If there’s one thing folks have been trying to navigate over the past year and a half it’s boundaries. Whether they’ve been COVID-19 related or not, we’ve all experienced the ebb and flow of shifting comfort levels. After all this separation, setting boundaries can sound like a scary concept, especially when it comes to your family, friends and partners. Do you just tell them no? Do you write out a three paragraph-long text?? Yell out your boundaries on Insta stories in ALL CAPSSS??!
While it can be challenging to set healthy boundaries, it does get easier to recognize them once you get the hang of it. Think of a situation you’ve been in with a friend or partner that really bothered you. Maybe they keep coming to you for relationship advice that they never actually take. They might borrow your stuff and give it back in less-than-ideal condition (ummm, that stain wasn’t there before…). Or maybe they’re guilty of constantly flaking on your plans last-minute. Sound familiar?
No matter what type of boundary-crossing you’re dealing with, it’s never too late to address them. Just because you haven’t put them in place yet, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard and R-E-S-P-E-C-T-ed! Because as simple as it sounds...If we don't tell people how we feel how will they know?
According to PsychCentral there are a number of different kinds of boundaries starting with emotional boundaries.
Setting emotional boundaries with friends can be tough.
Part of being a friend means being there for each other, right? True. But it’s also okay to admit when you’re not in the right headspace to be there for someone else. And it can go both ways.
You can either be the one saying, “I’m sorry you’re going through this. Honestly, I’m not in a good place to be there for you right now. Could we talk about it later?” OR “My date was the worst! Are you okay with hearing about it right now?”
It’s okay to admit when you’re not in the right headspace to be there for someone else. You’re not helping anyone if you’ve got nothing in your tank.
Boundaries can be physical as well.
Especially now, coming out of this social disaster (we’re going from 6ft apart to hugging?!). Your spidey senses may be tingling. It’s okay to let people know that you don't want to be touched or that you need more space. Instead, try: "I’m not a big hugger. I’m more of a fist bump or enthusiastic high five kinda person."
Another big boundary we’re grappling with right now is: TIME.
Your time is valuable, and you want to protect how it’s being used. Setting time boundaries is incredibly important at work, home, and socially. Setting time boundaries means understanding your priorities and setting aside enough time for the many areas of your life without overcommitting. When you understand your priorities, it is much easier to limit the amount of time (read:energy) you are giving to other people.
To dive deeper into boundaries and consequences writer and wellness consultant Alex Elle and therapist and author Andrea Bonior share their best techniques for making and maintaining boundaries.
We know that setting boundaries can feel awkward or scary. As you’re thinking about them now, you might even be worried that your friends will feel bad or lash out at you. But practise makes perfect. The more we set boundaries, the more we recognize them. By setting boundaries, we help people show up for us, and we also become better at showing up for them.