Three Emotional Boundaries You Can Set Today
You likely know what a boundary is. Chances are, you are even a little familiar (if not a lot familiar) with setting them. Are you aware, though, of the benefits of boundaries? Just a few include:
- Building self-esteem
- Establishing or re-establishing your values and beliefs
- Preventing burnout at work or in relationships
- Maintaining autonomy
- Having a clear identity
- Higher level of mental health / mental wellness
From this list, it’s clear that setting boundaries has a variety of benefits. Setting boundaries especially helps us to establish and maintain our identity. They serve to say “this is something I will or will not do,” and our enforcement of our boundaries makes it clear where our values lie.
There are a variety of boundary categories. There are physical boundaries, which are those parameters around our body and our space. There are time boundaries, which are rules we place around our energy and day. There are material boundaries, which are boundaries set around our stuff. Finally, there are emotional boundaries, which is the theme of our blog post today.
Emotional boundaries are parameters we set to protect our emotional state. Emotional boundaries help us not take on the emotions of others, make our emotional state clear, and give us autonomy when it comes to what we’re willing to give emotionally.
If you feel you need to set emotional boundaries today but are unclear on where to start, here are three emotional boundaries you can set today!
Don’t Take on the Emotions of Others
One of our biggest suggestions for caregivers, first responders, mental health clinicians, or anyone in a service role: set an emotional boundary when it comes to taking on the emotions of others. This boundary is applicable even outside of a service role, however; friends and family at some point are bound to come to you with a problem!
Setting this boundary means clearly saying “I can help support you and listen to you, but I cannot take on the emotional burden you’re carrying.” Enforcing this boundary may look like telling a friend you are unable to listen to them vent today because you yourself had a stressful day. It can also look like not getting too involved in someone else’s problem, such as offering to help a friend in a tight spot afford gas to get home, but donating your home to them (an extreme example, but you see our point!). This boundary protects your emotional space by only allowing your emotions to stick with you, and not the emotions of others.
Take Ownership of Sharing
Sometimes, others want us to share our feelings. They may want to know about our past and past traumas, as well. Today, take ownership of sharing: decide that you and you alone can share what you feel comfortable with.
One example may occur when you date a new person. The new partner may ask about your dating and/or sexual history. Today, we want you to know: your emotional business is yours. If you are uncomfortable with sharing something that may be emotional to you, don’t share it. If you feel comfortable, do. It sounds simple, but we may fall into the trap of not wanting to say no and instead diving into conversations we wish we didn’t.
Make a List of Your Non-Negotiables
Your non-negotiables are things you don’t budge on. This could be based on a belief system or values you may have. It could also be based on things you know are triggering events for you, so you’ve decided to set parameters around them.
This could look like religious or moral boundaries; for example, if you are of a particular religion like Judaism or Islam, you may have certain dietary, dress, or ritual restrictions to adhere to (or not, the choice is yours!). Your non-negotiable may be “I won’t eat a certain food, even if my partner asks me to.” A non-negotiable could also be based on a value; for example, “I will only adopt dogs from rescue shelters because I believe in helping animals that have been hurt before.” It can also be regarding an action, such as “I will not spend money at a particular concert/movie/art show because something the creator has done has gone against my values.” However it looks for you, be aware of your non-negotiables and stand firm with them.
We hope this blog post educated you on three emotional boundaries you can set today! If you’d like to talk to someone about setting boundaries, we’ve got clinicians who can help. We’re here for you! Reach out today to meet a clinician to help you on your healing journey. We look forward to hearing from you!