Boundaries are rules or guidelines that you create to show others how to treat you. Relationships work best when we are clear about our expectations and needs. We can show ourselves and others respect by setting clear, consistent boundaries.
Setting boundaries is a struggle for a lot of people. I’m not going to promise you an easy way to learn how to set boundaries. But I want to share with you six benefits of setting boundaries. I hope that when you see just how much better your life can be with boundaries, you’ll find the motivation and strength to practice setting boundaries.
6 benefits of setting boundaries are:
1. More compassion. According to Brene Brown, Ph.D., people with strong boundaries are the most compassionate. Does that surprise you? Often people think that setting boundaries is mean or unfair. It’s actually quite the opposite. Letting people know what’s OK and what’s not OK is kind and respectful. Watch this five minute video of Dr. Brown explaining the connection between boundaries and compassion for a deeper understanding.
2. Greater assertiveness. Boundaries are a way of asserting your needs. In order to set boundaries, you need to pay attention to how you’re feeling and tune into what you need. You can then assertively ask others to treat you in ways that meet your needs. An added bonus is that you’ll find you’re more assertive in all of your communication.
3. Your needs are met. We all have emotional and physical needs and we all deserve to have our needs met (some we meet ourselves and some are met in relationships). When you speak up and ask for what you need, you’re much more likely to get it!
4. Less anger and resentment. When you let people walk all over you, you feel angry and resentful. You probably find you’re self-critical and angry with yourself for being passive, fearful, and letting others take advantage of you. And you’re angry and resentful at others for mistreating you. When you communicate your needs and expectations clearly (i.e. have healthy boundaries), you are unlikely to be building up resentments and anger.
5. Feeling of peace and safety. For me, this is the greatest benefit of setting boundaries. For some of you, setting boundaries may free you from physical harm. For many, setting boundaries will free you from emotional abuse, verbal attacks, and manipulation. Boundaries also provide emotional freedom from needless energy spent beating yourself up and second guessing yourself. When I don’t set boundaries, I get stuck in shame and self-doubt. I criticize myself for not asking for respect and allowing others to mistreat me.
6. Time and energy to do things that nourish and bring joy to your body, mind, and spirit. And, finally, when you say “No” to things you don’t want to do and people who drag you down, you say “Yes” to spending time with people who fill you up emotionally, activities that you’re interested in and enjoy, and to a happier, healthier self.
These are six pretty powerful benefits and in fact there are even more (see image).
How do you think your life might be better by setting healthy boundaries? If you’re ready to find out, pick up a copy of my workbook Setting Boundaries Without Guilt. It’s a practical guide to help you learn and practice how to set healthy boundaries.
©2016 Sharon Martin. All rights reserved.
Originally published on PsychCentral.