“I’m going to build a wall!”
Who out there likes to make people feel good? Are you a giver?
If you found yourself putting your hand up, you’re not alone. Too many of us grew up being told that that we should help others and show kindness.
While these are great qualities, it can often lead to wondering why people often dump extra work onto you, why family just turn up and intrude without notice, and why friends take advantage of us. Maybe it’s because we haven’t learned how to build healthy boundaries.
What Are Boundaries?
Think of personal boundaries as like fences - they create a barrier between us and other people within our lives. There are a number of different types of boundaries that we can have in our lives:
Material boundaries – these help us determine how we share or give material items with others, eg money.
Physical boundaries – this is in relation to our body, our personal space and also our privacy. How do you feel about a hug – with someone you know, compared to a stranger?
Mental boundaries – these apply to your values, your opinions and also your thoughts. Are you able to listen to someone else’s opinion without getting judgmental or defensive? If you become highly emotional during this time, it may be due to weaker emotional boundaries.
Sexual boundaries – these protect us from sexual touch that may be outside of our comfort zone.
Spiritual boundaries – these relate to our beliefs around God or a higher power.
How to Build Healthy Boundaries
So how do we set stronger boundaries around people?
Start saying NO! This isn’t always easy as we often say yes as we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Although if you’ve ever seen the Jim Carrey movie “Yes Man”, then you can see that saying yes all the time can become overwhelming and exhausting.
It’s important to recognise that you don’t owe anyone your time and energy. That is yours to share as you see fit. Sometimes we may need to limit the time we give to others, as this could have repercussions on our own priorities and relationships.
It’s okay to be selfish at times. Often we forget to make sure our own cup is filled as we’re always giving to others. Take the time to enjoy those things that are meaningful to you.
Avoid negative people. You know the ones - the drainers, that take away your energy. Instead, spend more time with those who energize you.
Don’t feel guilty when you say no. Having a boundary around something isn’t a rejection; it’s about taking care of you. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care, it’s just you need to love and take care of yourself.
Be the person you want to be. Who is that? The more you become your authentic self, the more you’ll attract the people you want to spend more time with.
If you would like to learn how to build healthy boundaries, or have been struggling to maintain them because certain personalities in your life just don’t seem to be getting it, a psychologist has the skills and knowledge to help.
To book an appointment with a Gold Coast Psychologist, call our Southport office on (07) 5527 0123 or contact us via this website.