What are Boundaries? Personal boundaries are certain measures in terms of limits and rules that we set or have for ourselves within different relationships.
These limits could be, but not limited to, physical boundaries (exercising control over who touches you), mental borders (things you tolerate mentally which others don’t), emotional boundaries (limits on how much emotion can be shared), personal boundaries (limits on how much of yourself you share, or what topics are not discussed) and spiritual borders (where your personal faith is).
Healthy boundaries protect us from toxic relationships, manipulation, and emotional abuse.
Either personal or social these types of boundaries in relationships provide a guideline on how we want people to treat us.
Let me just Illustrate this with my own story and how I managed to set some healthy personal boundaries.
I really love Mondays….. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, it’s weird right!. But I do love them because it’s the moment when I get to bond with Jesus, relax, chill, and just put my legs up after a very long week.
Putting my mind into what the week presents and the busy hustle of work. After this hustle and bustle. Mondays is when I get to unwind by doing nothing, eating, watching movies, and hanging out with my husband.
Usually, I end the day with a long shower.
I enjoy taking steps towards self-care, thinking of it as an enjoyable process. I try to focus on scrubbing my face, body, and especially the neglected areas like my elbows and heels of my toes which are underrepresented in care.
My bathing process would include washing off my turmeric scrub that you can find on Amazon. This includes using shampoo and conditioner to care for every strand of my hair. I tend to focus more on every corner of my body that would otherwise not receive much attention during the week. My face process ends with a hyaluronic face mask then makes my skin feel soft, buttery, and glowing for the rest of the week.
The most important personal boundary that I have is the time I spend with Jesus which I treasure a lot: This is by far the most important time of my week. My primary motivation is a Bible Verse in the book of Matthew. If you have never read this verse before or you’re not a Christian I suggest you try it out.
Matthew 6:33 says: Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these other things shall be added unto you! ~Paraphrased
If you’re thinking of setting healthy boundaries either personal or in your relationships my advice to you would be to put God first. I am convinced that taking God’s word as a priority is the most important decision anyone can make. And when we talk about boundaries especially in Christian relationships this is a deal-breaker.
We will not go in-depth on the scripture today however I will do an in-depth exegesis of this verse later in another blog post. But for now, let’s talk about Personal Boundaries and how you can set them.
Setting Personal Boundaries
We said earlier that Personal boundaries are limits, guard rails that protect us from people taking advantage of us. How did I start taking Mondays so seriously in terms of self-pampering? Well here are a few steps to help you know how you too can set personal boundaries in your life:
Step 1: Know who you are as a person
You can get to know yourself by understanding your rhythm. Everyone has rhythms. Ask yourself this question.
What do I really love to do and enjoy without struggling or having to think about it? What is important to me and how am I willing to protect it.
It may be that you love being healthy. For some, you prefer when someone speaks to you gently and find it disrespectful when someone talks to you harshly.
It may be that you enjoy your private space and when someone comes into that or tries to take that away from you then you feel violated.
Knowing yourself does these three things:
- It helps you be self-aware.
- This leads to self-assurance.
- It boasts your self-esteem which leads to self-confidence.
This shows that you are responsible for yourself. You love yourself and would love to protect that at all costs.
Step 2: Believe and trust in yourself
Sometimes when a person has gotten to know who they are, they get to leave it at that and not do anything about it. However, after you have gotten to know yourself, we recommend that you work through the process of getting to believe and trust in what you now know about yourself.
‘As a man thinks, so is he’ in Proverbs 23:7?”
Since there is the confidence of stepping out of your comfort zone then you can start to embrace other people while maintaining your own personal boundaries.
For example, if someone is to ask you to be an administrator in a company and you know that, that’s something you hate, then its easy to turn it down and look for something else that you believe would bring out your personality, passion, purpose and also help you be a better person.
Step 3: Evaluate and review your behaviors and actions
Get to sit down and journal if you can, or look inwardly by setting time to actually be in touch with yourself, then go through what has been working in terms of how you respond to other people, what you talk about with other people, how you respond to danger, to anger, bitterness, hate or even hurt.
Watch your behavior patterns and see whether you need a personal boundary. For example, maybe every time someone tells you to do something for them even if they ask politely, it is hurtful to you or makes you feel the person does not value you. Probably it’s a place to ask yourself the question: Is it what they said or how they said it or is it that there is a struggle of pride that you need to deal with or it is an unhealthy boundary that you have grown with over time and now that has to change.
What evaluation and reviewing does is that it helps you track yourself, track your habits, track how you respond, and act and now give you a direction of what personal boundaries you would need to start developing.
Step 4: Saying No is a complete and sensible sentence
The biggest challenge that people mostly have is the fact that they actually cannot and will not say no because it seems too far stretched for them, it looks like self-guilt, friendships and relationships would be at risk, no one would like you, you would miss out on life or some think that it’s just not a culture thing.
Well sorry to burst your bubble but, the best way of creating personal boundaries is being intentional in saying more no’s than yes because then it would help you reduce on stress, reduce on overcommitting, reduce on over-promising, and under-delivering.
Saying no also helps you be more in control with yourself, respect yourself and also be honest with the person that would want to pressure you to go with what they want you to do even if it’s something you really do not want to do or even hate doing. Saying no may seem too harsh but in the end, it saves you from doing things that you know may not have time for and you are more in control of your time.
What are examples of personal boundaries?
Different people as I have come to realize are constantly asking themselves the question of do I really need personal boundaries? And what are these boundaries? How do they really help me in the long run?
Well here are some of the examples of different boundaries that people have and I shall categorize them in the following way: Physical, Emotional, Social and Spiritual
These are boundaries that you set as a person to help you get to protect yourself in terms of what you eat, how you care for your body, and also whether or not you exercise. One person may love their health in such a way that they would want to register for gym classes because they know how they feel and would want to keep themselves fit hence if someone is to tell them to just sit and relax, it seems too farfetched for them because they would want to exercise.
Another person may feel as though getting a health check every three months is a personal boundary for them and for someone else theirs may be that they only need to go to the hospital when they are sick. Some people choose that they would like to eat only plant-based foods and others feel that they would want to eat animal and plant-based foods as a mix.
One may feel going to the spa and doing a manicure in a salon is the best way to do self-care while others feel, just Do It Yourself (DIY) is the best way. At the end of it all each person sees their boundaries as quite clear and very well thought through and the one thing you have to do is to respect, honor, appreciate and see the best in what someone else feels is a personal boundary.
Our emotional being is quite important when creating boundaries and someone may argue that that only belongs to women but in a real sense, both genders need emotional boundaries. These boundaries come in different ways for different people.
For someone when you speak to them in a high tonal voice, it bothers them and hence they try to speak up and utter it before the person actually speaks to them, and sometimes it may be due to an experience they have had.
For some people, it may be that they just want to cry once something traumatic has happened and see it as a space to release it. To that person, getting to cry solves issues while someone else visiting a counselor frequently keeps them in check with their emotions while someone else may not really believe in counselors.
For one person probably dealing with anger, grief, hate, bitterness, resentment or rage is through journaling and taking some time away from people and that’s how they see it fit while for another person is immersing themselves into work.
All this information about someone else would help you understand how to care for the other person’s emotions and respect them so that you also love how you deal with your emotions by maintaining each other are boundaries.
As human beings, we are all social beings and we love people differently and even relate with them differently and this comes with different boundaries from different people. Social boundaries help and individual set rules and limits to protect themselves from being violated or abused or manipulated or mistreated. These social boundaries would include friendships and other relationships. Someone might feel awesome when they are listened to, appreciated, celebrated, encouraged, prayed for, and even cared for.
All these for that person are social boundaries when they have to constantly make someone feel that way. However, when a relationship or friendship becomes a give and never receiving a sense of resentment can occur that would lead to a person feeling as though they are not valued. Therefore when creating social boundaries, it’s to ask yourself: When I feel undervalued, I flee from the relationship, speak up, or actually deal with it by getting into conversations with that person.
The other aspect of social boundaries is the aspect of one being able to think through relationships that benefit them and those that don’t and also what can they do when that does not happen. We do understand how we should relate or love others and sometimes it may mean asking yourself which relationships are too toxic to continue relating but loving them from afar. As you think through social boundaries think of what do you feel works best for you as a person and how can you keep at that.
These are boundaries that govern your spiritual part of life. This might mean your religion. Some people have a relationship with God and they love it, others just don’t like the idea of why they go to church or the importance to others they self-meditate and see that it’s a personal spiritual boundary. For others, it may mean journaling every day and reading the word of God to add value in their spiritual lives.
When one understands why they value what they value in terms of the benefits that their spirituality adds to their lives then they start to create and put boundaries in place. For example, for me as a person, I desire to get closer to Jesus, and hence I would work on the spiritual disciplines that I value and keep on creating boundaries for them to allow that I have time for them.
I would enjoy this time because I understand the importance as well as I love the experience that I get from being connected to Jesus. Someone else may actually not see that and not create a boundary around it which becomes difficult in the process.
Why are all these boundaries important in our lives?
Personal Boundaries may look like an electric fence that you can’t go over because it has restricted you from experiencing something that you would have missed out on. However, healthy boundaries are quite important, and here is why:
- They help you be unapologetically yourself. It creates a better to respect yourself and see your worth without feeling as though you have to live a life that someone else would otherwise present to you.
- It helps stop the comparison. When we have boundaries in our lives we are able to live at our best, love ourselves in the process and not really see why you have to live someone else’s life. It also keeps you in your lane. You end up focusing on what you had spoken to someone else about your life and not see the need to compare or see someone else’s life as more fulfilling or worth than yours. You end up focusing on what your goals are, how you can achieve them and at the end Mind your own business.
- It brings about lots of freedom. The fact that you can tell someone No and not feel guilty at all shows that you have healthy boundaries. Freedom from within gives on joy and you end up not feeling like you are selfish in any way. You become more responsible for you as a person. You also end up not seeing the need of pleasing someone else. Freedom liberates one to have confidence in what they are doing and see it as something significant in their lives.
- It conquers fear. Usually, when one does not have any boundaries, they end up consuming whatever may be or whatever they find and feel good about it because they have not crossed or been in loggerheads with anyone. It ends up being more of doing things out of fear and not necessarily because you want to do it. If you are in an abusive relationship, then not laying down the boundaries can leave you in that state due to the fear of not speaking up which can crush you even more. Boundaries help you have faith over fear because you are confident and love you for you as you love others for them.
- It helps one have focus and direction. Boundaries when not clearly stated and brought out can lead to a lack of direction and even blurs vision. This is because one ends up accepting too much on them, carrying other people’s’ burdens, creates a space to suffer in silence. However, when one had healthy boundaries in their lives, it’s quite easy for them to know what they need to do, how to get there, and even gives them a sense of direction in their lives.