It’s important to establish personal boundaries in our work and personal relationships. Boundaries give us autonomy over our body, space, feelings, and schedule. But it’s not always easy to know how to set those boundaries – what should we say? In this post I’ll give you examples of boundaries and scripts to use when setting limits with others.
Establishing boundaries is crucial for boosting self-esteem, conserving emotional energy, and taking charge of your well-being.
So, What Are Boundaries?
Boundaries are the rules we establish for relationships and ourselves. They are the limits we place on our time, emotions, body, sexual health, finances, and mental wellbeing. These invisible bubbles protect us from being emotionally drained, used or manipulated by others.
Setting boundaries with clarity will help you stay aligned with your values. Enforcing boundaries prevents you from being taken advantage of and improves your confidence and self-respect.
Determining Your Boundaries
Remember, that you have the right to say no without feeling guilty, and you have the right to have your needs and wishes respected. Boundaries teach others how you wish to be treated.
Listen to your gut. That is your inner voice, and she is your biggest advocate. Listen to her. You may hear her when your heart rate increases, or if you have knots in your stomach when faced with a person crossing your boundaries.
Reflect on your values. You know what is important to you. If you value a lazy Friday night, for example, because you need to recharge after the work week, honor that and say no when people try push your boundaries. If you value honesty and someone is asking you to lie, you will need to say no to that request and honor yourself.
Examples of Boundaries
Examples of Boundaries at Work
- Determine your work hours, including any remote or in-office time and stick to them with few exceptions.
- Be clear about your availability.
- “I can’t make that Thursday evening meeting due to a previous engagement.”
- “I’m booked at that time – are you free later this week?”
- Decide whether you will respond to work messages or emails after work hours. You may even want to set specific times of the day to check email to avoid distraction during focus time.
- Block your calendar for focus time to work during your most productive part of the day.
- Take time off. When you are sick, take that time off and don’t allow yourself to feel guilty. Book that vacation! You’ve earned the time off.
- Ask for help when the workload is heavy.
- “I can’t make that deadline unless I can deprioritize other tasks, which would you prefer for me to set aside?”
- Don’t take on your boss’s problems as your own, if you don’t have the resources to address them or they are above your pay grade.
- Set the expectation that the resources you need to be effective at your job will be provided, whether in the form of people on your team to help, budget, or processes and clear communication.
- “In order to complete this project effectively, we’ll need 12 weeks and an additional contractor to help manage the load. Let’s talk through the budget and scope so we can move forward.”
Examples of Boundaries with Friends
- Let friends know when they can tend to expect a response from you, and how you prefer to communicate (text, email, DM’s or whatever else).
- Communicate upfront what is really important to you in a friendship. Is it celebrating your birthday together every year? Texting till 11PM? Making sure you can meet in person at least once a quarter? Don’t assume you are on the same page as people if you haven’t talked it out.
- Tell friends honestly and clearly if you cannot make an event.
- If a friend is being intentionally disrespectful, jealous, spiteful (such as gossiping behind your back) you can let them know that is behavior you don’t tolerate. Try communicating openly about hurts and disappointments when there is a chance of a misunderstanding.
- Let them know the goals you are working towards.
- Acknowledge the size of your “social battery” and make time for yourself.
- You don’t always have to say yes. Unlearning people pleasing tendencies is vital!
Examples of Boundaries in Relationships
- Don’t forget to spend time with friends, family, and yourself. A true partner will not ask you to choose between themselves and your friends or family.
- Gently tell them that you’d like time for yourself. For example, “On Sundays, I need time for myself.” You’re also encouraged and allowed to pursue hobbies that are just for you.
- Express your preferences and desires for how you’d like your partner to show affection (like your “love languages”) or expectations for planning dates, household chores and shared values.
- Guide them to another person or avenue when you are not in the right space for emotional dumping. Sometimes, we aren’t always emotionally equipped to be the receiver of venting or emotional dumping. You could kindly suggest they reach out to a therapist or a friend.
- Be clear about physical boundaries. Sometimes, we don’t always feel like hugs or kisses. Let them know!
How to Set Boundaries
Reflect on your reasons for your boundaries.
Make sure you understand why you have that limit and understand how that boundary will nurture and preserve your well-being.
- Start Slowly
You don’t have to rush into creating a bunch of boundaries if the practice is new to you. Build them up slowly, even one by one. It will allow you gain confidence in the process and feel more comfortable to keep going.
- Learn to Say No
It is perfectly fine to simply say no. You don’t need to offer an explanation. You have the right to make your own decisions and execute them without feeling guilty. And no need to apologize!
- Be Clear and Assertive.
Use “I” statements when communicating your boundary. For example, “I cannot come to the party on Friday.” Using statements that begin with “I” establish confidence and express your thoughts, needs and feelings without worrying about hurting the other person’s feelings or being rude. Make sure you are precise and clear about what you can and cannot do. People are more likely to respect your boundaries if they have a clear understanding of them, without waffling.
- Practice Self-Love
Positive affirmations, and practicing positive internal talk is vital in setting boundaries. Engage in activities you enjoy is also a great way to pivot that internal dialogue. When we participate in activities we love, such as running or singing, or painting, we release happy hormones, which can help our minds feel more positive. When we feel more positive and deserving, we will have a better time at setting those boundaries with others.
Protect Your Peace
Remember, boundaries are there to keep our emotional, personal, and physical space healthy and safe. You have the right to set boundaries in your closest and professional relationships without feeling guilty. By practicing healthy boundary-setting, we can create and foster deeper, healthier connections with others, while respecting and tending to our own needs.