“Boundaries represent awareness, knowing what the limits are and then respecting those limits.” David W. Earle

Boundaries are the limits and guidelines we set in our lives to create a sense of healthy personal space, safety, and well-being. Boundaries are not selfish. The boundaries we set are helpful to living life well and on our own terms. It is our job to communicate them well and stick to them. Boundaries are categorized or grouped as emotional, physical, mental, social, and professional boundaries.

Because the word “boundaries” can be a harsh term for some or trigger others, I choose to use the term “personal ground rules.” It is a term that feels more workable for me so that I can implement them consistently in “the game of life.”

Because my ground rules are tied to my values, I can make some allowances, yet I don’t stray too far from my core needs. This allows me to stay true to myself and to be dependable. I give a “true bounce,” minimizing confusion or mixed messages. Finding that balance between being too open to others and preserving behavior that serves me well and clarifies expectations, takes awareness, practice, and a commitment to your well-being.

3 Obstacles that can get in the way of having good boundaries:

1. Fear of conflict: Many of us avoid setting firm boundaries because we fear confrontation, conflict, or rejection. Having porous boundaries can result in resentment at the expense of our own well-being.

2. People pleasing: We have a habit of prioritizing other’s needs above our own. This can also cause resentment and possible burnout because our needs are unmet.

3. Unrealistic expectations: Setting unrealistic expectations can lead to our boundaries being violated Make sure they are within your capacities and capabilities, and are communicated clearly.

How to improve your boundaries:

Self-Reflection: Take time to explore and identify your limits. My favorite phrase is, “I can do this, but I can’t do that.” It gives me the courage to own my limits unapologetically. It also helps me communicate clearly. This points back to one of my big passions, prioritizing self-care and taking care of myself.

Effective communication: This takes practice, and we can feel vulnerable. Yet, being clear is kind, according to Brené. Brown. People know where they stand with you and allow you more ease in holding to what matters. People are not mind readers. Clarity around your needs and expectations is actually helpful!

Reevaluate and adjust: As you practice and improve holding to your boundaries and expectations, you will be able to adjust them as you experience more personal growth and well-being.

I love talking about boundaries because it can be a prickly subject. Yet, boundaries create a structure and framework that is necessary for others to be in a relationship with you.

As I walk out my journey of healing from my cancer surgery and treatment, I have had to sharpen what I “can and cannot do.” I have had to say “no” to some big commitments I have made. I do NOT like letting others down, yet if I don’t hold to my boundaries I prolong my healing and well-being. At the end of the day, isn’t personal growth, self-care and self-respect a beautiful thing to have active in your life and to model for others?

If this topic stirs something within you and you want more information like this and to be in a community of like-minded women, please click on the link below to join Circle of Trust.

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Betsy will be stepping in as the Executive Chapter Director for the Colorado Springs Engaging Speakers chapter in early 2024! Check out local and virtual events here: Engaging Speakers. Let Betsy know if you have any questions.