Learning how to set boundaries is an important part of taking care of yourself. As an Orlando therapist, I frequently work with clients that struggle with setting boundaries. Sometimes people aren’t even sure what “boundaries” are or why they matter. When people discover that boundaries are a form of self-care, they begin to understand the value they have on their mental health. Sometimes the hardest part of setting a boundary is being comfortable with using the word “no.”
Imagine a boundary as a line that you draw around you. Imagine that it is a force that protects you from getting hurt or losing a part of yourself. Some people are better at maintaining boundaries than others. Often you will see those types of people achieving success and seemingly always getting their needs met. They have mastered the art of boundary setting and thus know how to say “no” or advocate for what they want without worry. Other types of people struggle more, often have a strong desire to please others, and frequently find themselves emotionally drained.
If you happen to be one of those people that have a hard time saying no, then you can relate. It feels good to make other people happy. Maybe it gives you a sense of purpose or necessity to someone. This can feel good in the moment, but later you may realize you neglected your own needs in the meantime. In anxiety therapy, for example, if someone is suffering from symptoms of anxiety, one of the first questions I might ask is how much time they get for themselves. If someone is constantly giving to others, while asking for little in return, they aren’t nourishing their own needs and desires. Sometimes, as an Orlando therapist, the hardest self-help assignment I can ask a client to do is to carve out 30 minutes of “me” time. The importance of carving time out just for you is critical to good mental health.
Mental, physical and emotional boundaries are important in healthy relationships. They give you a sense of self-worth and value. When people take advantage of you or don’t respect your boundaries, you have every right to point this out. If you find that certain people consistently cross those lines, it’s time to take a hard look at your relationship. Unhealthy relationships are often characterized by poor boundaries, co-dependence, or disrespect.
Here are some ways that you can establish healthy boundaries and maintain self-respect:
Find relationships that are reciprocal. This means that what you give, you get back in return. One-sided relationships can often wear you out with good reason. Letting people know that you will or won’t do certain things and being ok with saying “no,” lets others know you value yourself. You matter and making sure that you surround yourself with people who think that too will only improve your quality of life.
When you put others’ needs ahead of your own, you don’t take care of yourself in the process. It’s ok to be kind, caring, and want to do things for other people. It’s just very important to not forget yourself in the meantime. The main reason this is not good is because if you don’t take care of you, then there won’t be any of you left to give. If it helps, next time you struggle with saying “no,” try to remember that.
When you find someone continues to cross your boundaries, take advantage of you, or disrespect you in some way, speak up. Don’t be afraid to say how you feel and that you don’t like that. Redefine your expectations and try again. If you find that it continues to happen, don’t make excuses for that person or just go along with it to avoid conflict. You have every right to step back from the relationship. If it’s a close family member, you may have to find ways to express yourself or draw firmer boundaries they won’t be able to cross so that you aren’t affected anymore.
ou are the expert on you. If something is making you uncomfortable or you realize things need to change, then listen to your gut. You don’t have to go along with things just because it’s how they’ve always been or because you don’t want to make someone mad. You can make changes in your life at any time. In therapy, I work with clients to empower themselves, learn to communicate their needs effectively, and to find ways they can enrich their relationships with healthy boundaries.
At Orlando Thrive Therapy, Counseling in Orlando, and working as an Orlando therapist I teach many ways to set and maintain healthy boundaries. You will see benefits professionally, personally, and within all areas of your life. Boundaries are not about being selfish, they are about self-care. When you take care of you, there is more of you to go around. And the you that goes around is much, much happier.