Boundaries are a must when it comes to honouring our relationships with ourselves and with other people. But they can be tricky to get right.
Below we explore some common slip-up’s when it comes to boundary setting – which we’re likely all guilty of at some point or another. Check out if some seem to be occurring more regularly with you and how you might shift towards setting more useful boundaries.
1. You say ‘yes’ to everything to avoid disappointing others
Boundary fail 101. If you’re someone who lives to people-please or has difficulty with assertive communication, saying yes to everrryyything will likely be your default mode. The problem with this is that your behaviour and decisions are made out of obligation and expectation rather than being aligned with your needs and values.
Next time you’re compelled to say “yes” – ask yourself, are you being motivated by expectation, guilt or pressure? On the flip side, is this “yes” empowered and helping move you towards your best self?
2. You say ‘no’ to everything to avoid stepping outside your comfort zone
On the flip-side, you can brandish the boundary-claim to low-key avoid any possible discomfort or embarrassment that might come with taking a risk or trying something new. Chilling in the comfort zone is cosy, but you don’t learn much or grow there.
Next time you say “no” – ask yourself, is your need for comfort and safety keeping you small? Is there potential for growth and learning by saying “yes” to something new and maybe a bit scary?
3. You use them as a means of manipulating or controlling others
Boundaries are always self-focused, and should never be expressed as ultimatums or demands in order to control or attempt to change others. It’s important to recognise when your boundaries are potentially being violated, but this should empower you to act (e.g. clearly communicate what is happening with “I” and “me” words, remove yourself from the situation, etc.) rather than force or pressure someone else into action.
When expressing your boundaries – ask yourself how you can own them. Avoid accusative and inflammatory language, and take personal action to enforce them rather than relying on someone else to change.
4. You set boundaries based around your insecurities and not your growth
Similar to the saying “no” point above – boundaries are intended to keep your safe (within reason), help you meet your needs and keep you aligned with your values and priorities. They help nurture your relationship with yourself, which also requires that you develop a deep and curious understanding about yourself in order to set boundaries effectively.
For example, you might set boundaries around not opening up and being vulnerable with others (because you think it will keep you safe), when in fact, this has become a roadblock that limits your ability to connect with others. Use self-work or therapy to help explore these deeper drives, insecurities and core beliefs.
5. You’re inflexible and uncompromising with your boundaries
The world and life and relationships are weird and complex. Boundaries should not be written in stone, to be adhered to in every circumstance, until the end of time. You will change over time, contexts will change, and your needs will change, and so too should your boundaries.
When enforcing a boundary – ask yourself, am I doing this out of habit or do I have a good understanding of myself, of this situation, and what my genuine needs are right now?