Resilience is a set of skills and behaviours that can be learned and having resilience is probably more important now than ever before. Managing our boundaries plays a big part in our personal resilience and wellbeing.

But what do we mean by ‘managing our boundaries?’, have a look at the list below and see if you recognise any of the following;

Do you ever…

·       feel unable to say ‘no’ for fear of what others will think of you or through fear that you might be rejected from the team or group that you value?

·       Feel responsible for the happiness of others?

·       Feel that others are making the decisions in your life and feel disempowered as a result?

·       Share too much information too soon or alternatively not express your needs and wants at all?

All of these feelings and actions may be an indication of unhealthy boundaries and they certainly won’t enable you to manage your resilience going forward.

What are boundaries within relationships and why are they import Boundaries tell people where the line is…It’s the invisible line that we communicate as our limit. Boundaries can be physical, emotional, political, intellectual and time-based.

We’ve all had instances where we’ve allowed our boundaries to be pushed. The extra work with an unreasonable deadline, the family responsibility that is suddenly exclusively ours, and the dismissal of our thoughts and ideas as irrelevant. It feels uncomfortable to have our boundaries breached. If you’re unsure whether your boundary has been breached notice how you’re feeling – If you feel anger or resentment or find yourself complaining, you probably need to set a boundary.

It’s critical that we manage our boundaries effectively and communicate our views, needs and wants in our relationships. This sends a clear message to others about our views, beliefs and what we will and won’t tolerate. It also increases our self-esteem and increases the level of respect we get from others. It enables us to have more positive meaningful interactions and sets limits in our relationships in a way that is healthy.

What stops us setting boundaries…?

When we look at it logically it seems ridiculous to imagine that anyone would want their boundaries violated, so why do we allow it? Well, mostly its fear; fear of confrontation, fear of rejection, fear of not being loved by the other person anymore and fear of abandonment. Guilt also plays a huge part. ‘What if’…I don’t do this and something bad happens?

Lots of us weren’t taught about boundaries and certainly not how to maintain healthy ones, so here are some guidelines on how to do it.

How to set healthy boundaries…

·      Decide what’s important to you and what’s not negotiable.

·      Communicate that being clear, direct, firm and respectful.

·      Don’t negotiate, defend yourself or spend time explaining the detail. Your decision is final.

·      Once your boundaries are clearly communicated take action that supports them. (i.e. do not send mixed messages by apologising)

·      If it helps, enlist moral support at the start, until you get used to it.

·      Don’t give in, stay strong, remind yourself that you have a right to self-care.

Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. Be patient with yourself, practice until you feel more confident.

Setting clear boundaries means that we focus on what’s right for us. Boundaries allow us to be in charge, choosing what we allow inside our lives and therefore helping us to become more resilient. It’s important to remember that you are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. If it upsets them, know that it’s their problem.…. if you don’t manage your boundaries you give yourself away.

References: Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine

Read more about Janette Kirk-Willis and her other articles HERE

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