Boundaries are the rules and limits we set for ourselves in relationships, whether it’s friends, family, or romantic interests. Where our boundaries lie will look different from person to person, but the purpose of them is all the same – to protect ourselves and maintain healthy relationships. Without clear boundaries, our close relationships often suffer. They set the standard for how we’re treated and allow people a chance to meet that standard. We sacrifice our mental wellbeing when we constantly allow people to overstep our boundaries. It also makes life more difficult.
If boundary sounds like a bad word, it’s time to change that. There are a few misconceptions around boundaries that perpetuate the idea that they’re “bad”. They aren’t a bad thing. Boundaries are a form of protection, not a way to limit others. The term gets a bad rap, but in truth they’re an invaluable tool to create stronger connections. In fact, healthy boundaries are a form of self-care and respect, and maintaining them encourages others to do the same. If you find yourself feeling manipulated or resentful in your relationships, this could indicate that your boundaries are vague or inconsistent. Below are some common signs that you need to work on your boundaries.
Poor boundaries are a common struggle and becoming aware of what they look like is a step in the right direction. In order to build a better relationship with boundaries, give yourself the grace to mess up. Setting boundaries isn’t a linear process, but you’ll learn a lot along the way. Tuning into your feelings and regular self-reflection will help you hone your boundary setting skills. If you think you lack proper personal boundaries, that’s okay. Here are a few signs that your boundaries may need some work.
It can be difficult saying no to those you love. This is especially true if you’re someone who identifies as a “people-pleaser”. It’s important to understand that your time is just as valuable as the time of those you’re trying to please. It’s also not your responsibility to manage anyone’s emotions. Saying ‘no’ means you value your time, and when it’s time to say ‘yes’, you’ll have the energy to give it your all.
Constantly violating your own values and morals for the sake of making someone else is the path to resentment. Studies show that a pattern of failing to keep promises to yourself damages self-trust. Just as we hold others accountable on their promises, it’s important we do the same for ourselves. It’s also crucial that we learn how to trust ourselves so that we feel safe trusting other people.
Have you ever left a conversation feeling like maybe you shared too much? Better yet, do you spend time afterwards overanalyzing everything you said? Oversharing is a common struggle among people who lack personal boundaries. It’s not a conscious decision, but it often leaves us feeling icky and depleted. Oversharing usually comes from a desire to connect.
A problem with underdeveloped boundaries is that you end up lacking a sense of self. An innate fear of rejection plays a contributing role. You might be so wrapped up in others’ opinions that you don’t even know what you think outside of that. Developing your own opinions is crucial to your mental health and allows you to make decisions from a place of certainty. Always relying on the approval of everyone else is mentally and physically exhausting. Start asking yourself what would make you happy.
Are you regularly arguing with the people closest to you? Do you feel like your relationships are one-sided and you must be the one to put in all the effort to keep them afloat? Lacking boundaries is a surefire way to end up in codependent relationships. You’ll often feel resentment and anger towards them and vice versa. This is the result of not setting the standards for how you want to be treated. To combat this, it helps to identify what type of traits are admirable in another person and how you can model them in your own life.
Poor boundaries are never acted out with malicious intent. However, if we never address them, our relationships and our self-esteem suffer. Boundaries aren’t something to be afraid of, and it’s never selfish to take care of yourself. Our boundaries give ourselves a sense of safety. They also build trust and respect. Learning to have a positive association with boundaries will encourage you to start implementing them into your own life. Below are just a few advantages of implementing healthy boundaries.
Having a clear understanding of the purpose of boundaries can help you navigate how to implement them. However, if you find yourself constantly neglecting your boundaries or struggling with others crossing them, it may be a sign that it’s time for a mental wellness check. Your boundaries are an important component to your emotional wellbeing. Never hesitate to reach out for help or guidance.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.