Setting Healthy Boundaries

set boundaries and say no when you need to
It’s okay to say “no!”

Today, I want to talk about setting healthy boundaries. I know this may be controversial, but the topic has been on my mind and heart, as of late. It’s because I’ve had people come to me for advice, and have been struggling with it, as well.

Setting these boundaries is NOT always easy. It depends on the relationship dynamic, as well as the people in the relationship. When it comes to a parent and child relationship, for instance, setting boundaries can be difficult simply due to the nature of that dynamic. 

Parent and Child

I find the biggest issue with the parent-to-child dynamic is the hierarchy that’s essentially built in. Finding ways for both sides to set appropriate boundaries can be tougher. The best way to go about it is to have an honest conversation and set those boundaries together. 

When the right boundaries are set from the start, a healthier relationship is possible. I would add that both parties need to realize that the dynamic will shift, as the child gets older. As such, the boundaries will also shift. That’s okay. In fact, when that happens, it should be celebrated!

Sometimes, parents forget that their child has a voice, even from birth. They may not remember that the child’s feelings, opinions, and wants are valid. Part of the discussion around boundaries needs to encompass how a parent talks to their child, and what mutual respect should look like. I’m not advocating that the parent just let them do whatever they want. What I AM saying is that all pieces of the puzzle need to come together and make sense. Again, it comes down to communication! That has to start with the parent and hopefully, as the child grows up, they can learn how to set their own expectations and boundaries in other aspects of their life. We will discuss more of those situations further down this article.

All that being said, there are of course boundaries that should NEVER be crossed. I think we all know what those are.

Healthy Boundaries with Friends

When it comes to friends, healthy boundaries need to be set by and respected by both parties. For instance, you can be there for your friends when they need you, but if you both have a network of mutual friends, you will need to vary who you go to, from time to time. Let me give you an example.

One time, a friend of mine came to me for some advice. I can’t remember what it was about. Suffice to say, I gave the best advice I could. We shared mutual friends but it seemed that I was the only friend this person was going to. While I didn’t mind lending an ear, it became emotionally draining, for me. If I had set the boundaries from the get-go, I might have avoided the burnout I suffered. 

Healthy Boundaries at Work

The office is another area where setting good and healthy boundaries can be SUPER tough! From crazy requests from customers and co-workers to the inevitable boss who thinks their time is the only time that matters, it’s damn near impossible to feel like you can say “no”. Let me share this radical idea. JUST SAY NO! It’s worth it to set the expectations from the start.

Another story for ya’ll. I had a particular boss that loved to make her team members feel like shit. She’d call us out when we messed up and didn’t seem to care how it made us feel. That’s because no one in upper management seemed to set boundaries with her, and how she was expected to interact with her team. She figured that she was the supervisor and that was simply that. To say that we all got tired of her quickly is an understatement. This should have been my FIRST lesson in setting boundaries, after the parental one, of course. 

Healthy Boundaries in Romantic Relationships

We can’t talk about boundaries without mentioning the most intimate kind. Romantic relationships are sometimes fraught with very few boundaries. Some people get caught up in the relationship that they forget to talk to their partner and set the appropriate types of boundaries.

I’m not just talking about bedroom boundaries either. Although that part is important, it’s equally so to set boundaries with the words that are used in conversation, and the way someone expects to be treated. Let me give you an example. If your partner says something like “don’t be stupid” when you say something you think is valid, you need to set the boundary. If you find it offensive, stand up for yourself and say you don’t appreciate that. 

Let’s go back to the bedroom for a moment. Sex is healthy in the relationship, but so are boundaries. If your partner likes something and you’re not comfortable with it, let them know. Set that expectation. In a more extreme case, if your partner wants to bring someone else into the relationship and you’re not comfortable with it, let them know. It all goes back to my previous piece on mindfulness in relationships because we talk about communication a lot in that article. 

In conclusion, setting appropriate boundaries is essential, in any relationship. It doesn’t matter the type, length, or dynamic of that relationship. When it comes down to brass tacks, communication and respect are the foundation of any relationship. Part of the respect part is the boundaries we set. Talk about them with your loved ones, and try to be kind to each other. I want to leave you with the phrase that “love is respect”. Check out their website at https://www.loveisrespect.org/. It mainly covers romantic relationships, but I believe the ideas can translate to all relationship dynamics.

Until next time! Be well and namaste!

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