Boundaries may seem like a scary subject to some, but honestly, it is one of the tools that we need to have healthier relationships. In the visual sense, a boundary signals a new territory that may not be accessible for most people who want to pass through. In life, we will become many things to many people, so it becomes so important that we can maintain ourselves.

In sessions, I teach boundaries to be less about another person and more about you! I will suggest that some of my clients do a writing exercise to address what boundaries they would like to see in their lives in whatever particular area they may want to address in therapy. For the sake of this blog, I will explain more about this.

1. What boundaries are

A Boundary is something that you must know for yourself. Meaning, in relationships with others, there are things that you like to do, and there are things that you don’t want to do or don’t feel good about after you do them, but you may still do them. By continually doing something that you do not like to do for others’ sake is the quickest way to dishonor yourself. The process of dishonoring ourselves is not something that we do intentionally. Instead, it may be subconscious and something that happens slowly but steadily over time.

However, setting a boundary would be beneficial because you can set a new standard that will cause others to treat you more suitably to the way you would like to be treated. Growing up, I was told you don’t lend money that you cannot afford to lose. The reasoning behind that was, if that person does not pay you back, you will still be able to have enough to get your needs met. In sessions, I often encourage my clients to set boundaries around their relationships, i.e., Ending a negative conversation with others or setting standards in dating.

2. What boundaries are not

Often, people get confused about boundaries because boundary-setting automatically means that you need to start cutting people off. I’m not sure where it comes from, but boundaries can be seen as more harmful than they are. Sometimes when people set boundaries, they come from “I don’t/ won’t do that for you,” which contradicts the notion that we should be there for others.

I agree that boundaries should not be made up just for a person or group of persons precisely. However, if you have a family member or friend who takes advantage, set the boundary! However, the only time that one forms a limit should not be when upset or fed up. The reason being is it takes away the power of what you need to do for you to thrive and be happy for yourself, to someone else dictating what you need to do to protect yourself against them. Maybe the same result, but two very different points of view.

How to set boundaries

  • Think about the things you want in your relationship (i.e., dating, work, friends, family, etc.)
  • Write down a list of deal-breakers, which you know that you cannot tolerate in others because of how they trigger you. (i.e., I don’t want to date men who lie because I need to be in honest relationships to feel good)
  • If you are having trouble, start by keeping the list short and sweet, 3-5 things
  • You have just started your list of personal boundaries!
  • Implement them!!

Now that you have your boundaries identify any way you are not honest to yourself (i.e., allowing people to treat you a certain way, etc.) and work to change those dynamics. When you are doing this, you may find that there are relationships that need to be altered or severed. However, you probably already felt that things were not good; let this be your confirmation!

After deciding what your boundaries are, the implementation part can be tricky. However, this is where you can come to someone like myself, a Houston-based therapist specializing in relationships, to move in the right direction.