Boundaries. Why they matter
Boundaries generally conjure up an image of territory and walls. However, it has an important place in our conversations about emotional health, wellbeing, and safety. The Indian culture does not offer a lot of space for boundaries. We are told to always focus on the happiness of the other person and to give in and ignore what we need. We are not taught to say no, to stand up for ourselves and our needs, and to take responsibility for ourselves.
So why are boundaries so important?
Boundaries give a sense of what is ours and what is not ours. When something belongs to us, we are responsible for it. Think of your home. If you live in an independent house, the wall denotes what is yours and not yours. You are responsible for everything that happens within the wall whether it is malfunctioning appliances, possessions, maintenance, and even people. While you can disagree with what happens outside your wall, you really cannot do much about it.
When it comes to boundaries in our lives, we decide where to draw the line. This line tells us what we can take responsibility for and what is beyond our control. Many times, when we realize that we can’t take responsibility for something out of our territory, it removes a lot of stress from our lives. You can tell your friend that you are hurt by what they said. However, you can’t make them apologize to you.
How do we set boundaries for ourselves?
- Think about what is acceptable for you: Some of us may not feel comfortable with a friend calling you every night to complain about someone you know. The feeling of discomfort tells you that you are not okay with something. Acknowledge it and then look at what you can do to ensure you are not put in that situation again.
- Say no: It’s actually okay to say no. We do not have to say ‘yes to everything that comes our way. We are allowed to say no to commitments and people. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself.
- Acknowledge that you can’t please everyone: Many of us have difficulties with boundaries because we make it our responsibility to make everyone around us happy. Acknowledging that while we can influence what others feel, we cannot take responsibility for it is important. It is impossible to please everyone and it is okay to stand up for yourself and your needs.
- Accepting that not everyone is going to like it: Many people may end up being unhappy with us because of our boundaries. That is alright. Not everyone is comfortable with boundaries. However, it is essential we set them for our own mental health and wellbeing.
By, Anika Joseph, Counselling Specialist, CMRNPS