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Boundaries 101: Where to Begin

It’s hard making them, but you can’t live without them. Good boundaries are often encouraged, but it can be hard to know where to start. What even is a boundary? How will you know when it's working for you? What does making a boundary mean and what do you do to build them? If everyone can agree having good boundaries is important then why does

it seem like a struggle for everyone to actually do?


Hopefully, we can answer some of these questions here. In our Instagram post we discussed some things that we don’t often talk about when it comes to boundaries. These barriers can make creating boundaries after a long pattern of loose boundaries difficult, but overcoming these barriers creates personal growth which will improve relationships and life overall.



What Are Boundaries For?

When looking to create a boundary, it is important to know what purpose the boundary is meant to serve. Take some time to reflect on what you need, where your values are, and what goal you would like to achieve. These can be short term, like wanting to improve self care so that you can feel less stress, or long term like wanting to break a dysfunctional family cycle by building your self worth and stability in life. Once you know who you are, and have a clear idea of where you want to be, creating the structure of boundaries to get you there will be easier.


Boundaries are like the rules that we use to contain ourselves from spilling

out all over the place. They ensure you are always in the driver’s

seat of how you move through the world, creating the power for you

to respond instead of react.


They ensure we have enough bandwidth to cope with the struggles of daily living, and they keep us safe from harm by empowering us to block out things from the world that are not good for us. Life without boundaries is not sustainable or safe, nor is it a way to achieve true happiness. This is why it is important to have boundaries.


Boundaries Are Not Just Between You and Other People

Boundaries are also just for us, they can be internal rules or goals we set. Some examples include:

  • Boundaries around social media - both for how much time is spent using them and when to mute or unfollow accounts that cause misery

  • Boundaries around time - for example personal schedules, amount of time spent working versus relaxing, and amount of time socializing with others versus being alone

  • Boundaries around your internal monologues - catching negative self talk such as name calling or self-deprecation and building boundaries around how you speak to yourself


There are many types of boundaries, including physical, social, mental, emotional, sexual, and spiritual. It is worth examining each of these areas in your life to figure out where your boundaries are and if these need to change to get you towards where you want to be. A good place to start is reflecting on times you have felt uncomfortable and questioning what exactly made you feel this way. Would having different boundaries in place prevented this discomfort? Did your experience of discomfort lead to positive self growth or did it cost you? Sometimes having boundaries that are too rigid blocks too much discomfort, growth does require us to leave our comfort zone after all. But sometimes discomfort is a signal that something is off and needs our attention so we can see if we are safe. Only you can know the difference between growth discomfort and discomfort that signals a lack of boundaries, although learning to tell the difference between the two is often a lifelong challenge.


Start Small

When looking to improve your boundary setting skills, it can be helpful to start small. Stick with learning how to set and maintain good boundaries between you and yourself. Consider what your goals are and then think of boundaries that will help get you there. Work on implementing these and see if you can build confidence in enforcing boundaries to yourself. As you work on this process, notice what ways you resist yourself. What makes it harder to stick to your boundaries? What method do you use to overcome barriers? Once you have these answers, they will likely come in handy when enforcing boundaries with others. Once you become firm with following boundaries for yourself, expand by practicing boundaries with a close loved one that you trust. You can even tell them you are working to improve your boundaries and let them know you would like to practice that with them. Have ongoing discussions about both of your experiences with the new boundary system, both from your perspective of putting them in place and the other person’s perspective of seeing how you communicate these or respond when they are not upheld. This can provide you further insight which you can scale up to other places as needed.


They’re Not Working, Now What?


If you note difficulties putting boundaries down, or notice that no matter what strategy you try they are not respected by others, this can be important information for you to reflect on. Reflect on whether this is happening because of a lack of boundary setting skills or if something is maybe out of your control and due to the people you are trying to have boundaries with not being able to respect them. It's an unfortunate reality that no matter what you do or how hard you try, some people will just fail to receive boundaries well and won’t be able to respect them.


It is at this point you will need to consider putting in tangible consequences for when this person crosses your boundary in order to ensure they take it seriously. If you have tried to resolve the conflict caused by a person crossing your boundaries without resolution, it is often an indication that distance from that person is needed. This doesn’t have to be a permanent solution, but it is important to put clearly defined and appropriate consequences in place to ensure the people in your life know how and why to respect your boundaries. Stepping away can also help you to think clearly about if this relationship is worth continuing and how you need it to look should it continue. With this time to think you can decide if this is a relationship you can tolerate in small doses or only under certain circumstances, or if a new approach for conflict resolution can improve things. You can also consider a life without this relationship and see if that is something that appeals to you. These are all ways we can maintain fulfilling, safe, and satisfying relationships while honouring ourselves. These decisions often aren’t easy, so taking the time to show yourself compassion and self care is key.


Boundaries Are a Life Long Journey



Hopefully, this helps clarify why boundaries are needed and how to begin your journey in making them. It is a lifelong journey for all of us, with constant changes and adjustments. Sometimes we try a boundary idea out and find it really doesn’t work for us in practice, or a boundary that works well with one person has the opposite effect on another. Some days you’ll be assertive and know exactly what you want while other days you may be too tired to care about boundary violations or too overwhelmed to know what you even want in that moment. Nobody has a perfect boundary game. Some boundaries will be easier than others, and some people will follow these better than others. Some days will be better than others. But it’s all part of our growth. Learning, changing, trying new things and adjusting as we go. Just remember to love yourself and honour your needs, because at the end of the day you are so worth it.

 

If you would like to learn more about boundaries, you can


Call us at (807) 677-7787



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Great post! Setting boundaries is a lifelong practice that requires ongoing check-in's with our self to ensure we are still respecting those boundaries or setting new ones.

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