We are surrounded by boundaries. From the walls of our homes to the neighbor’s fence line, to the four ways stop.
There are a set of rules that exist with these boundaries. We know if we run the stop sign, there is a chance we will be issued a ticket or get into an accident. If we attempt to plant a garden in our neighbors’ yard, we know to expect a visit soon or a letter from the HOA.
The rules of concrete boundaries are easy to follow, but what about personal boundaries? Often the rules are not as clear, and they differ for everyone and situation. For example, the stranger that touches you at the mall as they pass by is different from the touch you receive from your significant other or a friend. In this instance, it would be challenging to make a generic rule about “no touching”.
A friend shouting at you while the band plays at a football game, is different from a friend shouting at you during a disagreement. Thus, a blanket rule of “no yelling” would not apply. Both are examples of personal boundaries.
Personal boundaries are the limits or space we create physically, emotionally, and mentally between ourselves and other people.
Without personal boundaries, it is difficult for us to establish our identity, and reciprocate respect for others. Clear and healthy boundaries can improve our intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships.
3 Steps in Setting Personal Boundaries
Step 1: Define Your Boundaries
The first step to establishing personal boundaries is to define them. One way to establish this, is to make a list of values. What are some of the things that are important to you and how do you want these things to be respected in your relationships with others?
As an example, if becoming a vegan is important part of your overall plan to improve your health; hanging out with someone that makes fun of you and pushes a burger in your face, could create a boundary violation.
Note that boundaries go both ways. The same way you do not want to eat a burger, may be the same way your friend feels about a salad.
Step 2: Let Emotions be Your Guide
The second step is to pay attention to emotions when your boundaries are violated. Do you feel resentment about being the one that is volunteered to drive, but no-one contributes gas money? If your boss likes to give you a pat on the back, but you feel discomfort whenever they touch you, this could be a possible boundary violation.
Try to think of scenarios in which you felt uncomfortable. Consider the context and whether it was an isolated incident or if this consistently happens with people you are around.
Step 3: Practice Makes Perfect
Lastly, once you have identified your personal boundaries and how they make you feel, be okay with setting them.
Practice in the mirror or role play the conversation in your head. Sometimes, we become fearful of how others may respond, and we forego setting our boundaries.
Establishing boundaries plays a big role in self-care. Boundaries create opportunities to enhance interpersonal relationships. Whether you are establishing boundaries with friends, a significant other, colleagues, children, or parents; remember, boundaries are a two-way street.
Useful & Helpful Resources to Help You Set Personal Boundaries
To begin setting your boundaries, try using these worksheets, located on Therapistaid.com:
Boundary Exploration: https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/boundaries-exploration-activity.pdf
Setting Boundaries: https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/setting-boundaries.pdf
Teen Therapy, Young Adult Counseling, & Family Therapy: Katy, Tx & Houston
Setting personal boundaries is important in maintaining strong mental health. It is an element of self care that can be challenging. This is where teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family therapy can help.
Our Katy, Tx location is conveniently located just off of 99 and I-10. We are about 4 blocks behind (south) Academy Sports.
If you are ready to start your healing journey, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Start your journey in realizing your full potential
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we use therapy and counseling approaches that are supported by research. These approaches have been shown to work in the shortest amount of time.
We also offer the following therapy and counseling services:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
About the Author
Jheri has been providing therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2009. She enjoys using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) due to it's effectiveness with teens and young adults.
Jheri is also a Supervisor providing mentoring and supervision to up and coming therapists. She has taken ownership to ensure the new therapists are therapists highly trained and qualified to provide therapy to others.
Jheri also has a unique understanding of some of the challenges teens and young adults face who are bi-racial. Identity, acceptance, and embracing a mixed heritage are some of the life journey's she helps teens and young adults with.