A close friend of mine recently posted something on her WhatsApp status about setting healthy boundaries, and it motivated me to write this article.
The past few months has been filled with lots of ‘re-discovery’ activities for me because I have had moments where I bombarded myself with lots of questions, thus leading me on a journey of self-discovery. Reading articles, watching videos on YouTube, and discussing with close friends and family, has helped me a lot on this journey of mine.
One of the vital lessons learned so far is SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES. This is very important for self-care. I have also learned to take responsibility for most things that happens to me (when dealing with humans) because I am aware that it is in my power to allow certain things: how people treat me, how people talk to me, etc. It is when you give people the opportunity to talk to/treat you anyhow, that is when they do. So to a large extent, you can actually control certain things by allowing only what you want to allow.
Boundaries simply means when there is a physical or emotional space between you and another person. Why the term ‘healthy’ is added to boundaries, is because it is very important for your physical and mental health. You need to know what to allow into your physical/emotional space. It is not everyone that should be allowed into your personal space (please note that this can be psychological too). For example, there are some friends that are allowed into your bedroom when they come visiting, while some friends are limited to just the sitting room area. Same thing applies to your emotional/psychological space. If you do not protect your space by setting boundaries, some people will enter that space and mess it up for you. Some people only have the power to function based on the level of freedom you give them.
Let me give some other examples: if someone has the habit of calling you by 11pm and you keep taking the call even though it is not convenient for you, it will keep happening. But if after you have told the person that you do not entertain calls from 9pm and the person still continues to call by 11pm, when you do not answer such calls, the person will stop after a while because he already knows that no matter how many times he calls by 11pm, you will definitely not take his call.
Another example of setting boundaries is when you tell your kids to always knock and wait for a response before entering your bedroom. Also in the workplace, if a colleague of yours is fond of hugging you and it makes you uncomfortable, you can let the person know how you feel and then you can decide to settle for a handshake as a form of greeting instead of a hug. The examples are endless…
But in summary, setting boundaries is a very important aspect of life and an essential self-care practice. It is necessary for your well-being and mental health. Do not give people the opportunity to come into your space and mess it up. You need to protect your space (physical, emotional, psychological, financial, etc.) at all times! If it is your first time of setting boundaries, you might feel guilty at the beginning but trust me, it is for your own good. Learning to say no is another way of setting boundaries. (I have previously written on learning to say no). So do not feel bad when you say no to something that is against your morals, beliefs, faith, or anything that may really inconvenience you. Set those boundaries today and see how less complicated your life will be.