Boundaries as the Key to Your Best Self: 3 Tips
By Claudia Minner, LMFT
Whether it's saying "no" to something you don't want to do, not checking work emails after a certain time, or even asking for space when you need it, setting boundaries can feel like a daunting task, especially if there is risk of upsetting someone else. When we constantly bend over backwards to meet others' needs for the sake of their happiness, we sometimes sacrifice our own needs and happiness. Cue boundaries: boundaries work to give our needs attention, while still allowing us to maintain healthy relationships with others by showing up as the best version of ourselves. Here are 3 tips for implementing boundaries in your relationships:
1. Identify the "Energy Vampire"
An Energy Vampire is exactly how it sounds: something that constantly depletes you of your energy either mentally, physically, and/or emotionally. Do you feel the Energy Vampire in certain relationships? Are there certain interactions that you're dreading, knowing you will feel depleted afterward? Bringing awareness to this can help identify where boundaries may need to be set to keep you functioning healthfully and meaningfully.
Ex: If your mother calls you 20 times a day, your energy may end up depleted, especially if you pick up every call.
2. Establish Your Values
What parts of the relationship feel important for you to maintain? Are there parts of the relationships/interactions that you enjoy or want to hold up? Reflecting on what you value helps specify where a boundary can be placed so that the healthy parts of the relationship stay present, while keeping the Energy Vampire at bay.
Ex: Answering work emails long after leaving the office may deplete your energy due to not being able to disconnect from that part of your day. Perhaps it is important to you to be prompt and reply to every email, but doing so may get in the way of being able to fully recharge for the next day.
3. Stick to it if it's What You Need
Once you know where and how you would like to set a boundary, it is up to you whether it is effective, and whether you should stick to it. You are within your own control, but others are not, so even if you have set this boundary, people may not abide by them. That's okay! Stick to it if it's what recharges you. At the end of the day, boundaries can change and don't have to be permanent. They exist to keep you healthy and functional, and so you can show up in the best way possible.
Ex: If your friend expects you to drop all of your plans to hang out with them, that might be depleting of your energy. Perhaps it is important to spend quality time with your friend, but maybe not every time an opportunity arises (especially if quality time is needed elsewhere). They may get upset by this, but know it is for you to show up as your best self in the friendship by allowing the space for yourself.