August 30, 2023

Empowerment Through Boundaries

By Zachariah Seifert
Mental Health & Wellbeing

Boundaries are healthy and intentional guidelines that we set with others to clarify who we are and establish limits. Thinking through personal boundaries helps us say no when we are uncomfortable and allows us to establish healthy ways to engage in vulnerability with others. Boundaries are crucial tools that keep us safe and secure in our relationships and with ourselves.

When setting boundaries, it is important to consider personal limitations and values and advocate for ourselves when someone may push us to uncomfortable places or circumstances. Boundary setting is a great micro assessment that produces evidence of who you can trust and rely on, as well as who you cannot.

Self-advocacy is an incredible place to start.

Gaining control of yourself, your voice, and how you interact in the world around you will allow more fulfilling and supportive relationships with those who are truly in your corner. Often we may have people in our lives that create immense amounts of discomfort. We continue to engage with them because they are family, friends, coworkers, etc., people we have deemed worthy of our attention even through discomfort. Sometimes we do this to the detriment of our personal health or needs.

There are many reasons for this.

Maybe we simply don’t want the conflict. Maybe we are tired of being bulldozed when attempting to advocate our needs. Maybe it feels scary to shift the status quo because we think the alternative could be more uncomfortable in an already uncomfortable situation. Whatever discomfort we experience, creating clear and concise boundaries is nothing compared to weeks, months, or years of distress, anxiety, and tension.

Chronic tension can lead to multiple adverse health impacts, including mental, emotional, and physical hurdles. There is evidence to support increases in mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression as well as physical health ramifications that can impact functioning. These outcomes can affect our engagement with ourselves, others, and the world around us.

I encourage you with this; you have a choice.

You have the ability to speak up and advocate for a change, to allow yourself a safer and more meaningful relationship with others and with yourself. If people respond poorly to boundary attempts, they may not be your people.

Our limits are often trampled at the expense of our needs or for the sake of comfort. To be clear, I am not saying that life should be comfortable or easy. On the contrary, life needs to be challenging to build resilience and meaningful growth.

However, life doesn’t have to be as uncomfortable as it can be when we do not set healthy boundaries. It can be so much more manageable than we think if we firmly set boundaries and follow through to enforce them.

It can be disappointing when those we consider close trample over our boundary attempts. Staying proactive and holding firm to your needs is crucial. Those who struggle to respect boundaries are disinterested in supporting you.

Instead, they may be more interested in using you, taking advantage of the norm, or simply not wanting to change. Have you ever thought, “Oh, that is just her/him,” about a relationship you have? Have you allowed your personal limits to be pushed due to someone else’s carelessness?

At first, setting boundaries may feel uncomfortable, especially since they are not obvious or natural.

Boundary setting is a developed skill that you must practice regularly. You must engage with boundary-related thoughts and attempt to set boundaries to develop the skill. Sometimes self-advocacy can be challenging in relationships generally and even harder in pre-established relationships where we have accepted the status quo without much thought.

At times relationships with others repeat patterns that become second nature. Most patterns, good or bad, develop from repetition. When we allow others’ interactions, opinions, decisions, etc., to impact us without much thought, we can fall into these patterns easily.

The reality is that you have a choice. You have the option to change and adapt and allow those around you to respect these needs that may have been muted due to developing a sense of normalcy within the discomfort. Being genuine about your limitations is a valuable and necessary first step.

Next, it is essential to identify what you want to change.

Again, you have the final say. They are YOUR boundaries, after all. Your thoughts matter, your intuition matters, you matter. Boundaries you set are not used to make others comfortable or comply with the status quo.

On the contrary, they ought to be used to expand your knowledge of yourself, what you are okay with, and what you are not. It is okay to change and grow. Isn’t that what life is all about? Identifying the things you want to change is crucial so that you have an aim and can begin hitting the target.

Lastly, you must leap.

You have to establish the actual boundary in real-time. You must confirm their importance and then advocate for your needs and the changes you expect. Boundary implementation may come as a challenge. In fact, I would expect it to.

There are so many variables at play that may dissuade a person from attempting to enforce a boundary. Focusing on the variables you can not control only distracts you from experiencing the relational and personal growth that you may be looking for. Shifting your focus away from others when setting boundaries is key.

If you struggle to set boundaries, I would welcome the opportunity to support you on your boundary-setting journey. We will work together to learn how boundaries can effect lasting and impactful change in relationships and to the self.

Please reach out to us here at Optimum Joy, and let’s get started.

Written By

Zachariah Seifert

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