“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.”
Have you ever said yes to doing something when you really wanted to say no? Picked up an extra shift at work when asked, knowing you had no desire or need to? Have you known it was in your best interest to spend time alone, but have been persuaded to join for a lively night out, only to wake up the next morning exhausted? Do you have a friend or family member that calls constantly, only to talk nonstop about their issues without ever checking in on you?
These instances sound draining, because they are! Setting boundaries can help you feel more energized. Boundaries can be set with: yourself, friends, family, a romantic partner, and in the workplace.
Saying no can be uncomfortable, so we carry on with doing something that we don’t actually want to do. When we drain ourselves doing something we don’t actually want to do, we may then lack energy to do the thing we really want to do.
The moment of discomfort is worth it. There are polite ways to turn down an offer. Some examples are:
“Thank you so much for inviting me, I would love to join, but I have plans with myself tonight.”
“I appreciate the offer, I will have to pass this time.”
“I am going to take a bit of time for myself, so I will be out of reach for a few days.”
“I’m not available right now. We can talk later.”
Check out this informative page for simple ways to say no.
Stand firm in your response! Boundaries may make you feel guilty at first, which is normal. Setting healthy boundaries may result in: losing some relationships, improving some relationships, creating relationships that make you feel happy, and improving your ability to be assertive.
Boundaries can be crossed emotionally, sexually, mentally, and physically. You may have people in your life who attempt to push your boundaries. For some, boundaries may be a new concept, in this case perhaps start with very thick boundaries. Thin boundaries can be persuaded. Note the difference...
Person 1: “You should sleepover tonight!”
Person 2 with thick boundaries: “Thanks for the invite, I am going home soon. I have plans and am sticking to them.”
Person 2 with thin boundaries: “Oh, that sounds so fun! I would love to but I think I should probably go soon…”
Practice this with small decisions. If a friend asks you where you want to go out to eat, instead of saying you don’t care, pause and make a decision. If your housemate asks you if you’d like the AC on or the windows open, pause and make a decision. This is a great place to start. You can also ask dear friends to hold you accountable as you develop your skills in setting boundaries. “I’m working on my boundaries, if you ask me a question, would you please be sure I give you an answer? It would really help me!”
If your boundaries have been crossed and trust has been violated, you have every right to remove people from your life. It takes strength and courage to drop into what is best for you, and remove experiences and people that are not honoring your boundaries. “The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are the ones who benefited from you having none.”
Boundaries are a powerful tool that can be life changing. For more information on boundaries, check out Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Tawwab. You can check out her Instagram at @NedraTawaab. Another tool for setting boundaries may be seeking the help of a licensed individual clinical social worker or mental health counselor.
Meagan Visnaskas is a licensed massage therapist at the NH Health & Wellness Center. She is passionate about sharing what she learns as a client of talk therapy. She has been trained in deep tissue, reflexology, somatic massage, Swedish massage, craniosacral therapy, cupping, and Thai massage stretching. She is a registered yoga instructor and certified Reiki Master Teacher. To schedule a session or for more information, please call 603-801-2777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.