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What are boundaries and Why are they Important?

"Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously."

Boundaries are a fundamental part of life, yet we often fail to recognize their importance in our lives. If you find yourself constantly drained by others and feeling like people always ask too much from you, establishing boundaries is likely the key to finding balance and peace in your relationships with friends, family members, coworkers, and even yourself. Not only will setting healthy boundaries protect your mental health - enabling you to make sure that what's best for yourself comes first - but they also provide clarity on expectations within relationships. Implementing effective boundary-setting practices can be challenging and uncomfortable at times, but the long-term effects will benefit all areas of your life tremendously.

What are boundaries? 

A Boundary is an invisible line that defines what behaviors are acceptable for an individual. The most common types of boundaries are physical and emotional. For example, a physical boundary could be "do not touch me." An emotional boundary might sound like, "I need time to process this before we talk." Time and place can also be a part of creating boundaries. 

Why Set Boundaries? 

Boundaries help create a clear guideline, rule, or limit of how you want to be treated. Essentially, boundaries let others know what is acceptable to you. Setting boundaries can help us feel respected and safe, both emotionally and physically. Conversely, if we do not set boundaries, it can impact our self-esteem and relationships and cause symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. 

book on lap of love and respect

How To Set Boundaries: 

For most people, the first step in setting boundaries is acknowledging that you deserve respect and that your feelings matter. 

The next step is defining and acknowledging your boundaries. Boundaries may look different in each relationship and in different environments, which is okay. For instance, you most likely have other boundaries with your boss than with your partner or a friend. 

After identifying your boundaries, you can consider what boundaries you need or want to put in place. For example, what are my needs and wants? How will I feel respected and comfortable in this relationship or environment?

uneven fence posts

How to Communicate Your Boundaries

Lastly, communicate your boundaries and be aware of respecting others' boundaries. It can be helpful to validate the other person when setting a boundary. For example, setting a boundary with a friend using validation might sound like this: "I know you want to talk about our weekend plans, and I won't be able to call you back until I finish my work for the day." 

We hope that this blog post has helped you understand the importance of setting and maintaining boundaries in your relationships. If you would like help learning how to set boundaries or practice communicating your needs, please reach out to us. Therapy can help. I am passionate about assisting others in setting and maintaining boundaries that allow them to feel respected and safe in their relationships. 

Claire is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in helping people set and maintain healthy boundaries. She offers individual therapy sessions in person at Shoreside Therapies at our Milwaukee location or via telehealth (throughout Wisconsin). Sixteen percent of internet users say they have gone online to look for health information related to mental health specifically - don't suffer in silence; reach out for help today.

Contact Claire

Laila Wiechmann, MS, LPC, LADC

Ready to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation?

Claire Whetter PhD, LPC-IT, NCC

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Milwaukee WI, 53202

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