7 Tips for Creating Healthy Boundaries

by Naomi Austin, LPC – Associate

“You get what you tolerate.” -Henry Cloud

“People only treat you one way…the way you allow them to.” -Unknown

Do either of those quotes sound familiar to you? Maybe someone has said one of these things to you before, or perhaps you have expressed something similar to someone in your life? Both of these quotes are about personal boundaries. So, what are personal boundaries? Personal boundaries are the limits and rules that we set for ourselves within relationships. When we have healthy personal boundaries, we are comfortable saying “no” to others when we need or want to, without feeling guilty for it.  Healthy personal boundaries allow you to set a standard for yourself of what you will and will not accept, what you are comfortable with, and what you need in order to protect your peace.

To begin creating healthy boundaries, it is important to realize that there are 3 types of boundaries: Rigid, Porous, and Healthy.

Rigid boundaries are revealed in traits such as:

  • avoiding intimacy and close relationships,
  • not asking for help,
  • having a lack of interpersonal relationships,
  • being detached,
  • choosing to be alone rather than facing the fear of rejection.

Porous boundaries can be identified by traits such as:

  • oversharing personal information,
  • finding it extremely difficult to say no to requests made by others,
  • frequently getting overinvolved in other people’s problems,
  • always feeling the need to ask for everyone’s opinions or validation,
  • being afraid of being rejected if you say no or do not do what others ask of you,
  • allowing others to treat you with disrespect and/or abuse you.

Healthy boundaries tend to fall in-between rigid and porous boundaries, with identifiable traits such as:

  • being okay with saying “no” to others,
  • being able to accept when someone tells you “no” without feeling rejected,
  • having the ability to identify your own wants, needs, and values,
  • being able to speak up for yourself,
  • not being willing to compromise yourself to make someone else happy,
  • knowing your worth. 

If you find that you might not have as many traits in the healthy boundaries category as you would like, it is never too late to begin working towards creating healthy personal boundaries. 

Here are 7 tips to help you begin creating healthy personal boundaries: 

1. Know What is Acceptable to You

Be clear on what your limits are. What are you okay with doing or giving in a situation or in a relationship, and what are you not okay with? 

2. Define Your Boundaries 

Identify your desired boundaries, i.e., maybe you find yourself always doing several co-workers’ duties for them and struggle with saying no. In this case, maybe your desired boundary is to create healthier work boundaries.  

3. Define Your Values 

Identify your core values, i.e., what is important to you, what do you value most? 

4. Get in Touch with Your Emotions 

Pay attention to your feelings. Be aware if you are feeling anger, frustration, or resentment about situations, i.e., does saying yes to a co-worker’s request to finish a work task for them make you feel angry inside? Take the time to figure out what you are feeling and why. Use your feelings as a guide. 

5. Respect Yourself 

Be aware of your own needs and allow yourself to say “yes” to yourself and “no” to others. Value your time and your need to practice self-care. 

6. Respect Others 

Evaluate your intentions. Are you being selfish in a good way in order to take care of your emotional, mental, and physical well-being, or are you just being plain selfish, i.e. you are only worried about winning or you are trying to take advantage of others? 

7. Be Decisive 

Say what you need without feeling the need to explain yourself. Say “no” respectfully, but clearly. 

It is common to have traits from all 3 boundary types. It is helpful to be aware of this and to remind yourself that everyone is different. Creating healthy boundaries involves being mindful of what you need, setting boundaries that feel comfortable, and being aware of boundaries that no longer feel comfortable. Creating healthy boundaries is not a one-size-fits-all approach and is a part of practicing self-care. If you need help creating healthy boundaries or setting self-care routines, contact me so that we can begin working on your goals together!

References: 

How to set healthy boundaries: 10 examples + PDF worksheets. PositivePsychology.com. (2021, September 13). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://positivepsychology.com/great-self-care-setting-healthy-boundaries/.

Therapy worksheets, tools, and handouts. Therapist Aid. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.therapistaid.com/.

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