When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho

What is a boundary?

There several definitions when it comes to boundaries. But basically, it means learning when to say yes and no as you acknowledge your own needs and communicate that to the people around you, whether at work, friendships, family, and relationships.

Signs that you need healthy boundaries:

  • You have no time for yourself: You’re always available for people. Even if it’s inconvenient for you, you tend to go out of your way.
  • You have difficulty saying no: You feel guilty when you say no.
  • You resent people who ask for your help: This might not be an initial feeling, but eventually, you’ll feel resentful. You might’ve thought you’ve helped them, but you feel used. You believe that you’re always available to help people, but they are not available to help you.
  • You miss out on something important: This happens whenyou accommodate people around you while your to-do list is not yet done.

Effects of having no boundaries placed:

  1. Resentment: Feeling frustrated or getting angry with those whom you’ve always shown help to.
  2. Anxiety: You feel worried about the other things you haven’t done, or eventually, you’ll feel alone.
  3. Stress: Carrying other people’s responsibilities when it’s not yours to take.
  4. Disorganized: Your schedule gets lost.
  5. Burnout: Not having enough energy for yourself. You’re not happy, and you feel drained almost all the time.

Why boundaries are important:

  1. Boundary is a way to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally.

Knowing how you want to be treated and communicating your needs to people is a sign of loving yourself. When you give yourself space to acknowledge and recognize your needs, you avoid repressing and shoving down

When you know how you want to be treated, and set healthy parameters between you and others, this is a a sign that you are taking care of your needs.

As you set boundaries for yourself, that’s exactly a sign that you are taking care of yourself. Because things you do for people, responsibilities you say yes to – all of those things take energy and effort. As indicated above, difficult emotions rise up simply from not setting healthy boundaries. When boundaries are in place, it might get uncomfortable at first especially if you’re used to it, but just remember that you don’t have to be everywhere all the time. You can’t give what you don’t have. And if you don’t take care of yourself first, how can you take care of other people?

  • Time and energy to do the things that truly matter

Setting boundaries help you to have clarity. Ask yourself these questions before committing or doing something:

  • How will my yes to “this” affect my entire day or schedule?
  • Do I really want to do this if I have a choice?
  • Can the person do this for themselves?
  • Should I really take responsibility for this, and what would be the consequence?

Remember that you don’t have to carry other people’s burdens. As you clear up your day, you’ll begin to organize more of your time to things that truly matter to you.

  • Happier and more satisfied

Because you begin to choose your yes and nos, that would also promote a space for you where you value altruism more. It will not make you feel obliged.  It will make you feel happier that you’re able to help out other people because you helped yourself first.

  • Assertiveness

You’ll enhance your assertiveness skill when you start to speak up for yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to offend the people around you. It just means you communicate properly, addressing your needs while still respecting them.

  • More in tune with yourself

Boundaries need you to be more self-aware. As you create boundaries for yourself, you need to identify the people or even circumstances that make it challenging for you:  

  • Who the people in your life make it difficult for you to set that boundary? Why? What makes it hard for you to say no?
  •  Do you tend to please people all the time? What’s your fear when you say no?

Unlocking these questions helps you to see your motive clearly so you can create healthier boundaries.

  • Better relationships

Respect yourself, and others will respect you.- Confucius

If you let people just always take advantage of you and your time, then they’ll think that it’s okay for you. Let things pass would make them think you’re okay. Treating you better could start if you show and let them know that you have your limitation too. You’ll also see the people who will stay even when you’re not doing something for them.  

How to set healthy boundaries:

  1. Acknowledge your space, time, and energy.

The first step to creating a healthy boundary is to recognize that you need one. You do that, you’ll be able to set the parameters that work so that those problems won’t repeat themselves over and over.

Here is a  guide that can get you started:

  1. Family
  2. Do your parents always have a say in every decision you’ll make? Identify when it means that they are crossing the line.
  3. When there’s a sudden family event or invitation, how do you respond? Remember to check your schedule before saying yes to them.
  4. Do you feel obliged to tell them everything even if you don’t have to? Express yourself openly to them without disrespecting them.
    1. Friendships
  5. When your friend made a sudden request, how could it affect your day, or what part of your schedule needs to be set aside? Is it okay with you? Define what is and what isn’t.
  6. How much time can you spend with people on a day-to-day basis? Do you have to talk to your friend every day?
  7. What is a healthy friendship for you?
  8. Do you carry some of your friend’s responsibilities even though they can do it for themselves?
    1. Work
  9. Do you accept sudden overtime requests without prior notice when you had an initial plan?
  10. What is a healthy workload for you?
  11. Are you okay accepting calls even after work hours or even during the weekends?
  12. Do you accept colleagues’ requests to ask for your help when you have already too much going on?
    1. Romantic Relationship
  13. If your partner asks for a request, do you have to respond to it immediately?
  14. When it comes to your decisions, how far can they give you advice and influence you?
  15. How do you maintain me time in your relationship? Is your partner too clingy, or needs to always talk to you?
  16. What is a healthy romantic relationship for you?

You might find some questions not applicable for you, and or you will find all applicable. These questions are for you to have clarity. Setting boundaries is not selfish. Respecting your needs and what’s good for you is a way to take care of yourself. If people have been used to always you agreeing and saying yes to them, of course, this will feel uncomfortable. Following your boundaries is like working out a muscle too. Keep on going that until you’re used to it.

  • Communicate clearly and concisely.

Communication is key. A lot of people would not understand you if you don’t tell them your needs. You could be aware of your needs and know what’s right for you, but not communicating it would keep them guessing. In every situation, speak up.

  • Pause and give yourself some time

You can be in the spur of the moment when you’re too excited and tend to say yes without thinking of what would happen if you did. Remember that saying yes to something means you are saying no to another thing.

Spontaneity is good in some circumstances. However, don’t let emotions overpower you. Give yourself some time to think about it first, before you commit, especially about your family, work, relationships, or friendship. Taking a pause and time to think about it would be helpful and would hurt no one.

Valuing your yes means you are more committed. And when you say no, it’s because you know there’s something more important that you have to do.

Dealing with guilt is normal as you set your boundaries. Guilt happens because you label what you do as wrong. It might be because of the upbringing that told you that telling your wants and needs is a mistake.

When you were a kid, you might have experienced hearing someone tell you you’re mean when you don’t want to comply with what they’re telling you to do. Telling someone they’re awful  or they’re mean just because they didn’t follow a request is manipulative.

The important thing here is you learn to communicate your need, and you also can speak up for yourself without feeling guilty. When you feel guilt, acknowledge it, but just like all emotions, don’t let it control you and don’t let it hinder you from placing proper boundaries.

  • Practice… and practice

Implementing boundaries could be hard at first, but everything uncomfortable and new is hard. After setting your limits and learning that it all starts with awareness and pointing out which areas in your life needed boundaries, it’s time for you to practice in real-life situations.

Sometimes, you might forget that you have to set a boundary if you’re used to circumstances, or you always honor other people’s needs before yours. Sometimes, guilt or fear is what you’ll feel first when someone asks something from you, and you said no. The best thing to do in those situations is to pause. Listen to yourself. Trust your inner voice. Breathe. Before saying an answer, don’t rush yourself. Take your time. And set your boundary.