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Do you have healthy boundaries in your life and in your career?  How do you set healthy boundaries in your life?  It is not an easy task at times and can be intimidating.  For example, telling people what you need might seem selfish or rude.  Setting healthy boundaries is an important part of establishing your own identity and is a crucial aspect of self‑care and well-being.  Boundaries allow us to feel safe and respected both physically and emotionally.  Honouring our limits helps us to take better care of ourselves, builds trust, prevents burnout, and infuses more authenticity into our relationships. 

One definition source stated. “A boundary is a limit or space between you and the other person.  The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is, of course, to protect and take good care of you.  Healthy boundaries are those boundaries that are set to make sure you are mentally and emotionally stable”.

Boundaries may be rigid, loose, or even non-existent.  A complete lack of boundaries may indicate that you do not have a strong identity or are entangled with someone else.  Specifically, healthy boundaries can help people define their individuality and can indicate what they will and will not hold themselves responsible for.

What do healthy boundaries look like?

The types of boundaries you set will depend on your home and work environments.  That is, one person’s healthy boundaries with a romantic partner will be different from that same person’s healthy boundaries with a boss or work colleague.  There should be personal and professional boundaries. 

The first step to setting a healthy boundary – say ‘NO’ simply but firmly to something you do not want to do.  Do not feel that you need to explain.  There is no need to overexplain as everyone has the right to determine what they do and do not want to do.

This brings up another important point: Keep the focus on yourself.   Instead of saying to a colleague, “You have to stop bothering me/calling me after work”, you could say, “I need some time to myself when I arrive home from work.  We can talk tomorrow at a suitable time”. Someone who is not used to setting boundaries might feel guilty or selfish when they first start out, but setting boundaries is necessary for mental health and well-being.   Start setting simple yet firm boundaries with a graceful or neutral tone.  This may feel uncomfortable at first, but as you being to take care of yourself, the personal power you gain will make it easier.

Here are some examples:

  • Use simple, firm and direct language.
  • Understand your needs and how to assert them.
  • Practice saying “No”.
  • I have a right to ask for ________ because I need ________.
  • It is OK to protect my time by________ because I need ________.
  • To set a boundary with an angry person.  “You may not yell at me.  If you continue, I will leave the room.”
  • To set a boundary with personal phone calls at work. “I have decided to take all personal calls in the evening so I can get my work done during the day.  I will need to call you later.”
  • To say no to extra commitments.  “Although this company is important to me, I need to decline your request for volunteer help to honour my family’s needs.”
  • To set a boundary with someone who is critical.  “It’s not okay with me that you comment on my weight.  I would like to ask you to stop.”
  • To buy yourself time when making tough decisions.  “I will have to sleep on it, I have a personal policy of not making decisions right away.”

This graphic summarises personal boundary management.  You deserve to take care of yourself!  So, next time you are considering setting a boundary ask yourself – “What do I need to do (if anything) to regain my personal power or stand up for myself?”

Healthy Boundary Management