cover image
Avatar Author 11 Aug 2023

How to set boundaries for yourself and others

Having boundaries is very important to maintain healthy relationships and for mental well-being. Being open about one’s personal limits is highly essential and often ignored and overlooked by many. Take a minute and go back to your geography classes in elementary school where your teacher demonstrated certain types of lines that demarcated States and countries. Sometimes it was a natural feature like a river that’d divide one territory from another, but most of them had invisible lines that were only visible on maps. Even though we didn’t see the boundaries, people accepted that there are different territories and how they were divided.


The whole concept of boundaries is easier said than done, especially when it comes to personal relationships. In the absence of actual physical barriers between people, the application of the concept of boundaries becomes even more challenging.


Coming to the pertinent meaning of boundaries in this context it is nothing but a way to take care of ourselves. In an ideal situation, you are able to set and maintain healthy boundaries with people to avoid feelings of resentment, disappointment, or aggression that can be triggered when limits are pushed.


What are boundaries? 


We might have seen a lot of people talking about setting boundaries frequently, but what does it actually mean? Essentially boundaries are nothing but divisions or separations that people require, sometimes physically, emotionally, or even mentally in order to feel safe, respected, and valued. 


Ultimately it means verbalising your limitations and putting forth what impacts your comfort levels. Boundaries are the deciding factors of what makes us comfortable or uncomfortable. This is often done through verbal strategies like being out front about it or clarifying your comfort level and needs. 


Another aspect of setting boundaries is learning how and meant to say no. Sometimes we overdo are the explanation for not being able to do something others want. The fact of the matter is that a good boundary is a good enough explanation in itself. It means that you are making a conscious decision, being honest, and transparent about what you want, and being able to communicate that effectively.


10 ways to set and maintain healthy boundaries for yourself and others


1. Start small: If you don’t have boundaries set for you already, adding more can seem very overwhelming. Therefore, start small and slowly by giving yourself time to reflect on whether you are heading in the right direction. Once you understand yourself better, you may need to make some tweaks here in there. 


2. Spend time on self-reflection: For a successful boundary setting, the most vital step is to understand why boundaries are important to you. The key is to navigate through the process and see how it benefits your emotional well-being. It is like being a detective for your own psychology. It so happens that sometimes people feel uncomfortable but they don’t know why. So, healthy boundaries can be formed and maintained when enough time is spent exploring what’s happening to you. 


3. The earlier the better: It is said that prevention is better than cure and nothing more fits the analogy of setting boundaries in your personal relationships. Hesitant people are aware that when you begin to set boundaries in a pre-existing relationship it can be a daunting task. Therefore, set boundaries straight away, this way it is a lot easier to work with them. When expectations and limits are set from the beginning, there are fewer chances of confusion, hurt, and misunderstandings.


4. Consistency is key: Don’t be laid back with your boundaries. If you let those slide now, then you are creating confusion among the people around you. Try and be consistent and steady with your approach and reinforce your thresholds whenever you have the opportunity.


5. Have a framework in your head: Every relationship will indeed have a different set of boundaries for people. However, listing down a few basic ones can be very helpful for you. For example, having a few hours to yourself every weekend is a basic boundary that people expect from their family, spouse, siblings, etc. 


6. Keep updating the list: While the boundaries that you have set are in place it is important to keep them up to date with your levels of comfort. Researchers have found that frequently updating healthy boundaries enhance your performance, in a workplace setting or handling relationships at home. 


7. Social Media’s inevitable presence: Social media has become an inevitable part of our lives. While it goes on and on about communication it is evident that there is some amount of boundary blurring encouraged on social media. Sometimes people don’t even intend to share so much but end up sharing it publicly. Be aware of the social media presence in your life and know that you don’t have to express yourself to social media that’s distressing you. 


 8. Talk it out: In a world where everyone is constantly ready to overstep your boundaries, communication becomes critical. Keep in mind that all the discussions regarding boundaries don’t have to be confrontational. Let’s say your friend has sent you over 20 messages to get in touch. Instead of taking a confrontational tone, you may raise your concerns in a gentle assertive manner. “I see that you want to get in touch with me but the best thing to do right now is to drop me a message and I will surely get back to you when I can”, is a response that gently nudges on their overstepping behaviour while simultaneously highlighting your threshold. 


9. Be your own cheerleader: Strong foundation of boundaries comes from having a bit of love for yourself. If there is a notion in your head that you are worthless and undeserving of happiness then it will be very difficult for you to even realise the boundaries you require from people. Engage in activities that give you pleasure and feed your heart with happiness. Only when you can build self-worth and self-value within, you can establish boundaries to maintain your mental well-being.  


10. Perspective on things: Going too far with boundaries will lead to overthinking and eventually impact your emotional well-being. It is important to gain perspective on things and get to a level of healthy boundaries. 


What about others’ boundaries? 


Just like setting your own boundaries, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate those of others too. Unfortunately, no magic will reveal to you what their boundaries are. In that case, it is best to just ask instead of being confrontational about it. It all comes down to a bit of common sense as well. If your friend doesn’t want to see a movie it is best not to pester them until the point that they cave in. Or if your partner hates social media, it is quite obvious that they won’t be posting a couple of pictures all across various platforms.


It is natural to be concerned about whether you may seem unfriendly or confrontational while setting and maintaining boundaries. But it’s important to remember that there is a way to maintain them without upsetting those you care about. Boundaries are essential and you should certainly not feel guilty about setting them. They are nothing but a form of self-care where we actively make an effort to keep our emotional state at ease. 


Found this article helpful? Do not hesitate to reach us for any queries related to psychology. Counsel India specializes in providing curated courses on various fields in psychology that are practical and have an assured job safety feature! Check our website to know more, or even better, send your query to and we will get back to you promptly. 


Counsel India is a one-stop mental health experience where you get practical courses on psychology, mental health assistance, and much more! Write to us to find our more.

Related Posts

Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *