Having healthy boundaries is a hallmark of nurturing and loving relationships. But first, here are three key questions to help you understand the health of your relationships.
- How easily can you enforce a physical, mental, emotional boundary?
- Once communicated, is your limit being honored?
- Are you being given the space you need for your wellbeing in your relationship?
Do you find setting boundaries to be a terrifying task? Raise your hand if this is you!
The internet and therapy space is oversaturated with information on boundary setting in relationships – the why, how, and what of it all. What’s less spoken about is how to manage the guilt that might crop up while doing so, especially if you feel discomfort with all-things-boundaries.
So, why do we feel guilt when we set boundaries?
Boundaries help set limits for how people in our lives can interact with us. Everybody and their mother know that they are highly vital to our emotional health.
3 Reasons Why Guilt Shows Up When Setting Boundaries
1. You Are Afraid of Rejecting Others
For those who are not used to setting boundaries, guilt can primarily be due to a belief that boundaries are a way of rejecting others and their needs.
If a person is always the available one in their relationships, sudden withdrawal can feel like a shock to their nervous system.
An over-giving tendency in relationships and an imbalance in give-or-take dynamics reflect poor boundaries by one or both partners. Identifying such patterns early on within the relationship can go a long way in boundary setting and ultimately leads to better mental and emotional wellbeing.
The Bottom Line: setting healthy boundaries does not mean rejecting others.
2. Poor Understanding of Why Boundaries Are Necessary
Setting boundaries can feel counterintuitive and harsh if they seem unnecessary, to begin with.
Whatever your current beliefs about boundaries are, remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Edges help us to refill our cups regularly. In the long run, not having healthy boundaries can cause resentment to creep into relationships. Are some other facts about boundaries that help underscore their necessity:
- Boundaries inform people how you want to be treated. They protect you from being mistreated.
- They allow you to have the privacy and solitude you need for introspection and grow individually.
- They can help recharge your emotional reserves and protect your energy (mainly if you are an empath), giving in healthy ways within the relationship.
3. Childhood Conditioning
Most of our adult life is a byproduct of our childhood conditioning. If your wiring was around the fact that boundaries are unnecessary or wrong, chances are, you will repeat those thought patterns well into your adult life.
A good practice would be to revisit your childhood through inner child work. Try and remember what you learned as a child about boundaries. Perhaps you were not provided enough space by your early caregivers? It is also possible you understood that rigid boundaries and extreme aloof or distancing behavior are the norms?
How did the circumstances while growing up influence your idea about give-take dynamics within relationships?
Contrary to limiting beliefs surrounding boundaries, effective boundaries promote nurturing and healthy love within your closest connections.
4 Ways to Effectively Communicate Boundaries
- Speak your truth gently but firmly. Note that harsh or rude communication can be avoided when setting boundaries.
- Practice power words that effectively communicate what’s on your mind.
- It will feel uncomfortable at first. Remind yourself that growth always happens outside of your comfort zone
- If you are new to setting boundaries and it gives you anxiety, journal what and how you would like to say. If needed, lean into a trusted friend with whom you can practice enforcing your boundary.
Step Into An Empowered Version of You
Healthy boundaries are what help with upkeeping the longevity of a relationship. If you ever set a boundary and it is not honored, or you are made to feel guilty for expressing a boundary, it shows that you were right in enforcing your boundary.
Also, setting a boundary isn’t hard because other people get upset. It’s hard because we get uncomfortable with disappointing others.
Always choose yourself first. The people in your life who genuinely love you will understand this choice and even celebrate it.
Now go forth and become an empowered version of yourself through your better boundary setting.