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Boundaries and Wellbeing


Setting good boundaries is fundamental to creating healthy relationships, reducing depression & anxiety, improving self-worth, and boosting self-esteem. Boundaries have got to be there to protect your ‘self’ by setting a clear mark between what's "me" and what's "not me". Having loose (unhealthy) boundaries open the doors for others to dictate your feelings, thoughts, needs –even decisions.

Putting boundaries is among the best ways to preserve your emotional energy, promote personal wellbeing, and define how you want to be treated.

"If you want to live an authentic, meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others, hurting feelings, and living with the reality that some people just won't like you." –Cheryl Richardson*

What are boundaries?

According to Mariana Bockarova, PhD (in her article on Psychology Today), "Boundaries can be defined as the limits we set with other people, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behavior towards us. The ability to know our boundaries generally comes from a healthy sense of self-worth, or valuing yourself in a way that is not contingent on other people or the feelings they have toward you." Determining boundaries, therefore, is a process of defining behaviors you will accept from others and behaviors you will not allow.

Self-Esteem VS Self-Worth: Its Implications on Boundaries

Self-esteem is, generally, a subjective view of yourself based on other people's feedback. This is a gauge of your confidence and how much you like yourself. Self-worth, on the other hand, is finding intrinsic value in WHO you are. This value you put on yourself is gauged by your level of self-acceptance. The elements of self-worth (as related to personal boundaries) include:

  • Emotional worth & boundaries: you're entitled to your own feelings towards situations/events, as others are

  • Intellectual/mental worth & boundaries: you're entitled to your own opinions, views, and thoughts, as others are

  • Social worth & boundaries: you're entitled to pursuing your own social activities and having your own friends, as others are

  • Physical worth & boundaries: you're entitled to your own personal space no matter how wide or small it may be, as others are**

  • Spiritual worth & boundaries: you're entitled to your own beliefs in God (or absence thereof), as others are

  • Moral worth & boundaries: you're entitled to your own values and to express behaviors that align with them, as others are

  • Financial worth & boundaries: you're entitled to earning your own keep and to spending, saving, giving, & budgeting, as others are

  • Sexual worth & boundaries: you're entitled to be respected & valued -pertaining to sexual behaviors- and to experience intimacy, as others are

If you were raised in a family where your parents/caretakers were overly harsh with discipline (or overly permissive) it's highly likely ‘boundaries’ are a challenge for you. Experiencing childhood psychological and physical trauma is another cause for allowing unhealthy behaviors from others. It’s important to understand where your “boundaries model” originated –and equally important is to identify the typical signs of unhealthy behaviors.

Common Reasons for Weak Boundaries

o You were the "parentified" child/the caretaker. This was when your needs were put on hold since your role growing up was to take care of others' needs.

o You were not taught boundaries as a child. You may have become convinced you're not important when your needs and wants were not respected by your parents/family members/caretakers.

o You're always the "good guy"/"good girl". You're afraid of being seen as unkind, rude, or mean. You don't want to offend anyone, so you take on too much –even beyond your limit.*

Signs that your boundaries are being violated by another

  • you taking responsibility for their feelings

  • letting their feelings shape your own

  • sacrificing your own needs to prioritize and please them

  • blaming them for your own problems

  • you accepting responsibility for their problems

Strong boundaries actually protect your identity –as an individual– with the right to go for your preferences and make your own choices. This is your invisible force field and you're in charge of protecting it. As important as boundaries are, sadly, many have difficulty setting healthy boundaries consistently. What's more, it's even difficult to detect when your boundaries are already crossed. But, the worst thing is fearing the consequences when you decide to set them. So, it's best to practice staying in-tuned to your feelings to be able to identify and understand when your boundaries are being violated. You’ll know this when you feel:

  • discomfort

  • stress

  • anxiety

  • resentment

  • fear

  • guilt

This host of emotions is rooted from the feeling of taken advantage of, being ignored, and being unimportant. Try to remember the people who make you feel this way. Are these statements true when you're around them?

o I can't ask for what I need.

o I can't make my own decisions.

o I feel criticized.

o I simply can't say no.

o I feel responsible for their feelings.

o Their mood influences mine.

o I am often anxious/nervous/resentful around them.***

Having clear and good boundaries is ESSENTIAL to a balanced life, healthy relationship, and improved wellbeing. If you want to establish your own boundaries and need the help of a professional to reinforce your boundaries framework, you're welcome to contact JarvisHypnotherapy.

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