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  • Writer's pictureLalita Dileep

Building healthy boundaries - learning to say No

Recognizing the need to set and enforce limits

Not being tied down

Delineating boundaries can be liberating. It sounds counter intuitive, but it is true. Once we embrace them, we experience freedom, reclaim our personal space and focus on our own strengths and limitless potentials. This is a nebulous concept to adopt not as obvious as a physical fence or a gigantic "no trespassing sign" but an invisible armor.

Personal boundaries can be challenging to navigate but communicating them is essential for our health and welfare. Creating these boundaries are a barometer of emotional health. Yet, we shy from setting up clear limits for ourselves for fear of cutting off people. It takes an awakened soul to realize that establishing the distance allows for greater closeness. Many of us find it hard to say No to the ones closest to us, leading them to take advantage of us. Like the elephant in the room, discussing boundaries in close relationships like marriages, friendships, siblings, co-workers, partnerships and such is a taboo topic.

Basics & Benefits

“Boundaries give a sense of agency over one’s physical space, body, and feelings,” says Jenn Kennedy, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “We all have limits, and boundaries communicate that line.” Experts have further explained that the word “boundary” can be misleading. It conveys the image of separation. Instead boundaries in reality are connecting points since they provide healthy rules for navigating relationships, intimate or professional.

As this idea evolves and unfolds in our mind's eye, creating boundaries gives us the luxury to make ourselves a priority, be it in self-care, relationships or at work. They also allow us to conserve our emotional energy and firm up our own sense of self worthiness. Boundaries give us space to grow and be vulnerable. This is priceless.

Personal & Flexible

Knowing and doing are often two different things. Life as we know it today is complex and multi - layered. Most of us deal with it by juggling multiple stuff all the time, packing our schedules, telling ourselves that we are efficient. By setting boundaries and bending them if the need arises, we rule out the toxicity that accumulates and stop expending energy pacifying or pleasing others.

No can be a complete sentence. This is true but it frightens me, because I imagine that I have to add some justification to that pronouncement. "We might be hesitant to say no without offering more info, but it’s not necessary", adds Steven Reigns, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Learning to be assertive is one of the trademarks of valuing your personal space. Boundaries can be seen as fortifying our relationships with others rather than building walls to keep people out. It can mimic our front door, be a gate keeper that guards our emotional, mental well being. And when we build our own boundaries we become sensitive to and recognize the ones others have constructed. Is this something you have encountered in your interactions? Are your boundaries shaped by family dynamics, life experiences or your heritage? Do you struggle with setting up boundaries or like me, have trouble sustaining them consistently? Lets share our stories and grow as a community.

We are stronger together


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