Setting Boundaries: The Key to Protecting Your Self-Esteem

Every human being is in any kind of relationship, whether it is friendship, Dating relationship, co-workers relationship or even a relationship that you have with families. And this relationship has a way of disturbing your mental health or making it better.
Setting boundaries is a very important factor, if you want to be at peace with yourself and avoiding when people do things that you don’t like. When you set boundaries for yourself, it prevents people walking over you or taking advantage of you unconsciously or consciously.
Boundaries are those guidelines you put out there for yourself and others especially.

What are Personal Boundaries?

Personal boundaries are essentially the limits and rules that a person sets for themselves in order to protect their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. They help to create healthy relationships and interactions with others, and can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. Boundaries can be about anything, such as physical space, privacy, time, communication, and emotional energy.
Personal boundaries are understanding when to say no, when to shut up and when to call someone out. For example, a person might set a boundary around not answering work emails after a certain time at night, or they might set a boundary around only sharing few personal information with a friend or close friends.
There are different kinds of boundaries, which are: physical, Emotional and Mental.

Physical: Physical boundaries are all about a person’s personal space and body, and they can help to protect one’s sense of safety and independence. Examples of physical boundaries could include not allowing others to touch you without permission, not tolerating jokes or comments about your appearance, or not letting someone borrow your belongings without asking first, not letting friends visit without informing you first. Physical boundary is telling someone you didn’t like the joke they said about you. It’s all about letting them know you don’t like this.

Mental: Mental boundaries refer to the boundaries that a person sets around their thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. These boundaries can protect a person’s mental health and prevent them from being overwhelmed by the thoughts and opinions of others. Which entails that it’s not everything someone says about you or comments that your friends make about you that you should carry to your thoughts. Examples of mental boundaries could include choosing not to engage in arguments about topics that are sensitive or triggering, not allowing others to pressure you into thinking or believing something that goes against your own values, or not allowing others to dismiss or minimize your ideas or beliefs. Not allowing someone’s opinion of you to make you who you’re not.

Emotional boundaries: In a general sense, emotional boundaries refer to the process of identifying, understanding, and accepting your own emotions, as well as setting limits on how others can affect your emotions. This can involve recognizing when someone is trying to manipulate your emotions, establishing clear limits on how much emotional energy you give to others, and being aware of your own emotional triggers.
This is a great example of an emotional boundary. When you love someone who doesn’t love them back, you may be tempted to pour all your emotional energy into that person, without any reciprocation. This can be emotionally draining and lead to feelings of frustration and resentment. Setting an emotional boundary in this situation could involve acknowledging the situation, accepting that the other person’s feelings are out of your control, and focusing on your own emotional well-being. This could involve withdrawing some of your emotional energy from the relationship and investing it in yourself, and perhaps finding other people who can reciprocate your love and affection.

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Image from Thrive Global

Signs of Weak Boundaries

Some signs of weak boundaries can include:

  1. Being overly concerned with others’ opinions or approval, and feeling overly responsible for their feelings.
  2. Having difficulty saying “no” to others and setting limits on what you’re willing to do.
  3. Having a hard time recognizing and expressing your own needs and feelings
  4. Being overly critical or judgmental of others, or feeling easily offended by others’ actions or words.
  5. Having difficulty setting and maintaining clear personal and professional boundaries.
  6. Having difficulty asserting yourself or standing up for yourself.

Recognizing when Boundaries are lacking:

Recognizing when your boundaries are lacking can be difficult, but there are some signs you can look for:

  1. You feel like you’re constantly giving in to others, or giving more than you’re getting in return.
  2. You find yourself people-pleasing, or trying to please others at the expense of your own well-being.
  3. You find yourself being taken advantage of, or feeling resentful because you feel taken for granted.
  4. You feel exhausted, or you lack time and energy for yourself.
  5. You feel out of control of your own life and feel like others have more influence over your decisions than you.

Effects of Weak Boundaries on Self Esteem

Weak boundaries can have a negative impact on a person’s self esteem and confidence, in a few different ways:

  1. They can cause a person to feel like they are not worthy of setting boundaries or asserting their own needs and feelings.
  2. They can lead to a person feeling like they are not good enough, or not “enough” in general.
  3. They can cause a person to feel like they have no control over their own life and that others are in control of their decisions.
  4. They can lead to a person feeling like they have to constantly prove themselves or seek external validation.
  5. They can cause a person to feel anxious or depressed, as a result of feeling out of control or overextended.
  6. They can lead to a person feeling insecure in their relationships, because they may feel like they have to constantly bend over backwards to please others.
  7. They can cause a person to feel isolated and disconnected from others, because they may feel like they can’t be themselves around others.
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Common challenges in setting and maintaining Boundaries.

There are a few common challenges people face when setting and maintaining healthy boundaries:

  1. Fear of rejection: Some people may be afraid of setting boundaries, because they worry that others will react negatively and reject them.
  2. Guilt: People may feel guilty for setting boundaries, because they worry that they’re being selfish or putting themselves first.
  3. Ambivalence (Doubt): Some people may be unsure of what their boundaries should be, or how to go about setting them. They may feel ambivalent about whether to set boundaries, and may worry about the consequences of doing so.
  4. Lack of self-awareness: Some people may not fully understand themselves and their own needs. They don’t know if others are violating their boundaries, or if they should have one.
Image from MomJunction

Benefits of Setting Boundaries

  1. Protecting mental and emotional health
  2. Enhancing self-worth and self-confidence
  3. Improving relationships and communication

When you take your time to understand yourself, what you need as a person. Your likes and dislikes, it will help you to set boundaries that will be beneficial to you.
When you set boundaries, you won’t be taken advantage of. Because you know you don’t like something, so you say it out.
You won’t have so much resentment. When people are looking down on you, you will know. When you are not doing anything about it you will also know, leading to resentment.
Another benefit is that you will be a happy person. Because understanding your self worth is a road to happiness. No one is taking advantage of you and you are just fine.

Identifying your Boundaries

  1. i. Reflecting on personal values, needs, and limits
  2. ii. Recognizing situations where boundaries are needed
  3. iii. Examining past experiences to inform boundary-setting

Identifying one’s boundaries can be a process of self-reflection and introspection. It may involve asking oneself questions such as:

  • What are my personal values? What is important to me?
  • What do I need in order to feel respected, supported, and fulfilled?
  • What are my limits in terms of what I can give and do for others?
  • What situations tend to trigger me, and what boundaries do I need to set in those situations?
  • How do I want others to treat me, and what do I not want them to do?
  • How do I feel when I assert myself

Identifying situations where boundaries are needed can involve being aware of one’s physical, emotional, and mental state in different situations. Some signs that a boundary may be needed include:

  1. Feeling stressed or overwhelmed
  2. Feeling a loss of control or personal power
  3. Feeling resentful or taken advantage of
  4. Feeling frustrated, angry, or tired
  5. Experiencing anxiety or depression
  6. Noticing a disconnect between one’s words and actions
  7. Noticing that others are disrespecting or disregarding one’s feelings
  8. Being constantly asked to give more than one can give.
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Establishing Boundaries

Being specific about boundaries means being clear and detailed about what the boundaries are and how they should be respected. For example, instead of just saying “I need more time to myself,” it’s helpful to specify what that means, such as “I need at least one night a week where I can be alone and not have any social obligations.” Or, instead of just saying “I need you to respect my personal space,” it’s helpful to specify what that looks like, such as “Please don’t come into my room without knocking.”
When establishing boundaries, it’s important to be prepared for questions or concerns from others. They may not understand why you’re setting a boundary, or they may push back against it. Being prepared with clear, respectful responses can help to diffuse potential conflict and maintain your boundaries.

Image from Tiny Buddha

Maintaining Boundaries

Maintaining boundaries requires consistency and assertiveness. It’s not enough to just communicate the boundary once – you need to consistently uphold it. This may mean repeating yourself or reminding others of the boundary, and not giving in to pressure or manipulation. For example, if someone keeps entering your room without knocking after you’ve asked them not to, you can say something like “I know you may not understand why this is important to me, but it’s a boundary I’ve set and I expect you to respect it.” If the behavior continues, you may need to take further steps to enforce the boundary. Like asking the individual to stop coming into your room or just locking your door.

Dealing with Boundary Violation

Boundary violations can be frustrating and upsetting, but it’s important to address them in a calm and assertive way. When someone violate, it’s your boundary, it is helpful to respond in a clear and direct manner. For example, if someone shares information you’ve asked them not to share, you could say “I’ve asked you not to share that information, and I’m upset that you did. Please don’t do that again.” If the boundary violation is repeated, you may need to take further action, such as limiting contact with that person or ending the relationship.
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that setting boundaries is not about being selfish or pushing people away – it’s about establishing healthy and respectful relationships.

Written by Favour Awana

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