Emotional boundaries can be really subjective and unique. No person’s or relationships’ boundaries may look the same. There are also some boundaries that serve multiple values and spaces for individuals. 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 pretty important and vital 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? Or in other words unaware of what you truly feel, need, desire, want or are seeking. The first step to creating the healthy boundaries we need is to OBSERVE the ways in which we feel in certain situations. This can mean a different feeling for everyone and a different outcome. For example, if you feel anxious, uncomfortable, or fearful in a situation then that is a signal to you to pay attention to something within your environment. If you react from this emotion you may avoid, run away, fight back or get defensive. Then creating a boundary 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 react.
When you are aware of the subconscious behaviors that you engage in you will be in a better space to then set a boundary that applies to your specific situation. This could mean RESPONDING as opposed to reacting to a situation. This can also really make it clear to you what boundary to set within your life. While allowing you the clarity to act from a conscious space as opposed to an emotionally heightened one. Being in the space to RESPOND to a situation within life changes our relationship to our own emotions. This also separates us from our emotions giving us clarity to view it as just a feeling rather than an all-consuming wave.
3. Ownership of Your Own Feelings
This can look like using “I” statements when expressing feelings and thoughts. For example, saying “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. Which could mean setting stronger or more effective emotional boundaries in your own life. We will always be feeling, emotion carrying human beings. However, learning your emotions and the reactions from them is your responsibility. It is also up to you to claim ownership of them.
4. Recognizing Your Physiological Responses to Emotions.
What does each emotion feel like for you? Go ahead, try it close your eyes and think of the emotion of joy, then worry, love, fear, sadness, and peace. What do they feel like, internally within your body? What sensations do you feel? Do you feel warm? Cold? Pressure? Heaviness? Tightness? Expansion? A 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. Therefore you won’t be confused by the emotional energies or frequencies of others.
5. Learning Not to Blame Others for Emotional States.
This can be a really difficult emotional boundary to implement. It takes constant awareness of your thoughts, actions, and words. Very much like ownership of our emotions, placing blame robs us of the conscious space we can then be in to accept, take responsibility, and then heal. If we constantly blame others for how we feel, what we think or how we react we will never be able to shift into change. We are placing that personal responsibility on others when we blame them for how we are feeling. Remember that your emotions are your responsibility and although we desire understanding, validation, and care there is a way for us to communicate that without placing blame.
6. Understanding Others Will Feel Differently Than You.
We all crave to be understood, seen and heard. It is in our nature and it also drives us at times to have emotional expectations of others. Each human being experiences emotions in their own way. Based on their own nurturing and upbringing. When we don’t have healthy emotional boundaries set, it can lead to ineffectively influencing our own emotions. Understanding that others may feel their own way in a similar situation shows that we respect and honor their own individual space and uniqueness. It also takes off expectations and judgments we may place on them for not matching our own emotional space. Realize that each person has their own history, their own upbringing, and their own life situations, that have put them in the space to feel and behave the way in which they do.
7. Allowing 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 their emotional spaces they really 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 tip for yourself as well. The space to feel, accept, and allow emotions to be.
8. Communicating Boundaries and Emotions.
Communication is key to relationship success! And 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 sure to be specific about your boundary and what will happen when or if that boundary is crossed. When it comes to emotions sharing them can be difficult. Start by naming your emotion and then share it simply by saying, “I’m feeling…”. This doesn’t mean you need to change it or that a solution needs to be found right now! Like 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 subjectively important. Some people prefer more than others. So, this is an important boundary to discuss. When we respect and honor our partner’s privacy it shows that we trust them and it can really strengthen the bond between partners. When we are stuck in the space of “Sharing Everything” it doesn’t leave much room for us to have our own form of privacy and that can lead to loss of trust or restfulness. There are also some things that individuals don’t like or want to share. Much like discussions with friends or therapists. It can be difficult being the partner who wants the information. So working towards creating space for yourself and learning to better strengthen your own boundaries around privacy can be incredibly helpful. This doesn’t mean everything is a secret, and it means 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 we are in our own emotional space to give support, this 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 to solve their problem or fix their situation. In this space, we are only giving them support through love, and empathy. This can also mean just mindfully listening, checking in or just being there for someone when they need us. Not only are you allowing space for their emotions but here you are also offering compassion. If your partner is looking for advice 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 always assume people want their issues solved many times they are just looking for a supportive person to share with.
We hope this has given you a better idea of what you can do to alter or create your own emotional boundaries. Each person’s boundaries will be different and that’s Okay! We all have different needs, desires, and lives 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 would 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.
Keep Loving Kindly