Emotional Boundaries can be really subjective and unique. Nobody’s personal or relationship boundaries may look the same. In fact, they might look completely opposite of your own. Some boundaries may serve multiple values and spaces for a relationship or an individual. Boundaries are defined as “guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.” So boundaries are vitally important to our overall well-being. Emotional boundaries relate specifically to your emotions and can be some of the more difficult boundaries to set. Here are 10 ways you can start creating healthy emotional boundaries:
How often do you react from a space of emotion? How often do you live through your emotions unconsciously? In other words, how often are you unaware of what you truly feel, want, need, desire, or are truly seeking? The first step to creating healthy emotional boundaries we need is to OBSERVE how we feel in certain situations. This feeling, and it’s linked outcome, can manifest differently for everyone and every situation. For example, if you feel anxious, uncomfortable, or fearful in a situation then that is a signal for you to Pay Attention to something within your environment. Reacting from this uncomfortable or fearful space may cause you to avoid, run away, fight back, or get defensive. Thus, setting a boundary for yourself in this area may become extraordinarily difficult. Pay attention to what you feel, what you think, and the action you want to take from that space. Pause a moment and OBSERVE the emotion before you respond.
When you’re aware of the subconscious behaviors you engage in, you’ll be in a better space to set boundaries that apply to your specific situation. This could mean RESPONDING to a situation instead of reacting. Responding is acting from a conscious space of clarity, whereas reacting is coming from a highly emotionally-heightened space. This can also clarify for you what boundaries to set within your life. Being in the space to RESPOND to life’s difficult situations changes the relationship we have with our emotions. This figurative separation from our emotions allows us the space to view them as just a feeling rather than an all-consuming wave.
3. Take Ownership of Your Feelings
A great way to take ownership of your feelings is to use “I” statements when expressing your feelings and thoughts. For example, you might say “I feel angry” as opposed to “You made me feel angry”. This also means understanding that emotions are subjective and that others do not MAKE YOU feel anything. However, our emotions can be influenced by others’ behaviors or emotions. If this is something you’re currently experiencing, it could mean you need to set stronger or more effective emotional boundaries in that area of your life. Emotions are something we, as humans, will always experience in some capacity. However, mastering your emotions and your reaction to them is your responsibility. It is also up to you to claim ownership of them.
4. Recognize Your Physiological Response to Your Emotions
What does each emotion feel like for you? I want you to close your eyes and embrace what it feels like to be joyful. Having trouble? A great tip to immediately inducing those joyful chemicals is to smile – it physiologically tricks your mind into following suit. Now, embrace the feeling of worry, love, fear, sadness, and peace. What do they feel like? How does each emotion manifest itself within your body? What sensations do you feel? Do you feel warm? Cold? Pressure? Heaviness? Tightness? Expansion? The physiological response is a way in which your body’s biology reacts to certain emotions. This may be different for everyone and it is up to you to gain clarity on what each emotional response feels like for you. Why? So when you feel an emotion you are clear on what YOUR particular emotions feel like. This way you won’t be confused by the emotional energies or frequencies of others.
5. Don’t Blame Others for Your Emotional State
This can be one of the most difficult emotional boundaries to implement in your life. Learning not to blame others for your emotional state takes constant awareness of your thoughts, actions, and words. Similar to what happens when we don’t take ownership of our emotions, placing blame robs us of the conscious space we need to be in to accept, take responsibility, and heal. If you constantly blame others for how you feel, what you think, or how you react – you’ll never be able to evolve. When you blame others for how you’re feeling, you’re placing that personal responsibility on them when it’s yours to bear. Remember, your emotions are your responsibility, and although you desire validation, understanding, and care there is a way to communicate that without placing blame.
6. Understand That Others May Feel Differently Than You
We all crave to be seen, heard, and understood. These desires are in our nature and can drive us to have unreal emotional expectations of others. Every human being experiences emotions in their own way, based on their nurturing and upbringing. When you don’t have healthy emotional boundaries in place, it can ineffectively influence your own emotions. Understanding that others may feel differently in a similar situation shows that you respect and honor their individual space and uniqueness. This also helps to remove expectations or judgments you may place on them for not matching your own emotional space. Realize that each person has their own history, upbringing, and life situations that have put them in the space to feel and behave how they do.
7. Allow Space for Others to Feel w/o the Need to Change or Fix
Giving others space to feel their emotions is important. When we say space we don’t always mean alone time, being apart, or doing something on your own. Allowing space means not trying to fix, change, or solve their emotions or situations. Many times when people come to us from an emotional space they just want to be seen and heard. Validated. Understood. However, most people usually listen to respond with advice or a solution. Allow them the space to feel first. Share with them how you can understand how they feel based on the situation. Listen and have empathy without the need to change them. This is a great emotional boundary tip for yourself as well. Don’t forget to give yourself the space to feel, accept, and allow emotions to be as well.
8. Communicate Boundaries and Emotions
Communication is the key to relationship success! Communicating what your boundaries are as well as sharing emotions is incredibly essential. When we don’t discuss our boundaries in an open specific way it leaves room for choices to be made that don’t align with us. This can lead to ineffective or unhealthy emotional or behavioral spaces. Be open with your partner(s) about your boundaries. Be specific about each boundary and what will happen if or when that boundary is crossed. Sharing emotions can be extremely difficult. Start by naming your emotion and then share it by simply saying, “I’m feeling…” and whatever the emotion may be. This doesn’t mean you need to change it or that a solution needs to be found right then! As we discussed above, allow it space to be. Then move forward from an aware space to problem solve your situation if needed.
9. Respecting Privacy vs. “We Should Share Everything”
Each individual’s privacy is important and to some more than others. Thus, this is an important boundary to discuss. When we respect and honor our partner’s privacy, it shows that we trust them and can strengthen the bond between partners. When we’re stuck in the space of “Sharing Everything” it doesn’t leave room for us to have much privacy and that can lead to loss of trust or restfulness. There are also things some individuals don’t like or want to share, perhaps their discussions with friends or a therapist. If one partner feels the need to share everything, this can cause be difficult for both parties.
Working towards creating space for yourself and learning to better strengthen your boundaries around privacy can be incredibly helpful in these situations. This doesn’t mean everything is a secret, but it can mean that the things you want to be, totally can be. When sharing, think about what is effective in bettering your relationship.
10. Offering Support vs. Seeking to Solve/Fix
Much like allowing space for emotions, offering support can be vitally important. When you’re in a good emotional space it enables you to give support, which can change the dynamic of a conversation. This can look like validation, understanding by recognition of the facts, and offering empathy through shared similar experiences. This is NOT the time to try and solve their problem or fix their situation. In this space, you’re only giving them support through love and empathy. This can also mean mindfully listening, checking in, or just being there for someone when they need you. Not only are you allowing space for their emotions but here you are also offering compassion. If the other party indicates they’re looking for advice, still be clear when inquiring. Perhaps ask them, “Can I offer you a small piece of advice?” or “Can I offer you some feedback?” Don’t just assume people want their issues solved any time they’re looking for a supportive person to share with.
We hope this has given you a better idea of what you can do to create or alter your emotional boundaries. Each person’s boundaries will be different and That’s Okay! We all have different needs, desires, and experiences, and boundaries are a great way to respect and honor your own space while also learning how to better do that for others. Think about what emotional boundaries you already have in your relationships and which ones you want to implement? What boundaries would you add to this list? Remember to think about what it means for you if someone crosses that boundary. What action steps would you take to reestablish that or to separate yourself from the person that crossed the line? Being open, honest, and mindful of your communication is one of the best ways to share with others.
Thanks For Reading!! Please Share With Someone You Love & Keep Loving Kindly =)