The idea of setting boundaries with people you love can feel mean, says Nedra Glover Tawwab, a licensed therapist and author of Set boundaries, find peace. However, there are myriad psychological benefits of setting boundaries in your personal and professional life.
“Anxiety and depression are just some of the psychological issues or worries that arise when there are no boundaries in relationships,” she says. “The lack of boundaries can leave people feeling powerless and hopeless.”
And setting boundaries with friends, family, and partners can actually help strengthen those relationships.
“People want to feel seen, and not being able to meet their needs means they aren’t seen in relationships,” says Tawwab.
Setting boundaries can also protect you from harmful experiences at work, says Lisa Bobby, psychologist and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling & Coaching in Denver, Colorado.
“Setting boundaries means knowing your own limits, what you will and will not tolerate,” she says. “This is important because it’s the first step in protecting yourself from experiences that would be harmful to you if you allowed them to happen.”
Telling people what you need can also lead to “an increased sense of empowerment and control over your own life experience,” she says.
If you’re struggling to set boundaries in your life, there are ways to talk to yourself and others that might make it easier Process.
3 tips for setting boundaries in everyday life
It can often be described as “selfish” to take care of those of your loved ones before or along with your own, but it is not. “Unlearn that you shouldn’t have boundaries,” says Tawwab.
“Self-neglect is not a way to show how much you care about others. In relationships, both parties can choose what they want and need.”
Start convincing yourself that you deserve to have preferences, she says: “This can be a helpful step in voicing your needs and wants.”
Think of time as “finally”.
Whatever your boss, friend, family member, or even partner asks you to say “yes” to, leaves very little energy to pursue what makes you happy.
“Boundaries on how you spend your time and allow others to use it are essential,” says Tawwab. “Seeing time as finite rather than infinite can make people more aware of how important and impactful their time is.”
Remember that you only have a limited number of hours in the day. Then you’ll be more likely to say “no” to experiences that don’t serve you.
Use “I” statements
When it’s finally time to draw a line, keep the conversation about your actions, not the other person’s. “Keep it clear and concise without over-explaining yourself,” says Tawwab. “Your limits are about you. Communicate in ‘I’ statements rather than ‘you’ statements. Instead of explaining the problem, focus on what you need. That is the limit.”
For example, instead of telling a friend not to talk about a certain topic in front of you, communicate that it’s unhealthy to you participate in discussions on this topic.
A boundary could also refer to a specific tone or attitude, Bobby says.
“Healthy boundaries don’t say, ‘You can’t talk to me like that,’ but ‘If you talk to me like that, I’ll withdraw from this conversation.'”
Emphasize that this is meant to enhance your relationship, not stifle it, says Bobby.
“Find a special time to have a serious conversation that doesn’t happen spontaneously or during an argument,” she says. “Use ‘soft startup’ skills that underscore your good intentions and desire for a better relationship.”