not want to do

● Expressing how you feel honestly

● Expressing problems directly with the person, not a third party

● Making clear expectations rather than hoping someone will figure it out

● Refusing to take blame for something you didn’t do

● Expecting respect from others

● Communicating discomfort

● Asking for space

● Accepting help!


Written By: Ali Green, Social Media Intern

The Grove Counseling & Consulting, LLC


Resources

1. Ph.D, Jo Nash. “How to Set Healthy Boundaries & Build Positive Relationships.”

PositivePsychology.com, 5 Jan. 2018, positivepsychology.com/great-self-care-setting-healthy-boundaries/#google_vignette.

2. Davenport, Barrie. “21 Examples of Healthy Boundaries in Relationships.” Live Bold and

Bloom, 31 May 2020, liveboldandbloom.com/05/relationships/healthy-boundaries-in-relationships.

3. “7 Types of Boundaries You May Need.” Psych Central, 23 Apr. 2020,

psychcentral.com/blog/imperfect/2020/04/7-types-of-boundaries-you-may-need#1.

Accessed 27 Aug. 2023.

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