What Are Boundaries?

Boundaries are lines or limits that can be set for someone to feel comfortable in their personal space. Those limits can be mental, physical, and/or emotional but are different for every person. Boundaries can be a way to protect your well-being around others. It may sound simple, but sometimes it can be hard to set those limits or rules and express them to others.

This is especially difficult during the holiday season.

Why are boundaries important?

Boundaries are a way to give everyone a sense of security when it comes to their personal space. The relationships around you can be difficult to navigate sometimes because of the different opinions and perspectives from those around you. Having boundaries can be guidelines that show others how you would like to be treated in certain interactions. As a Black therapist in Atlanta, I know that creating healthy boundaries can help cultivate healthy relationships. They can also help to diminish feelings of manipulation, invalidation of your feelings, or even just simply feeling uncomfortable.

How to set boundaries

The first step in creating boundaries is really taking a moment to check in with yourself and figuring out what is important to you and what you are needing. 

Here are some feelings that may indicate it’s time to set a few boundaries for yourself, especially if you notice these feelings come up in particular situations or around certain people:

  • Feeling  drained
  • Feeling stressed
  • Feeling irritable 
  • Being restless or jumpy

These are just a few indicators that your body might give you letting you know it might be a good time to set a few boundaries for yourself.

Examples of Setting Boundaries

Boundaries can be set in your personal life and in your professional life. Here are some examples of some healthy boundaries:

Before Setting a Boundary: it’s late, but yeah, I can still hangout.

Setting a Boundary, knowing you are already tired: It’s late. Let’s hang out tomorrow instead.

Before Setting a Boundary: I’m supposed to only work until 5 today, but I’m sure I can stay for 15 more minutes to finish it up for you.

Setting a Boundary to protect your personal time: I only work until 5 today. I will finish this up for you tomorrow morning when I come back in.

Before Setting a Boundary: *Having a heated conversation with a friend or family member*

Setting a Boundary: I don’t appreciate the tone you are taking with me right now. I will be happy to finish this conversation when we both aren’t feeling wound up, but for right now I am going to walk away.

Before Setting a Boundary: *A friend or family member comes over to your home unannounced*

Setting a Boundary: I appreciate you wanting to come see me. In the future please just give me a call before you come over next time. Thank you.

Setting boundaries can look and feel very different for each person, but they are there to protect yourself and your well-being. It’s especially important during the holiday season when there can be added stress, expectation and anxiety. It may be difficult at first to set some boundaries with your loved ones, especially if they are not used to you speaking up. 

If you would like support with understanding some boundaries you need to set, as well as how to communicate to your loved ones, help is available. As a reminder, never put yourself in a dangerous position. If communicating boundaries to some people close to you makes you feel unsafe, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a therapist in Atlanta first.