“If someone throws a fit because you set a boundary, it’s just more evidence the boundary is needed.” – Unknown.
If you’re feeling exhausted and overcome by the obligations and expectations of everyday life, you’re not alone. And it’s not because we can’t cope with the same things our parents did; our culture has become infinitely more demanding. Having a real-world life and a concurrent digital life has also taken the agitations, frustrations and exasperations of “not keeping up” to a higher level of pervasion.
We will not thrive, let alone survive, if we don’t put boundaries in place. We relinquish control whenever we allow someone or something to take advantage of our space. Our team recently read a great post on Instagram that broke down seven areas where we can begin to reclaim control and choose healthy boundaries for ourselves. And a bonus is that as we start to do this for ourselves, we will encourage others to do the same for themselves.
Here are the seven:
Mental boundaries help us create the freedom to have our thoughts, values and opinions. Typically, with this boundary in place, we would say something like: “I respect your opinion although I do not agree.”
Emotional boundaries set how available we are to others. With this in mind, we might respond: “I would like to support you right now, but I don’t have the emotional capacity to take that on.”
Material boundaries (or financial boundaries) typically refer to monetary decisions around giving or lending money to others. With these boundaries in place, we can comfortably say things like: “I agreed to assist you for a few months, but I’m no longer in a position to keep offering you financial support.”
Internal boundaries enable us to regulate the energy that we spend on ourselves vs the energy that we expend on others. It could look like this: “I’ve spent the last three weekends accommodating and entertaining friends and family; this weekend, I’m taking for myself to relax and read.”
Conversational boundaries are helpful when there are subjects that we don’t wish to get involved in because we know that we will spiral or negatively impact our mental health. When these boundaries are pushed, we can say something like: “I would rather not be part of this conversation.”
Physical boundaries are great to teach our kids, and the adults in their lives at the same time! They are about autonomy over our bodies and personal space, for example: “I’d rather not hug people that I don’t know.”
Time boundaries are possibly some of the toughest to enforce in our digital worlds and perhaps the most important! At the start of a meeting, we can let people know that we only have 30 minutes available, or we can turn off notifications from our texts and emails to focus on the time allocated to productivity or creative activities.
If we don’t set boundaries, we will struggle with direction and action for the things we value most. We will also use precious energy on people and activities that are not that important to us and not have enough energy left for those that are.