I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only recently discovered what healthy boundaries look like. And it took me a while to put them into action. “Boundaries” have been a hot topic lately. It’s the new buzzword. But what exactly is a boundary and why is it so important? In my twenties, I wasn’t even aware of them. And recently, I thought I had them all figured out but it turned out I had them all wrong. I know I’m not alone. A lot of people have the wrong idea about what boundaries are, how to implement them into their lives, and who they are for. I reached out to Psychotherapist turned life coach, Alece Coleman, who has coined the term “Boundaries over B.S.” Coleman explains,”Simply put, boundaries are the very personal way we decide to interact with people.”
There’s this misconception that boundaries are rules we make up for others to follow. But in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Coleman gives examples in her latest blog post some include deciding not to participate in anything that makes you uncomfortable or has a negative effect on your mental or physical health like gossiping or physical touch like being hugged. It’s up to us to set these boundaries and make them clear.
Unfortunately, a lot of people also believe that boundaries are only necessary in romantic relationships. And not too long ago, I thought the same. It’s important to note, especially with the holiday season nearing, that boundaries are for all types of relationships: family, friends, and even coworkers. And it goes beyond being the new “buzzword” on social media. Boundaries are a game-changer.
Now that we have a clearer idea of what boundaries are, let’s talk about what they look like when they’re applied in real life situations. Coleman explains that healthy boundaries, “…are not rules you give to other people. Boundaries are not dictating the behavior of others around you for your comfort.” Some examples of what you might say to someone you are setting a boundary with are the following:
Poor boundary: Engaging in a conversation that makes you angry, sad, or uncomfortable and trying to change the other persons mind.
Successful boundary: Let’s talk about something else. I really don’t want to talk about that.
Poor boundary: Feeling uncomfortable and hoping the other person will figure it out.
Successful boundary: I am comfortable kissing and hugging you but I don’t enjoy public displays of affection.
Poor boundary: Getting upset about after-work emails and complaining to coworkers.
Success boundary: I am happy to assist you but I answer emails during business hours only.
Poor boundary: Changing plans in order to accommodate last minute changes in your work schedule and complaining about it to others.
Successful boundary: I need advance notice if my work schedule will change.
Poor boundary: You have to stop smoking or else.
Successful boundary: If you’re going to continue smoking, please don’t smoke around me or in my home.
Visit Coleman’s website Coachingatbloom.com for more examples of what healthy boundaries look like, how to find out if you need help setting healthy boundaries, and tips for setting boundaries of your own.