Creating Effective Boundaries in Relationships
Ridhi Golechha

Ridhi Golechha

Jun 01Mental Health

Creating Effective Boundaries in Relationships

Creating boundaries in interpersonal relationships is one of the most difficult yet crucial things to do. We tend to come across numerous myths surrounding the same, and today we will be talking about all the how’s and why’s of creating and maintaining healthy boundaries in relationships.

Breaking the myth around the term ‘Boundaries’

Myth: If a person tends to establish a boundary, it is most likely that they are either trying to distance themselves in order to hurt someone or they’re being selfish and defiant. Well, let me break this myth by explaining what it actually means to create boundaries.

Let’s imagine a house. A house has a door. Anybody who wishes to visit you, must inform beforehand so that you can open the door.If your friend or relative wants to meet you after a long day, and she shows up unannounced, one, you might not have the mental or physical space to entertain them, and two, you will probably have to sacrifice the rest of your tasks for the day, right? Instead, if you let them know well in advance that you will be free after a certain time, it gives you both the advantage of spending quality time without feeling bad about sacrificing your pre- scheduled activity (whether it was an important work task or just a Netflix binge. Besides, rather than having the feeling of resentment, you would feel excited.

Allow yourself to think of a boundary as something that strengthens your relationships instead of jeopardizing them.

Maintaining both mental and physical boundaries

Boundaries could be physical, mental or both.

Physical boundary: If your sibling punches you and you feel uncomfortable or get hurt, you immediately try to create a physical boundary and explain to him/her how wrong it was on their part to hit you. You don’t feel bad about establishing this rule. However, when it comes to mental boundaries, the scenario looks completely different.

Mental boundary: If your parents keep calling despite you telling them that you’re gearing up for an important meeting, that in itself is a violation of your mental boundary. Therefore, it is imperative that you let them know that you will only be available to talk after a given time, say 6 pm. However, be careful to have a kind approach while setting boundaries with your loved ones so that there’s no bitterness of any sort.

But what if someone keeps violating my boundaries, despite me setting them?

Here’s what could be missing in your boundary-setting practice: Consequences

When earlier we talked about your sibling punching you, the consequence of that would probably be you getting angry or screaming or complaining. However, when it comes to the consequences attached to mental boundary violations, they go unnoticed. The reason for this is because most of the time, we are not vocal about them enough for people to understand what is acceptable and what isn’t. However, only conveying what the consequences would be is not enough. It is equally important for you to follow through those consequences. If you do not exercise the results of your sibling punching you, they will think it is alright to repeat this kind of behavior. Hence, normalize letting people know the consequences of infringing your boundaries.

mental boundaries

Guilt Tripping Over Creating Boundaries - “I feel so guilty when I set a boundary!”

We often tend to beat ourselves up for creating boundaries with our loved ones because to some it may seem like we are purposely trying to break the relationship or move further away, right? In reality, establishing a healthy boundary does not mean one is being selfish or trying to hurt the other person. It’s in fact, just the opposite. An effective boundary is like drawing a plan around who can enter your space and time. If a friend invited me to a party but I had to stay in and study for an important exam, I have the right to say NO, and not feel guilty about it. That is a healthy boundary I am creating for myself because I know my priorities at that moment.

Do boundaries make me rude?

NO! Boundaries, in fact, reflect your authenticity

It is often said that setting boundaries means breaking the relationship altogether. There is tension, guilt, insecurity, and the other person might tend to get passive-aggressive during the process. However, the lesser-known fact is that creating a boundary means building a long-term bond with your loved ones which will make you feel happier in that relationship in the long run.

If someone constantly tries to barge into your personal space and tries to break open that door you built for your house, you are likely to resent them in some way or the other. This ultimately will create resentment in your relationship with them. If only you clearly set your boundaries right, you are immediately creating more authentic relations since your clarity regarding your priorities reflect your most authentic self.

However, keeping the current scenario of Covid 19 in mind, it becomes quite difficult to maintain healthy mental and emotional boundaries. Let me state some tips that might make it easier for you to be available for your loved ones while practicing physical distancing.

  • Clearly defining your boundaries since the beginning is always a healthy way to go about it. Address your own feelings and moods, and let your loved ones know when you are feeling too overwhelmed to be available for them.
  • It is a two way street. Ask your loved ones what their boundaries look like and make sure you do not infringe their space either.
  • Everyone is experiencing stressors at this point in time. However, you can only control yours. Honor your feelings, set your boundaries and stick to them.
  • Lastly, it is okay to say ‘No’, if you are not up for a chat with your loved ones. However, make sure to set your boundaries with compassion and kindness.

Both you and them are equal participants in the relationship and are giving just how much you need to give and saying ‘No’ exactly when you are supposed to.

Thus, to sum it up, creating boundaries simply means creating authentic, deeper relationships, especially with the people you care about, to avoid long-term disappointment and/ or resentment.

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Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

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