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THE IMPORTANCE OF HEALTHY & POSITIVE BOUNDARIES

Updated: a day ago


Setting boundaries is essential if we want to be both physically and emotionally healthy. Creating healthy boundaries is empowering. By recognizing the need to set and enforce limits, you protect your self-esteem, maintain self-respect, and enjoy healthy relationships. Unhealthy boundaries cause emotional pain that can lead to dependency, depression, anxiety, and even stress-induced physical illness. A lack of boundaries is like leaving the door to your home unlocked: anyone, including unwelcome guests, can enter. On the other hand, having too rigid boundaries can lead to isolation, like living in a locked-up castle surrounded by a mote. No one can get in, and you can’t get out.


What Are Boundaries?

Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around them and how they will respond when someone steps outside those limits. The easiest way to think about a boundary is a property line. We have all seen “No Trespassing” signs, which send a clear message that if you violate that boundary, there will be a consequence. This type of boundary is easy to picture and understand because you can see the sign and the border it protects. Personal boundaries can be harder to define because the lines are invisible, can change, and are unique to each individual. Personal boundaries, just like the “No Trespassing” sign, define where you end and others begin and are determined by the amount of physical and emotional space you allow between yourself and others. Personal boundaries help you decide what types of communication, behavior, and interaction are acceptable.


Healthy Boundaries Allow You To:

  • Have high self-esteem and self-respect.

  • Share personal information gradually, in a mutually sharing and trusting relationship.

  • Protect physical and emotional space from intrusion.

  • Have an equal partnership where responsibility and power are shared.

  • Be assertive. Confidently and truthfully say “yes” or “no” and be okay when others say “no” to you.

  • Separate your needs, thoughts, feelings, and desires from others. Recognize that your boundaries and needs are different from others.

  • Empower yourself to make healthy choices and take responsibility for yourself.


Unhealthy Boundaries:

  • Sharing too much too soon or, at the other end of the spectrum, closing yourself off and not expressing your need and wants.

  • Feeling responsible for other’s happiness.

  • Inability to say “no” for fear of rejection or abandonment.

  • Weak sense of your own identity. You base how you feel about yourself on how others treat you.

  • Disempowerment. You allow others to make decisions for you; consequently, you feel powerless and do not take responsibility for your own life.


How To Positively Set Healthy Boundaries:

(Modified from the book, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, by Anne Katherine)

  • When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, calmly, firmly, respectfully, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify, get angry, or apologize for the boundary you are setting.

  • You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for communicating your boundary in a respectful manner. If it upset them, know it is their problem. Some people, especially those accustomed to controlling, abusing, or manipulating you, might test you. Plan on it, expect it, but remain firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You cannot successfully establish a clear boundary if you send mixed messages by apologizing.

  • At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty, or embarrassed when you set a boundary. Do it anyway and tell yourself you have a right to self-care. Setting boundaries takes practice and determination. Don’t let anxiety or low self-esteem prevent you from taking care of yourself.

  • When you feel anger or resentment or find yourself whining or complaining, you probably need to set a boundary. Listen to yourself, determine what you need to do or say, then communicate assertively.

  • Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. Set them in your own time frame, not when someone else tells you.

  • Develop a support system of people who respect your right to set boundaries. Eliminate toxic persons from your life those who want to manipulate, abuse, and control you.

It’s important for all of us to have personal boundaries. They dictate how we can approach relationships in general. Our boundaries help us live in-tune with our desires, needs, and feelings. We can say no to the things that we don’t want to do and yes to the things that we want to do.


Clearly established boundaries help us to take care of ourselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. Our boundaries help us to become less concerned about how we are viewed and more satisfied with the perceptions we have of ourselves.


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