You may have heard the word “BOUNDARIES” but not sure what it means or looks like. In fact, many have never thought about boundaries in their lives. Having boundaries is important because it will help you to take control of your life, to have healthy relationships and be able to resolve many issues, to have a more balanced life, and be better physically, emotionally and mentally for your well-being. If you feel overwhelmed or under a lot of pressure, in prolonged stress or burn-out, losing sleep, or feeling out of control, then you most likely lack boundaries.
WHAT IS BOUNDARIES?
Boundaries are actually about responsibility – that we are responsible FOR ourselves and are responsible TO others, and by making others responsible FOR their own selves so they can be responsible TO us by saying “No, thank you, I can take the responsibility FOR myself”. Having boundaries also means knowing when to say YES to the good and NO to the bad for the sake of yourself and others (H Cloud & J Townsend, Boundaries, Zondervan Pub. House, Michigan, 1992). For instance, if your teenager is in trouble by the school for being late because they refuse to wake up, and you decide not to rescue them by driving them to be on time at school, then it will help your teenager to take responsibility to wake up earlier.
ARE THERE ANY CONSEQUENCES BY SETTING BOUNDARIES?
Yes, when you start putting some boundaries, it is common that others will get upset or angry, blaming or telling you how controlling, rigid or selfish you are. Sometimes you may feel confused and guilty. But don’t give up yet! It is part of the process of setting boundaries.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF SETTING CLEAR BOUNDARIES?
Although there are some unpleasant consequences, there are many benefits too. Setting clear boundaries can:
1. Increase your self-confidence
When you can say YES, I take that responsibility, and NO because it is someone else’s responsibility, you become more confident, productive and perform better.
2. Give you more freedom
As you set boundaries, you determine how big your “space” is, which will give you the freedom to finish your responsibilities, to improve yourself and to expand your competency; rather than being frantic because you take responsibilities that belong to others.
3. Reduce your anxiety
Knowing which one is your responsibility and which one is not will help you become less anxious in finishing what you need to do and meeting deadlines, and helping you to produce better results.
4. Avoid burn-out
Setting clear boundaries will reduce your likelihood of experiencing burn-out, because you won’t just say YES to everything others ask or expect you to do. By doing so, this will help others to learn set their boundaries too.
5. Produce healthy relationships
Often relationships can be chaotic and toxic because the couple keeps crossing each other’s boundaries. One can be over-responsible for the relationship, while the other becomes under-responsible. This will cause an imbalance in power in the relationship imbalance, which can cause trouble for their relationship, e.g. an abusive relationship.
Having clear boundaries will help you to have a healthy relationship not just with your spouse/partner, but also with your children/adolescents/adult children, parents, in-laws, colleagues and friends. Having clear boundaries will increase care, respect and create secure relationships.
6. Produce healthier well-being
Sometimes we need to set boundaries not just in a physical way, but also emotionally and mentally too to have a healthy well-being. People who have grown up in a dysfunctional family or lack secure attachment will often lack boundaries, impacting their physical and mental health.
If you want to take control of your life, you need to start putting in some boundaries. If you struggle to do so, seeking Professional help is worth a try!