As an adult, it’s important to set boundaries with friendships, relationships and in a professional manner as well. As a young person, I struggled a lot with setting boundaries. Let’s be honest… I was a people pleaser. I thought that it was normal to work an extra three hours and not get paid for it… and then not say anything. Or have a friend of mine be mean to me… and I was to just accept it.
I like to think of my anxiety and blog journey as also my journey to self-discovery. I learn more and more about myself each day and one of the main things that I am trying to learn as a young anxious person is how to set boundaries.
Where do I start? What if people don’t like me because of my boundaries?
Those were questions I was asking myself all the time, but in actual fact I was miserable – so why did it matter what other people thought? It was time to start taking my life back.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, what are boundaries?
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What are boundaries?
Boundaries can be both mental and physical and are set by the individual person. Each boundary can be different to each person, but it’s important that you respect other people’s boundaries, but we can come back to that later on.
Boundaries can range from strict to loose and depend on the person. Let’s look at some examples of how to set boundaries:
- You find it difficult to say no to others.
- Dependent on others for their approval and opinion.
- Oversharing personal information.
- Avoiding intimacy with others.
- Have very few, if any close relationships.
- Unlikely to ask for help when needed.
It’s important to find a healthy balance of boundaries. You can’t be lacking all will power to say no or refuse to speak to anyone. It’s about finding that balance that works for you, that’s healthy.
Some examples of healthy boundaries are:
- Value your own opinion.
- Accepting when people say no and knowing when to say no to others.
- Don’t compromise your values.
So let’s start at the beginning, of course, and look at where to start when it comes to setting boundaries.
Where to start when setting boundaries?
Setting boundaries can feel almost awkward… like you’re being difficult but in actual fact – being honest with a person is going to save you both a lot of confusion in the long run.
Start off as early as possible
If you’ve struggled with friendships in the past due to boundaries, think to yourself… when was the boundary set?
If the answer is not soon enough, then you have your problem. You cannot keep repeating the same mistake and expecting a different result. When you start to build new friendships, be open and honest about your boundaries and what is required from the other person.
*Tip – Ask the other person what their boundaries are. They may feel embarrassed to tell you without being asked. This also sets the record straight early on so there is no confusion on your end.
Be open and as honest as possible
If your friends are really true friends, they will respect your boundaries. Be as open and as honest as you possibly can. Again, it’s about creating an environment where your friendships don’t involve guessing games.
I have a friend who will not reply to my messages within days. Before I always thought she was ignoring me and it made me upset as I believed that I was the problem. After sitting down and speaking to her, she explained that she isn’t big on texting. She prefers to meet in person. I now respect that boundary and meet up with her when I want to speak to her.
If the boundary was sooner, the confusion would have been avoided.
Hear the other person out too
Friendships are two ways. If you want your boundaries respected, then respect the other persons as well. I mean it’s a two-way street, right?
The simple saying that I’ve been hearing since primary school, treat others how you would like to be treated.
Stick to your boundaries
Setting boundaries is all well and good, but if you can’t stick to them – how can you ask anyone else to?
Let’s look at an example:
Your boundary is saying no when you don’t want to say yes. If you then start saying yes to things you don’t want to do – you’re not following the boundary you set.
When my friend explained that she wasn’t a big text person, but then she continued to text me every two minutes, it would be slightly confusing.
Learn what you like and what you dislike
People change all the time. That’s how we grow and improve ourselves. Our viewpoints can change. Allow that to happen.
Unhealthy boundaries can evolve to become healthy boundaries.
The unhealthy boundary was that you avoided intimacy of any kind. This could then evolve into only being intimate with people that you trust. That is a healthy boundary that you can set for yourself.
How to set boundaries as an anxious person
As I progress through my adult life, I learn more about myself every day. We learn, grow and adapt to what is going on around us. One thing I’ve learned is to put yourself first, it’s not selfish. Looking after your own mental health is a priority and setting boundaries is a great way to do that.
Find out what you like and dislike. Discuss it with your friends to understand it more. You can maintain friendships without upsetting the other person.
What are some boundaries that you’ve set recently?