Choosing Happiness: Healthy Boundaries
One of the things that can directly impact our happiness is how healthy our boundaries are with ourselves and others.
What are boundaries? Simply put, boundaries are where I end, and you begin. Our boundaries can be physical, emotional/mental, and even be spiritual in nature. They are where we “draw the line”; clueing in others to our set of personal rules or terms for how we decide to treat others and how we expected to be treated. They serve to define our need (and right!) for space, safety, and protection and for freedom of thoughts, emotions, and actions. Boundaries give us a sense of personal sovereignty and can be a roadmap for navigating relationships, conversations, and other interactions.
What are the types of boundaries? Just like anything in life we can range from healthy to unhealthy. They can fall into four general buckets: Rigid Boundaries, No Boundaries, Partial Boundaries and Healthy Boundaries. Most of us work from one main bucket with splashes and smatterings from other buckets depending on our emotional state and circumstances.
Rigid Boundaries: Imagine this as an impenetrable fence or wall around our castle and our castle has no doors or windows or gates. Nothing can get in and nothing can get out. Kingdom of one. Rumor is other kingdoms call our kingdom “the jail”.
No Boundary: Our castle has no fence or even walls. This leaves us vulnerable and unprotected. Everything comes and goes without our approval. We do not actively work to keep ourselves emotionally, physically, or spiritually safe. In fact, I see someone stealing our horse right now. Oh well, it happens. We can just pull our own apple cart to the market tomorrow.
Partial Boundaries: Our castle has walls and probably a solid gate to get through the wall and into the castle, but our sentry is unreliable and sometimes leaves the gate unattended. Yep, the goats from the village just got in and ate all our veggies. And now they have left muddy hoof prints all over our new rug too.
Health Boundaries: We have a castle with doors, windows, and a gate in the surrounding wall. There is a wise and loyal sentry who lowers the gate when it’s safe and he sounds the alarm and closes the gate when it’s unsafe. One a nice day, we can open the windows for a pleasant breeze and welcome neighbors through our door when we want visitors. But when the weather is rough, or some shady-looking drifters approach we can close the windows, doors or gates. It’s the kind of kingdom that everyone wishes they lived in.
Sometimes we don’t even recognize that our unhealthy boundaries are a major source of our frustration and unhappiness. If we look at our boundaries and see weak spots, we can make changes so that we can learn to support and maintain healthy boundaries.
Components of healthy boundaries include:
- Taking time to know and understand who you are (a strong sese of identity).
- Showing yourself and others respect and dignity.
- Feeling free to say yes or no, without guilt, fear or anger.
- Refusing to tolerate abuse (physical, emotional/mental, or sexual), micro-aggressions and other forms of disrespect or indifference.
- Recognizing or understanding when a problem is yours or another person’s problem.
- Refusing to take on other’s problems.
- Sharing responsibility with others and expect reciprocity in relationships.
- Feeling freedom, security, peace, joy, and confidence. (yay!)
Keys to maintaining boundaries include:
- Practice saying “No”. “No” can be it is own sentence. Often, we offer reasons why we cannot or do not want to do something. Stop that. Practice saying no to:
- Support your needs
- Verbalize your needs
- Hedge your expectations of yourself, allowing for more realistic expectations
- Hedge your assumption of “others” expectations of you
- Reduce minimizing your needs—to yourself or others
- Practice letting go.
- Let go of your need to control things that are out of your control
- Allow people to fail
- Let go of any guilt of “owning” other’s emotions/thoughts/behaviors
- Practice listening to your intuitive knowing to clarify your needs for yourself and others.
- Understand and verbalize your needs and priorities
- Practice limit setting with yourself and others
- Ask yourself, “What can I gain”? by emotionally supporting my needs, instead worrying about other’s reactions
- Practice everything else 😊
- Practice being clear and direct
- Set aside time for self-care and relaxation
- Practice self-love and self-compassion
- Practice staying mentally flexibility- make adjustments along the way by being mindful of your needs
- Practice being in a state of peace
- Experience joy
- Practice gratitude
Remember we are typically not born with “healthy boundaries”, especially if our household growing up was chaotic or dysfunctional. But we can learn and practice healthy boundaries. When we consciously choose to embody healthy boundaries, we are Choosing Happiness.
If you need support or guidance with Healthy Boundaries or taking steps towards Choosing Happiness. Reach out to me and we will set up a call to see how we can work together.
For Counseling/ Therapy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or for Coaching/ Energy Work: email@example.com
Wishing you happiness and healthy boundaries!