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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ashley Jacobson

Exploring Your Boundary Style: A Guide to Setting Healthy Boundaries

setting boundaries
setting boundaries

Everyone has boundaries that they use in their everyday lives. There are many types of boundaries and sometimes creating healthy boundaries can be difficult. Boundaries define what is acceptable and what is not in a relationship. It is possible to have different boundary types in different relationships. Creating healthy boundaries are ideal and will typically reflect your values. For example, if someone values family time, then they might set strict boundaries at their work. It is important to recognize that your boundaries are yours and are often unique to you. It can be helpful to know your boundaries before entering situations. By doing this, you are less likely to do something that you are not comfortable with. The types of boundaries are described below:

Porous Boundaries

  • Overly trusting of others, including strangers

  • Oversharing personal information

  • Difficulty saying “no” to others

  • Overly involved in others’ problems

  • Avoiding conflict by giving in to others

  • Does not assert personal values

  • Communicates passively

Rigid Boundaries

  • Very untrusting of others

  • Very guarded with personal information

  • Detached from others’ problems

  • Avoids conflict by pushing others away

  • Inflexible personal values

  • Communicates aggressively

  • Says “no” to others most of the time

  • Keeps most people at a distance

Healthy Boundaries

  • Shares personal information appropriately

  • Able to say “no” when needed

  • Supports others without being too involved

  • Values both own and others opinions

  • Takes time to build trust with others

  • Accepts conflict as a normal part of life

  • Stands by personal values, but can adapt

  • Communicates assertively

Most people will have a mix of different boundary types. For example, someone could have healthy boundaries at work, porous boundaries in romantic relationships, and a mixture of all three within their families. The setting heavily impacts the appropriateness of the boundary (i.e., what’s appropriate to say when you are with friends might not be appropriate when your’e at work).

Creating Healthy Boundaries

When someone has healthy boundaries, they will be able to say “no” to others when they want to but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships. To help foster healthy boundaries, it is important to know your limits before becoming involved in a situation. You should know what is acceptable to you and what isn’t. It is helpful to be as specific as possible. It is also helpful to listen to your emotions. If you notice feelings of resentment or discomfort, try to understand what they are telling you about the situation. For example, resentment can sometimes be traced to feelings of being taken advantage of. Other tips to help create healthy boundaries include knowing your values, having self-respect, having respect for others, being assertive, and considering the long view. Considering the long view is understanding that some days you will give more than you take and other days you will take more than you give. However, if one outweighs the other a majority of the time, that could be an indication that there is a problem with your boundaries.

How to Communicate “no”

It is important to remember that you always have the right to say “no” . When communicating this, you want to make sure you express yourself clearly and without ambiguity, so there is no doubt about what you want. To do this, you might make statements such as:

  • I’m not comfortable with this

  • Please don’t do that

  • I can’t do that for you

  • I’ve decided not to

  • This doesn’t work for me

When you are communicating your boundaries, you also want to utilize confident body language. This would include facing the other person, making eye contact, and using a steady tone of voice at an appropriate volume. Planning ahead and thinking about what you want to say and how you will say it will help to make you feel more confident when you enter the situation. When stating your boundaries, you also want to be respectful. It is best to avoid yelling or giving the silent treatment. It is okay to be firm but your message will be best received if you are respectful. Understanding and listing to the other individual in the relationship is also a key part and when appropriate a compromise might be a good course of action in a relationship.

setting boundaries

When To Seek Additional Support

Understanding your boundary style and creating change to implement healthy boundaries can be a difficult process. A therapist can help promote boundary setting and practice boundary setting techniques with individuals in therapy. By practicing setting boundaries with a therapist, this will make it easier to implement in other relationships. Therapy can also help individuals process any emotions that may come up with boundary setting, such as frustration and anxiety.

At Balanced Minds Psychology & Wellness we specialize in assisting individuals navigating life’s challenges. To learn more about me and the services I provide, checkout my profile. If you are ready to start the therapy process, contact us today to start a free consultation.


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