How good are you at setting boundaries?
Most of us long for better relationships with our partners, children, families, colleagues, and coworkers, and boundaries are such an important tool in helping to build better relationships.
As a parent, one of the most useful things I ever learned was that children need boundaries. They require structure. Often when children are acting out, they’re seeking boundaries on some level. Boundaries help them to feel safe.
Boundaries are important in all relationships, especially with partners. Your partner can’t read your mind and isn’t always sure what you want, no matter how obvious you think it is.
Let’s explore seven ways boundaries build better relationships, and the kinds of things that setting boundaries can help with.
Boundaries Help Us To Have Clarity
Setting boundaries builds better relationships by bringing clarity.
No one can read your mind. If you think that people should do everything the way that you do, or that’s just how it should be, chances are you’re going to find yourself very, very disappointed.
Not everyone knows what your needs are, and if you don’t communicate them, or at least be willing to say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no, then nobody’s going to know your boundaries.
People get upset, make assumptions, and pass judgment. They don’t know the whole story. When you have clear boundaries, you create clarity in the relationship. When you know that you won’t do certain things, or you will only do certain things, you must communicate it.
If you want to have boundaries honored in a relationship, they need to be communicated. You can’t assume people know what your needs are. Boundaries help build clarity, and create clarity both for yourself and for those around you.
When everybody’s clear, nobody’s assuming, or passing judgment, or wondering what you’re thinking or why you’re doing something.
You don’t have to explain yourself with everything, but when you set a clear boundary that says, “No, this is not what I choose to do,” then people will know that, and it becomes very easy to be in a relationship with you.
Setting Boundaries Helps Us Practice Meeting Our Own Needs
Boundaries help us to cultivate clarity, and they also help us to get our needs met in relationships.
We can practice our own sense of confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth by setting boundaries. When we’re willing to practice these, our relationships improve. We develop consistency.
Boundaries help us to ensure we get our needs met, and this improves our relationships by not putting all the pressure on others to meet our needs for us.
Boundaries Help You Stay True To Yourself
Our relationships are much better when we’re being true to ourselves.
Often in a family situation, it’s difficult for family members to think of you differently than the way they thought of you when you were growing up. If you’ve been on a journey of personal growth and development, you’ve probably changed significantly.
There may even be things you regret having said or done when you were young, and your family might still think of you based on those things. In fact, they might even still bring up old things.
When you have clear boundaries, you’re not going to engage in those outdated conversations, and you’re not going to do the same thing to others by bringing their old stuff. This can be an inner boundary you set for yourself, both in terms of how you’re going to show up and how you’re going to respond if somebody else acts differently than you want them to.
Boundaries help you to stay in yourself and not get caught up in old dynamics or situations that really don’t suit you.
Setting Boundaries Is An Act of Self-care
When you set boundaries for yourself, it’s an act of self-care.
When you’re in self-care, you’re better able to care for those around you, whether it’s your partner, your employees, your colleagues, your family, or your children.
When I practiced my annual Sacred Nights of Winter Journaling that began long before I started publishing a journal, and I had the boundaries that when I’m sitting and journaling, I would not allow anyone to interrupt me. I’d often wake up early in the morning before anyone else in the house, including my children, and if they woke up while I was still journaling, “no interruption” was my boundary. I would set paper and crayons out for them to join me in this special quiet time.
I knew that I was filling myself up. It was an act of self-care to do that for myself, to take care of myself, and to nurture myself.
When you care for yourself better, and set boundaries around your self-care, you help your family and friends to understand and be accepting of your self-care. People know what’s too much and what’s not enough for you, and helping people respect your needs is powerful self-care.
Boundaries Help Us Have Self-Support In Our Relationships
Boundaries are like riverbanks. A river can’t be flowing without the riverbanks, right? Otherwise, it would be a big puddle on the ground.
You must give yourself support and structure, just like those riverbanks. We need masculine structure to allow for feminine flow. This allows for the essence of your being, for the wild, true nature of your Soul to flow through life.
Boundaries are not just an act of self care. They’re also an act of self-support. You set boundaries through which you can act and flow in your life effectively.
Boundaries Are Self-Nurturing
Self-care, self-support and self-nurturing are all ways in which you get to show up better, and these automatically improve our relationships.
When you’re taking care of yourself, people know it.
You establish consistency. You’re nurtured. You’re fueled. You’re not drained, overwhelmed, and exhausted all the time because you’re setting boundaries. That keeps you from snapping at others, from pushing other people’s buttons, or from getting easily triggered by others. You’re able to refrain from projecting your emotions onto others or taking things out on them unfairly.
When you set boundaries, you’re nurturing your well-being.
Boundaries Help Put Limits in Place
When we’re setting boundaries, we’re also setting limits for ourselves.
We understand what we’re able to do and what we’re not able to do, what we’re willing to do and what we’re not willing to do. When you know this, those around you will understand.
Boundaries say, “I’m not okay with certain things happening in my home,” or “I’m not okay with certain interactions at work,” or “I’m not okay with certain foods or certain ways of doing activities, or…” fill in the blank.
When you’re really clear about your limits and what you’re willing and not willing to do, it’s really clear for everyone if you communicate those limits with others.
If you’re really clear about your boundaries, there’s not going to be extra discomfort or pressure or guilt or shame, and you can stand strong in that space.
There are many tools on how to set boundaries, and how to be clear and communicate those boundaries. Hopefully you’re seeing the importance of having boundaries in order to build better relationships.
When you’re clear about how you want to show up, who you want to be, how you want to live and express yourself in your life, it will make all the difference in the world in terms of how happy you are, how your relationships unfold, how you see yourself, and how others see you.
For a video version about how boundaries can help build better relationships, watch here: