Social Wellbeing

How to Create Boundaries in These 5 Areas of Life

Bubble boy may have been on to something, and he didn’t even know it. Sometimes people are in your bubble and it is overwhelming. Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. How can you tell someone that you need space without telling them to “go away”?

The Challenge

Think about an aspect of your life that has you feeling overwhelmed. It can be in your work life, friendships, family, etc. Pick one thing that you want to set a boundary on, and take action to do it. Journal how you felt before the boundary, after it, and if it has helped. 

It may seem distant to think about being invited to an outing or event or even interacting with those outside of your everyday circle. Many are practicing self-quarantine or are on strict shelter-in-place orders. But, they won’t last forever. This time can be used to reflect on the relationships and boundaries we set (or don’t) with those we care about (or don’t) and how we protect our wellbeing and personal interests.

First, let’s set the bar for boundaries. Here’s what they are NOT:

1. A form of rejection. It is ok to protect your peace, people will understand that it’s not rejecting them.

2. Permanent. Boundaries can be adjusted to accommodate different stages of your life. Some boundaries won’t work with every season just like fashion.

3. The same for everyone. Everyone has different boundaries — they reflect who we are, our needs, and our expectations.

Setting healthy boundaries means breaking relational patterns, which feels scary and overwhelming. In hindsight, it’s essentially being assertive and saying enough is enough when what you’re experiencing no longer supports what you need, believe in or desire.

If some of these phrases to the left hit home for you, try to set a boundary the next time you feel it is needed.

Here are strong examples of phrases and actions that set boundaries in different aspects of your life:

Social Media:

  • Limiting time on social media.
  • Unfollowing accounts that don’t promote your wellbeing.
  • Block accounts that post rude or hurtful content.
  • Take a detox when your mental health is impacted.

Friends:

  • “I only have an hour for brunch today.”
  • “Thanks for the invite, but tonight I need some me time.”
  • “I am not ok with you making jokes about my insecurities.”
  • “I don’t feel comfortable talking about people behind their backs.”

Romantic Relationship:

  • “I expect us to contribute equally to finances.”
  • “Thanks for the invite; tonight I am hanging with my friends.”
  • “I understand your frustration, but I expect you to speak about my family with respect.”
  • “Let’s have dinner without being on our phones.”

Family:

  • “I appreciate your input, but I am going to make this decision on my own.”
  • “I will no longer be the middle man of family feuds.”
  • “Commenting on my weight is not ok, please stop.”

Work:

  • Responding to work emails only during work hours.
  • Take lunch on your own to run errands instead of joining office lunch.
  • Block off time on your calendar and stick to it.

Tools Needed

An open mind, notebook or journal space, and a pen.

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