Back UP! What exactly are healthy boundaries?

Often when boundaries are the subject of discussion, their meaning and purpose get lost within misconceptions of those charged with respecting them. People often become offended by the set of principles they have created in an effort to keep themselves mentally and emotionally sound.

Far too often, the person who needs the space adheres to the demands of others placing their needs on hold.

What exactly are boundaries? Boundaries are guidelines created to protect to and preserve ones emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. This could be a small rule as simple as putting your phone on do not disturb for a few hours in an attempt to unplug or debrief.

Invisible: The trouble with personal boundaries is far too often they become invisible to others because no sooner than the boundary is set, its crossed. Well why is that? Because people often find difficulty respecting their own bounds. We teach our loved ones and others to also turn a blind eye to their “boundaries”. How? You ask…. Because our NO, really translates to, maybe later. We allow our hearts to run things and in the blink of an eye (although your brain told you to take a break, say no, deny the request of others and put your mental first) you have crossed and crisscrossed your own boundaries.

Digital: The year 2020, or at least a quarter of the year has proven itself to be a very difficult and unprecedented time. A simple night of watching the evening news can infiltrate one’s mental and emotional balance. Social media has been a platform where celebrations, marketing, sells, unrest, injustices, and even murders is published. There comes a time where we have to set boundaries even for our social media addresses. There are some things that cause chaos within our psyches; we have to learn when, what and who to evict from our social media homes. Understanding when we should take short vacations from our virtual platforms is key setting digital limitations. Unplugging is something that is much needed and unless we have our digital boundaries intact friends, families and associates take it upon themselves to deliver us MUST SEE articles, videos and screenshots.

Physical: Physical boundaries are necessary to keep us physically comfortable. I have heard of a physical boundary where men use every other urinal to respect one other’s personal space. Another example is a person opting for a fist bump oppose to a hug or handshake. After Covid-19, I witnessed people implement the “Wakanda forever” self-hug as a sign of love again, employing a physical boundary in an effort to remain healthy.

Introduction: Introducing boundaries to loved ones can be a difficult task so I suggest starting small. I’ve created a very modest way to introduce loved ones to the idea of boundaries. Bath-time boundaries are a simple but effective way to implement a mental/emotional as well as a physical boundary. Bath-time boundaries are simply carving out time for one’s self during shower/bathroom/bath-time.

The How: Here are five essential keys to keep in mind when creating and implementing healthy boundaries.

  1. Self-Care – Understanding and prioritizing self-care is a must when creating healthy boundaries. Boundaries are easier to set, implement and maintain when self-care is non-negotiable.
  2. Self-awareness – being aware of things that cause happiness, excitement, calm, anxiety, unhappiness, sadness, and anger. Being self-aware allows a person to survey their feelings and understand what things are acceptable and what is not.
  3. Responsibilities – Keeping your responsibilities on the forefront of your mind will support in setting healthy boundaries. In the event you have small children it may not be a good idea to set a boundary where you are not to be disturbed when there is no one home to sit with your children. Or perhaps you have a job from 9-5 and you tell your supervisor you are unavailable every day at 10 am how could this be considered a healthy or attainable boundary.
  4. Communication: Communicating your boundaries is key to their success. In creating and implementing boundaries, one must communicate these principles to others, especially those who these boundaries will affect. We expect people to know what we expect of and from them.
  5. Practice: Strictly enforcing boundary guidelines after implementation is essential to sustaining them. Again, if you don’t respect or take your limitations seriously, no one else will.
Pamela Nicole Dukes

Pamela is a passionate, phenomenal purpose driven author, Emotional Wellness coach and speaker. Raised on the Southside of Chicago, she has served the developmentally disabled and senior populations for over a decade. She is certified in Life, Solutions Focused, and Master Emotional Wellness

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