Whether it’s making demands on our family time, taking liberties in the workplace or simply passing comment on our parenting skills, there will always be those people that will overstep the mark and behave in a way that leaves us feeling a little uncomfortable. We’ve all been there, either in our personal or professional lives, and will recognise those feelings of helplessness and frustration that can unfortunately arise when certain boundaries are crossed.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, a boundary is ‘a real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something’ and when it comes to setting our own boundaries, these can be defined as a set of rules that are put in place to create a secure and safe environment for ourselves. Not only are they crucial to our wellbeing but they also dictate how we live our day to day lives and how we would like to be treated by those around us. They can take the form of emotional, physical, professional or financial limits and are specific to us as individuals – clearly what one person is willing to tolerate may not be acceptable to someone else, so how on earth do we ensure that those boundaries are healthy, adhered to by those around us and challenged when needed?
With the best will in the world, we can all strive to live our lives by a specific set of ‘guidelines’ but when those around us cross that imaginary line, it can be difficult to speak up and make our sentiments known. Instead, we can often be left with feelings of hurt, resentment and maybe anger and unsure of how to best move forward to ensure it doesn’t happen again. According to Positive Psychology, the best way to go about this is to be open and honest about our expectations from the outset and to communicate them clearly to those around us. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is setting boundaries in our minds without openly sharing them – how does someone know when they’ve crossed the line if they don’t know where our line lies to begin with?
It’s not terribly British to speak up, say ‘no’ and be direct, but by doing so, we are making an important statement to others as to how we would like to be treated and making it clear as to what kind of behaviour is unacceptable. It’s not selfish, rude or pushy to make these requests, it’s understanding that your feelings and opinions count, you know where your priorities sit and you’re simply making sure that those around you are on the same page. It may seem like a daunting task at first and not one that comes naturally to many of us but with a little practice, setting healthy and realistic boundaries can become an invaluable element of our self-care that allows us to stay true to our values and helps us to thrive both personally and professionally. So whether it’s sticking to your working hours, turning off those pesky WhatsApp notifications or learning to say ‘no’ a little more often, why not give it a try – your future self will most definitely thank you for it.