What exactly are boundaries?
Boundaries are rules, limits, guidelines and sometimes non-negotiable rituals that you can identify for yourself and apply through communication and action. They are a tangible form of self-care that allows us to protect our time and energy as well as our mental, emotional and physical health.
Why are they important?
Some common areas there is often a need to set healthy boundaries include our relationships, work, our use of social media and technology and often times, with ourselves.
Without healthy boundaries around work and relationships for example, we may find ourselves in a constant state of overwhelm, exhaustion and anxiety along with a regular experience of low self-esteem and self-worth.
What steps can we take to implement boundaries?
Journaling is a great time-tested tool that can help us to emotionally regulate, especially when it comes to our boundaries being overstepped. Once you’ve identified where in your life you might need to set boundaries along with your preferences, limits and dealbreakers, it’s time to put those words into motion by communicating your needs. When it comes to communicating your boundaries with others, be clear and intentional about your preferences and expectations, delivery is truely everything.
Healthy boundaries vs unhealthy boundaries
People pleasing is a particularly common phenomenon in Australia and we come from a generation of people who hate to let anyone down or come off as selfish. We can often find ourselves entangled in a web of fear and guilt when it comes to declaring our boundaries with loved ones, co-workers and our community, thus boundary setting is generally not a task that comes easily nor naturally.
However, healthy boundaries can help us to protect ourselves and our relationships as well as preserve our time and energy so that we can truely thrive in all areas of our lives. Some examples of healthy boundaries include:
- Kindly declining an invite to social event that you prefer not to go to
- Communicating with your partner and friends that certain behaviours won’t be tolerated
- Being clear with your boss and co-workers that you will only work within allocated work hours
- Letting go of friendships with people who drain your energy or fail to respect your boundaries
Unhealthy boundaries, on the other hand, are ill-defined as well as poorly enforced or communicated. Ultimatums can also quickly turn into an unhealthy form of boundary setting. Whilst in some cases where our safety is in jeopardy ultimatums are necessary, however, offering someone an either/or option is often a threatening and manipulative ultimatum in the guise of a boundary. An ‘ill only love you if..’ scenario, for example.
Examples of some simple non-negotiable rituals and boundaries we can explore with ourselves.
Nat, our founder’s daily non-negotiable she has with herself is, as soon as she gets into bed she turns on flight mode/sleep mode and does not look at any notifications from then on until she has woken up and got herself ready for the day. She finds it really challenging to not wake up and instantly look at her phone and engage in social media right away, but it’s something she is committed to working on.
Lucia, our creative marketing manager, ensures to start her day everyday by walking her dog and getting some sunlight, this helps her energy levels throughout the day, regulates her sleep and also keeps her circadian rhythm in alignment with nature, this is super important to her.
I’m personally revisiting an old non-negotiable ritual I used to have and re setting boundaries around it. Before I check my phone, get started on work or head out into the world, I used to wake up extra early, brew a coffee, light some incense and write a poem. My goal at this time was to write a poem a day, no matter if the words were flowing like honey or if it was like trying squeeze water from a stone.
I needed to engage in this ritual to keep my creative imagination alive as well as my love for writing and the mental/emotional benefits that I gain from it. I’ve written a lot of less-than-beautiful forced and frustrated pieces, but at least I wrote something and that was what was important to me.
Another non-negotiable boundary I really appreciated hearing about recently was from an entrepreneur friend of mine who mentioned she had set a very necessary boundary by deleting all of her work related email accounts and notifications off of her phone. This way, she only started work once she physically sat down and opened her laptop within her allocated work hours. This prevented her work time from bleeding into her personal time, and likewise, when she was on work hours she didn’t engage in non-work related notifications. She found removing the blurred lines between the two made her more present in both her work and personal life.
In conclusion, we encourage you to investigate where in your life a firm boundary or a non-negotiable ritual might be necessary right now and to further explore this imperative from of self care, for a healthier you. Always remember, your personal boundaries are important and deserve to be honoured.
Written by Denise Battany