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Honoring Your Personal Boundaries…

Many of my clients tell me that in their personal relationships they feel unsure of “the boundaries where they end and others around them begin.” Having diffuse personal boundaries with others can leave you feeling codependent, powerless, unsure of who you are and unheard. Many of my clients with boundary issues report feeling tense, drained, exhausted and overwhelmed in their daily lives. When you find that taking you of yourself is not a priority, some healthy boundary setting can be of help.

I work with my clients to do something called “boundary creation” in small doses each and every day. It is my hope in working with my clients to set new/healthier boundaries that they will find themselves feeling more energized and engaged in their daily routines as opposed to feeling drained and burned out. Most of my clients begin to see immediate effects in their interpersonal/family relationships, as well as the overall quality of their everday lives.

A colleague and I were recently discussing this concept of “honoring your boundaries.” She told me that when she takes the time to ground herself and really set healthy boundaries, she can indeed feel a “big difference” in her life.

If you have diffuse (weak) boundaries in your personal relationships, you might feel that you get caught up in drama easily and literally live out other people’s lives *with* them. It’s like you are constantly tied to other people in a series of three-legged races. You might take on aspects of others’ personalities and lifestyle…and lose yourself in the process. When you have healthy boundaries in place, you can more easily focus on your own life — making it more difficult for people and circumstances to shake this focus.

Here are some tips for setting healthy boundaries:

1. Take a moment to think about how you feel when you are around someone who is draining. This might be a co-worker, a family member or even a close friend. How does this feel in your body, your mind and your overall being? Write down some adjectives on a piece of paper. My list looks like this:

  • tense
  • aggravated
  • anxious/edgy
  • annoyed
  • tired

When you start to feel this way around other(s), it may be a red flag that your personal boundary system has been challenged. Perhaps you are letting feelings/emotions/stuff in which isn’t in fact *yours* to contend with. This is important to think about. When our boundaries are diffuse (or weak) we can let in all sorts of feelings that aren’t really ours to deal with in the first place…and in this process we give off a lot of our own personal energy…and you guessed it…this can leave you feeling exhausted, tired, anxious, aggravated, etc. It’s time to strengthen your boundaries and refocus.

I often remind my clients that as human beings we all have a finite amount of energy. Even if you think you have enough to go around, you probaby don’t! Before you enter into a place or expose yourself to individuals who might challenge your boundaries, take a few moments to really be mindful of “honoring your boundaries.” I worked with a client recently to imagine a bubble of protective/positive energy surrounding herself, allowing her to be mindful of maintaining her own mental space. Think about what you need to do to defend this personal space. Honoring your boundaries takes practice and time…the more you do it, the easier it will become.

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