What even are healthy boundaries?!

What even are healthy boundaries?!

We’ve probably all seen those messages from Jonah Hill to his then girlfriend, Sarah Brady, on his ‘boundaries’ and it’s raised lots of discussions around healthy boundaries and how we can implement them into our relationships. A lot of ‘therapy language’ has found its way into our daily life, partly due to social media, and it can sometimes be confusing to know what’s helpful and what’s not!

At Light LDN, we know our relationships with our loved ones hugely impact our lives and our confidence so we wanted to share some insights into boundaries which can help us all build stronger and more meaningful relationships. 

In the world of toxic Tik Tok ‘therapy’, let’s look at what healthy boundaries are and why they’re important for us.

What are boundaries?

In essence, boundaries are a guideline for how we like to be treated and what behaviours and actions we’re willing to accept. You might have been accused in the past of being a ‘people pleaser’ or, perhaps, conversely been accused of being ‘too rigid’’ which are both a sign you might want to explore boundaries some more.

They are how we maintain our sense of self, emotional wellbeing and, importantly, how we can maintain relationships that thrive rather than those that feel like a drain on our energy. We all know that feeling of coming home from a dinner with a friend and realising you feel emotionally exhausted and that the other person spent the whole time talking about themselves!

Healthy boundaries can be applied into all aspects of life including our time, personal space, physical relationships, finances, social media. It’s not just about learning to say no to things, it’s also about understanding what your needs and wants are in the first place. Boundaries are really about saying ‘my emotional wellbeing comes first to me and here’s some guidelines about how I can make that happen!’

Some examples of boundaries?

With a friend - saying ‘that restaurant is a bit pricey for me at the moment. I’d love to see you so how about here instead?’

On a first date - saying no when someone tries to initiate physical contact if you’re not ready (rather than feeling you have to go along with it)

With parents - setting up a weekly call with them rather than feeling annoyed they message you repeatedly every single day 

At work - not having work emails on your phone so you allow yourself proper time off in the evenings 

Some things to remember if you struggle to implement boundaries:

  • You can’t control how someone responds to your boundary. A boundary is an invitation you’ve offered to someone to improve the relationship and it’s up to them how they choose to receive it. You’ve done your part!
  • Healthy boundaries aren’t selfish, they take a lot of courage! If we aren’t familiar with implementing boundaries it can feel like a huge step to suddenly say no to someone we’ve always said yes to. It takes a huge amount of courage to decide it’s time to stick up for ourselves and take control of certain situations! Practising boundaries with people who make us feel safe is a great starting point - even suggesting an alternative restaurant is a step in the right direction.
  • Just because it’s always been that way, it doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way. This particularly applies to family relationships where boundaries can often feel the hardest place to implement! If you aren’t feeling fulfilled by certain situations or how certain conversations always go then you have the power to interrupt that narrative and change it. It might initially feel uncomfortable but it will be worth it in the long run. 

  • A few questions to ask yourself to start exploring boundaries:

    • Are there people or situations in my life I struggle to say no to?
    • Who or what gives me energy?
    • What areas of my life do I feel exhausted by?
    • What and who makes me feel safe, supported, and valued?
    • What is one thing I could do today to put myself first?
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