How to set healthy boundaries? And what to do when someone breaks them?

Empowerment Coaching Blog - how to set healthy boundaries

Today, another guest post with a very valuable and, above all, practical text. Its author is Kasia Fruzynska (pictured). Psychologist, trainer, and coach. In her work, she helps people get along effectively. She believes that marriage and family are the most important things we can do. She runs a blog and a Facebook group, where she proposes challenges and exercises. In the near future, she is also launching a course for people looking for a balance between work and home life.


Why do we need boundaries?

Boundaries allow us to be close and safe at the same time. You will not say to the lady in the store "but I want a hug today", but it would be good to say that to your partner. Boundaries are about what you let in and what you don't. For example, you don't eat anything that you don't understand on the packaging. To set healthy boundaries, first be aware of what you have.

What boundaries do we have?

Physical boundaries - e.g. how close to someone I like to be in a conversation, how do I take care of my space (e.g. I lock myself in a room when I work). I respect someone's border when, for example, I ask if I can touch my friend's pregnancy belly when I don't read my husband's e-mails and texts.

Mental boundaries - I say if I don't want to talk about something, I give myself time to cool down after an argument, and I don't answer prying questions (about how to do it, in a moment).

1. Exercise - what are your limits?

Think about your 3 rules, the limits you apply, and see how they serve you, e.g. I don't do business with my family, I work 7-15, etc. If you want, share your examples in a comment, maybe they will inspire others!

How do we know when someone is breaking our boundaries?

  • Usually, we feel something is wrong

  • We have discomfort ("he said strange, what did he mean?", "I don't know if I reacted well")

  • We feel anger, sometimes transferred to other people (e.g. someone at work pissed me off, I did not react as I would, and it gets to the household members or the cat😊).

How do I know if my boundaries are leaky?

  • When my friend is sad, I also get depressed

  • When someone tells me I look fat, I worry about it, even though I didn't have that feeling before

  • I cannot end relationships that do not serve me

How to deal with leaky boundaries?

  • You don't have to react right away, give yourself a few minutes and see what changes

  • It's good to remember: what the person says is about him, not about me

  • You can decide for yourself whether you agree with what the other person says, whether you allow it to yourself, or whether you want to agree to something

  • You can always go back to the situation (it wasn't fair, I don't agree, I changed my mind)

2. Exercise: marking your boundaries

If you have trouble with this, start with a small step. When someone calls you or texts you in chat, do you have a minute, ask yourself if it's a good time or say that you will answer/call back in 2 minutes. Even if you are not doing anything important at the moment. Do this to practice and see how you feel about it. If someone asks you for something at home, finish this coffee and say you need a moment.

How to know the boundaries are too tight?

  • A human being without boundaries maintains a bond but is not protected. And a man with too tight boundaries is protected, but not bonded. Neither of these states gives you true intimacy.

  • A wall in a too-tight border can be silence, anger, addictions, humor, TV, or too much work.

  • It's hard to tear down someone else's walls. This is often someone's only border protection strategy and it takes small steps.