Do you have that one person who just stresses you out? Who is difficult to be around and challenges your mental/emotional state? Maybe it’s a friend, a sibling, a coworker, your Mother, Mother-in-law, or another relative. Have you tried to just grit your teeth when you are around them, but find yourself completely stressed out and distraught when you are around them anyway? Maybe it is time to talk about establishing some boundaries. Yes, I said it, boundaries. The word boundary often has a negative connotation to it, “it seems mean/cruel” or you think, “there is no way boundaries will work with so-and-so.” I am challenging you to give boundaries a try.
Boundaries are so important when it comes to relationships, and with establishing and maintaining healthy relationships with others. When we do not have boundaries, we are exposing ourselves to emotional and mental distress that can be avoided. Boundaries can mean limiting the amount of time we spend with certain someone, limiting the topics you discuss with certain people, or attending only a certain amount of family gatherings per month.
For example, maybe you have a relative who always seems to call you when they need something. And, there you go again, bending over backward time-and-time again for this relative because “you don’t want to be mean” or because you “feel bad.” However, this throws off your day and your routine, and now you are stressed out. And then it happens again in two days, and there you go bending over backward. And the cycle continues.
Maybe you have a Mother-in-law who insists on coming over randomly for dinner without notice, but you just don’t know how to tell her no. And you are stuck feeling helpless, frustrated, and stressed because it interferes with your plans, again-and-again. So, how do I do it? How do I establish boundaries?
Establishing boundaries starts with identifying who you need to establish boundaries with and why. In my examples above, a good boundary would be telling your relative that you can only be available to help them out 1 or 2 days/week, and you must be specific to which days those will be. Sure, you might get a call from them needing something on a different day than you established; and this is where you gently and empathetically let them know that you cannot on that day (and refer to the day/s that you can). It is important to be firm on this boundary so that your relative will understand and in due-time, will get the hint. Another example of a healthy boundary could be having a conversation with your Mother-in-law letting her know which days she is invited to come over for dinner, and sticking to that boundary no matter what.
Boundaries are not easy, but they are necessary. And boundaries require consistency in effort, in order to become established. Once you have established your boundaries with certain individuals, you will feel more in control of your life and will experience less stress as a result. When it comes to boundaries, we must always remember our intent; our intent with boundaries is to protect ourselves and our emotional wellbeing. Remember, boundaries are not punishment for the other person, they are a skill that helps protect you.
If you feel that you may benefit from establishing boundaries in your life, give it a try and let me know how it goes via email or comment on insta. Best of luck!