How to Set Boundaries In Every Area of Your Life
Thu Oct 19 2023
Mon Nov 20 2023
The Personal Development School
Boundaries are very important for your life. You can't have a balance with yourself, with others (family, friends, partner) or areas (like work) if you don't create a boundary between them all.
That's why it's essential to set up boundaries on each area of your life.
Let's look at how you can do that.
But first: what are boundaries?
What are Boundaries?
Boundaries are defined as the art of tuning into yourself and your needs in the presence of others, and they’re crucial to a healthy, high-functioning relationship. People with a secure attachment style tend to have solid boundaries for the most part, while other attachment styles have a harder time setting and maintaining clear and fair boundaries.
Not only will learning to set healthy boundaries improve your relationship, but it can also help you heal from the trauma that led to forming that insecure attachment style in the first place. Ultimately, learning to set boundaries is a helpful tool for becoming a more securely attached individual.
With that in mind, here’s your guide to setting boundaries based on your attachment style.
What Boundary Struggle Typically Look Like Based On Your Attachment Style
There are four attachment styles, each one with different characteristics. How you approach boundaries depends on your attachment style. Let's take a look at each one below:
If you have an anxious preoccupied attachment style, you probably have a hard time setting boundaries. Individuals who are anxiously attached have a fear of abandonment, so they tend to be people pleasers.
If you have a fearful avoidant attachment style, you may think you’re good at setting boundaries but actually struggle with them quite a bit. People with a fearful, avoidant attachment style often grew up with a caregiver who had unpredictable moods and often did everything they could to connect with them. For this reason, they will sometimes set boundaries only when they’re angry or afraid and have a hard time enforcing them.
If you have a dismissive avoidant attachment style, you may have a tendency to set severe, sweeping boundaries. These boundaries tend to be too extreme for the situation and can lead them to withdraw completely.
The Personal Development School has a course on setting boundaries, which is included in the all-access pass. We can provide you with important, in-depth tools for creating healthy and safe boundaries. In the meantime, these tips can help.
How to Set Boundaries In Romantic Relationships
How to set healthy sexual boundaries
Sex and intimacy are some of the top things couples argue about—so setting boundaries around them is a good idea. To set healthy sexual boundaries, sit down and have an open and honest conversation with your partner. Ask them how often they expect to have sex, and then share your own expectations. Together, you can hopefully come up with a compromise and boundary that you both feel good about.
How to set boundaries around family members
Establishing expectations around how much time your partner spends with your family can be tricky, and often a source of conflict. If your partner expects you to attend every family event and that feels like too much for you, you can try saying something like, “I’m more than happy to go to most events with your family. But I’m also someone who really needs their alone time. How about I see your family three times a month, and take any extra time for myself while you spend time with them?”
How to set financial and material boundaries
Money is another common source of conflict in romantic relationships, particularly if you’re at the point where you might be sharing a bank account or own property together. Some people have a tendency to spend a lot of money, while others are more frugal.
Our attitudes around money are often formed in childhood, so setting boundaries around finances can be a great way to avoid conflict and make it so that you’re both getting what you want out of your financial situation. Try saying something like, “I’d really enjoy having a monthly check-in with you where we look at our budget, decide what our long-term goals are, and see how we’re doing with spending.”
If you want to set a firmer boundary around spending, discuss opening up a shared credit card with your partner, so there’s more transparency around what each of you is spending.
How to set boundaries around texting
Imagine your partner always expects you to be available via text. So they text you all day long, expecting a response, even when you’re at work. To set a boundary, try saying something like, “Hey, I love that you want to talk to me all the time. But at work, it’s hard to always respond since I’m tied up with so many things. You can still feel free to send texts, but I won’t be able to respond immediately.”
How to Set Boundaries At Work
How to set boundaries around availability
In the old days, we were done working for the day after leaving the office. Now that email and different chat platforms are accessible 24/7, working hours almost seem to be a thing of the past.
If your boss expects you to be available to work around the clock, set a firm but polite boundary with a statement like, “At night and on the weekends, I’m spending time with my family, so I won’t be able to check or respond to emails. I also can’t take on last-minute projects that will compromise family time. But during the workday, you know where to find me!”
How to set boundaries around office gossip
Studies show that gossip drives social bonding, so the urge to gossip about coworkers and managers is a completely natural one. But gossip can also be damaging, lower your morale around work, and create a toxic workplace.
If you have a colleague who always comes to you with office gossip, set a boundary with a statement like, “I really value our friendship and love talking to you, and you know I love to gossip occasionally. But sometimes gossiping makes me feel bad—so maybe we can work on talking about other things more.”
How to set boundaries around workload
Sometimes, managers will pile on work without realizing how much pressure they put on their employees. This can sometimes be an easier boundary to set, as employers may just be unaware of how much work you have.
To set a boundary, say something like, “I’m so passionate about the work we’re doing here, but I have a lot on my plate at the moment, and for that reason, I sometimes feel like I end up sacrificing quality. Is it possible to hand this project off to someone else?”
How to Set Boundaries With Family
How to set boundaries around texting and phone call expectations
Some family members prefer to be in touch all the time, while others need space. If you find that you’re constantly fielding phone calls from a family member (or family members), try setting a clear boundary by saying something like, “It’s easier for me to talk regularly if we do it over text, and then we can have a chat over the phone once a week.”
Or you can say something like, “I love talking to you, but talking to you every day can be difficult because I have so many other demands. How about we try every other day, or once a week?” You can also suggest more creative ways to communicate, like over email or even writing letters to each other.
How to set boundaries around time spent together
If you feel the expectation for the amount of time your family wants to spend with you is extreme, set a boundary. Consider saying something like, “I love seeing you, but I have a lot going on in my life outside the family. It would work best for me if we saw each other XX times per week/month.”
How to Set Boundaries With Friends
How to set boundaries around time spent together
Friendships are actually quite similar to romantic relationships in the sense that both parties love spending time together. But sometimes, one friend feels the need to spend more time than the other friend.
If you’re the friend who feels like you need more space, you can set a boundary by saying something like, “I’m a planner and I have a lot going on, so it would be easier for me to plan out when we’ll see each other. If you want to look at the upcoming month now, we can figure out when we’re both available.” This way, you can set a boundary around how much time you spend together while also letting them know they’re important to you and that you still want to see them.
How to set boundaries around discussing issues in one friend’s life
One common issue that pops up in friendships is that one friend is going through something, and the relationship becomes very uneven. Suddenly, the other friend feels like they’re just a sounding board for their friend, and they’re not getting much out of the relationship. This can be very draining.
If this sounds familiar, set a boundary. Say, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and I always want to do my best to listen and help. But it’s tough for me to hear about it all the time. It would be helpful to talk about other things from time to time—I’d love to talk about some things going on in my life, too.”
How to Get Clear On Your Boundaries
While the idea of setting boundaries is a great one—not to mention an incredibly important one—sometimes people have a hard time getting clear on what their boundaries are in the first place. Remember, your boundaries will vary depending on whether you change attachment style.
Here’s how to better understand when a boundary needs to be put into place, and how to set it.
Identify a feeling. Setting a boundary starts with identifying why you’re feeling a certain way in the first place. If you feel upset and violated when your boss asks you to take on a work project at the last minute that will require you to work all night, that’s a sign that a boundary needs to be set.
Identify why the feeling hurts. Next, why does this feeling hurt? Maybe you’re afraid you’ll lose sleep or being blamed if the project doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to.
Identify what needs to happen instead. What would make you feel better? Would it be having three days to complete the project, instead of 12 hours?
Express or negotiate your boundary. Now it’s time to actually set your boundary. You can practice writing this out ahead of time if that helps. Start by validating their feeling with a statement like “I understand you’re under a lot of pressure, too,” and then express what your boundary is with a statement like “I need three days instead of one.” Explain why—you have obligations at home, the quality of your work will go down, or both—and ask them to please respect that.
If you expect this conversation to be more of a negotiation, you can start by asking for more time than you need, like four days, for example. From there, the two of you may be able to land on three days as a compromise.
If you want to continue to strengthen your boundaries, you can check out The Personal Development School’s course Setting Boundaries to End Compulsive People-Pleasing and Create Authentic Connections.
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