If you have a vague idea of what “boundaries” are but wouldn’t be able to explain the exact meaning to someone, this post is for you.
The reason I want to talk about boundaries is because I was featured on a podcast a couple weeks ago called the Outstanding Woman Leaders Podcast, and during the podcast I was asked about what my boundaries were like. This questions prompted my to dive a little deeper on what boundaries actually are and how they can be used to optimize your mental health.
So I went to Google and found a what I think is a really well written article on boundaries (Check it out here). The article states the definition of boundaries as “basic guidelines that people create to establish how others are able to behave around them.” It is also mentioned that boundaries can be physical (like when someone invades your personal bubble) and emotional (when someone asks you personal questions maybe you’re not comfortable with) and psychological (when you are the target of abuse).
First let’s talk about the things I don’t agree with, and then I’ll talk about another type of boundary I think is most important but is not mentioned in the article.
You might assume that other people — those you interact with — are automatically supposed to know what your boundaries are. Think about it, have you ever been somewhere and had someone stand near you and you did not like it. Or have you ever been asked something by someone and immediately thought “wow… I can’t believe they just asked me that…”
Assuming people can read your mind and assume what your boundaries are is not a good way to improve or maintain good mental health. Assuming people can read your mind is actually a cognitive distortion which an lead to a decline in mental health. You can learn cognitive distortions in the video below.
Expecting that other people should know your boundaries is basically like saying you don’t want to be held responsible for the way you respond to the world – you’d prefer other people change the way they interact with you instead of being upfront about the way you want to interact. Let’s keep in mind that if you do express your boundaries to someone and they don’t care, that’s probably not a person you want to spend your time around.
In the article, the author says we can’t always choose the people we want to spend time with, for example at work or even in school. And as a result, “We can feel uncomfortable or even violated if we interact with those who have poor boundaries.”
I think that’s making a huge assumption. You can’t just say somebody else has poor boundaries simply because their boundaries are different from yours. In fact I think what you need to do in life is expect that people will violate your personal boundaries, because if you can expect the boundaries being crossed, you can plan how to be resilient in that situation. That’s when your responsibility comes in to inform this person of your boundaries.
Boundaries are self-imposed. There are no written rules on how different boundaries should be created. Boundaries are created based on culture and personal preference. So you should not be “offended” when you someone unknowingly crosses your boundaries.
Of course there are certain psychological boundaries that are actually illegal or pre-established upon entering the workplace for example.
My advice when creating boundaries is they should always be values-based. Whether they are physical or emotional or psychological, really the boundaries all boil down to protecting and staying committed to what you value.
That said, let me share a recent experience where I had to enforce my personal values-based boundaries. I had someone reach out to me on Instagram not too long ago to ask if I wanted to be involved in a new project they are working on using the app called Tik Tok. I responded by saying I don’t use Tik Tok and won’t be using it in the future. Now let me explain how I created this values-base boundary as well as what I actually value.
If you guys have watched even one of my videos, read any of my posts, or realized what my website url is, you know I am all about retraining your brain. The values I hold dearly are doing certain activities and exercises to improve your daily habits – these commonly include focus, memory, attentions span, productivity, and resilient thought processes. Now, I understand that I can share informative videos on these topics on Tik Tok, but then I would be supporting a platform that delivers content in a way that minimizes your attention span and can create a dopamine addiction. So I would be talking about certain values on a platform that delivers content in a way that contradicts my values.
Because of the boundary I was able to say no to somebody else while still saying yes to myself – that is a quote I heard Jim Kwik say and it has stuck with me ever since. And that is something you should keep in mind when creating your values.
You can create boundaries by …
… simply identifying what you value in different aspects of your life – ask yourself, what does your idea of a healthy romantic relationship look like, or a working relationship, or a family relationship and so on. Figuring out the answer to this question will ultimately help you to say “yes” to yourself and live a fulfilling life.
If you guys found this post helpful don’t forget to share it with at least 1 friend. As always, I hope you have a great day and don’t forget to make this the #YearofYou!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.