This Is What It Looks Like to Set Healthy Boundaries
Think back to social studies or geography class in elementary school. Your teacher probably showed you a map and explained that certain types of lines were used to show boundaries between states and countries. Sometimes there would be a natural feature (often a river) that would divide one territory from another, but for the most part, the lines we see on the map were not visible in real life. And yet, even though we can't see the boundaries, people accept that they're there and understand how far they can go before crossing into other territory.
For a variety of reasons, this concept is much easier to grasp on a map than it is when it comes to our personal relationships. Most of the time, (unfortunately) there aren't literal, physical barriers between ourselves and other people. And even when there are (think: office cubicles or a large geographical distance), these boundaries don't always work, and you can find that other people are crossing the line in some way.
This is where setting figurative (or even literal) personal and emotional boundaries come into play. They're your way of letting other people know how far they can go with you when it comes to things like emotional support and labor, seeking your help or advice, or even how frequently you're expected to get in touch.
But for all this talk of personal and emotional boundaries, in reality, they can be pretty nebulous to identify and even trickier to set. Sure, we know we're supposed to "set boundaries," but what exactly does that mean, and how exactly do we do that? Unlike geography, this isn't something we learned in school. Most of us were never trained in how to do it and foster healthy relationships in our personal lives. To help you get a better understanding of personal and emotional boundaries, including how to set them and stick to them, here's some (solicited) advice from trained professionals.
How to Set Boundaries (the Right Way)
Now that you have a firmer grasp on what boundaries are and why they're so important for maintaining our mental health, you may be wondering how, exactly, to set the boundaries you need in your life. Here are some strategies and examples from our experts to help you get started.