Strong emotional boundaries are essential for our wellbeing, they are a sign of confidence, worthiness and self-preservation, they say: this is what is OK for me and this is what is not.
You’d be surprised how many people lack such boundaries – including me up until a few years ago.
Strong and healthy emotional boundaries are not arrogant or fear based, they are not about hiding yourself behind a wall to be secretive, to avoid being hurt or to avoid getting close to anyone – those are unhealthy boundaries.
Strong and healthy emotional boundaries can be quite transparent; instead of a brick wall it’s more like a wire fence, people can see through if they like but that doesn’t mean they can come in!
These boundaries keep you strong, safe and happy and as a sign of self-care and self-respect we should ALL have them.
How do you know if you need stronger emotional boundaries?
1. You’re often emotionally exhausted after speaking to certain people
Ideally, conversations should inspire and energise us although we do of course sometimes have to have tough and emotionally intense conversations.
But, if you’re frequently walking away from conversations feeling emotionally, mentally and even physically drained, it’s possible that those conversations are taking too much from you. They either overstepped a weak boundary or there was no boundary to begin with.
2. You don’t know how to say ‘no’
You’re not alone in this, it’s something I’m still working on as are many people. There’s a difference between wanting to help people and not being able to say no to them.
Without a strong boundary in place, we keep saying ‘yes’. As a result we might take on more than we can handle or end up in places or relationships that we don’t want to be in, which can only lead to burn out and unhappiness.
3. You are being abused
This doesn’t need much explanation, whether abuse comes physically, verbally, sexually, emotionally or psychologically it is a huge violation and detriment to your wellbeing. Strong boundaries – both emotional and physical in this instance – must be set to let people know how you will and will not be treated.
4. You give a lot, but don’t receive back
It’s nice to give and in most healthy relationships people will reciprocate. But some people may take advantage of your good nature even if they don’t intend to. Healthy relationships with strong boundaries nurture your wellbeing and are never a one way street.
5. You seek approval from others
Relying too much on others for your sense of self-worth indicates a lack of separation – a boundary – between you and others. You cannot control other people’s opinions and they are based on many psychological filters that you cannot see. By putting your own value in their hands, you put your wellbeing in their hands.
6. You have no privacy
Everyone needs and deserves privacy and no one is under obligation to share everything with everyone. Whether it is privacy in your physical space or privacy in your own mind and emotions, being able to have your own space is an important boundary for your wellbeing.
If any of those apply to your life…
You should consider setting stronger emotional boundaries. Many of us shy away from this, it’s as if we feel bad for asserting ourselves, perhaps we think it’s selfish. But it’s not selfish, it’s self-care and you are allowed to care about yourself!
Setting stronger boundaries may seem like a big and scary task especially if you have had weak boundaries for many years. But, step by step, by saying no a little more often, by ending a conversation a little earlier than usual, by clearly stating what you do and don’t accept it will become easier.
With repetition, people will start to respect your boundaries without you having to enforce them every time. So don’t be afraid to care for yourself and remember, ‘No.’ is a complete sentence (Anne Lamott).
About the author: You can read more about Pinky Jangra here.