Have you ever committed to an appointment, knowing it will be difficult for you to make it? Or have you ever agreed to take up extra tasks, despite knowing that you do not have the bandwidth to accommodate it? Have you ever found yourself constantly putting others’ needs above your own?
We all have heard about boundaries, and how setting boundaries is crucial to self-care and in building healthy relationships with yourself, your work, your family, peers, and others. In this blog, let’s look at what boundaries are, and how they are beneficial.
What are boundaries?
How do you know if you need to work on your boundaries?
Do you relate to any of these?
Unable to say no to others at the expense of your safety or convenience
Feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities often
Refuse/Unable to seek help from others
Often feeling burned out
If you resonate with any of the above, it might be a sign to re-evaluate your boundaries with work or relationships. Take a moment to reflect - where do you think you need to set these boundaries? What is holding you back from doing so?
Here are some examples of setting boundaries:
The boundaries you set with others :
Eg: Telling your children to knock before entering your room during work hours
Asking for help from your spouse with the housework to enable you to focus on your own personal goals
The boundaries you set with your work:
Eg: Discouraging discussions about personal information or talking about others
Limiting your working hours during the day
The boundaries you set with yourself:
Setting a budget for your expenses
Going to bed by 11PM
So, what can we do to set healthy boundaries?
Here are a few steps to define your boundaries:
1. Understand yourself and your limits:
Take some time to understand what causes you stress/discomfort during your day. What tasks make you feel uneasy? What interactions make you feel anxious? Why does it make you feel that way?
Note down what makes you feel calm and stress-free, and look into these situations to understand what would make you feel more comfortable.
2. Define your hard boundaries and your soft boundaries
Hard boundaries are those that are completely non-negotiable, and soft boundaries are those you prefer to keep but have flexibility.
Once you understand these, you can gain more clarity on taking the next step to communicate and maintain your boundaries.
For example, a hard boundary could be “I will not take up jobs that require me to work a night shift.”
A soft boundary could be “I would like to leave the office by 4:30 PM, but I am flexible and can make arrangements to stay in for another hour if the need arises.”
Be clear and express your boundaries as well as when your boundaries are violated. Avoid giving hints or subtleties - be clear and firm and explain your needs and constraints. Remember, it may not be under your control if people listen to your boundaries, but it is in your hands to communicate your needs effectively.
Here are some examples of communicating your boundaries effectively:
“I appreciate the offer, but I am at capacity right now and will not be able to commit to another project being added under me”
“Sorry, I will not be able to make it this time, maybe next time.”
4. Learn to Say No
If you want to establish and maintain your boundaries, you have to learn to turn down tasks or requests that cross them. Saying no can be difficult - take time to understand why it makes you feel uncomfortable or guilty, and try to reflect on how you would feel if you protected that particular boundary.
5. Be Consistent
This allows you to reinforce your needs and demands and makes sure no confusion or miscommunications arise between people.
6. Respect the boundaries of others!
Make sure to also be mindful of others’ boundaries - after all, healthy relationships are formed through mutual understanding. Take a moment to reflect - have you ever crossed someone else’s boundaries?
Remember, boundaries are necessary if you want to live life on your own terms, without being pressured or influenced by others. Only you can build and protect your well-being, and setting boundaries gives you the power to find the freedom and courage to design your own journey!
About the Author
Meghana Ganesh is a Community Manager at Her Second Innings. She is a Computer Science Graduate with a passion for women’s empowerment and equality, and diversity hiring in organizations.
Her Second Innings supports women professionals on a sabbatical in their journey of getting back to work. The mission of HSI is to guide women to achieve financial independence. Support from HSI comes in the form of job interviews, reskilling programs in Automation, and, free Career Guidance Counselling. Sign up with us and complete your profile to get a call from our counselors to know your job fit.
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