Establishing limits for ourselves

Establishing limits for ourselves

Shehnaj Parveen Sarma

An integral part of being a responsible adult is establishing limits for ourselves –making choices that are in our own best interest even when they aren’t enjoyable in the moment. 

Many people know what the word “boundaries” means, but they have no idea what they are. You might think of boundaries as something like a property line or “brick wall” used to keep people out.

But boundaries are not rigid lines drawn in the sand that are clear for all to see.

Boundaries are a way to take care of ourselves. When you understand how to set and maintain healthy boundaries, you can avoid the feelings of resentment, disappointment, and anger that build up when limits have been pushed.


Start small

If you don’t have many boundaries in place already, the prospect of introducing more might seem overwhelming — so build them up slowly.

Doing so allows you to take things at a more comfortable pace, and it provides time to reflect on whether it’s heading in the right direction or if you need to make some tweaks.

Set them early

Sometimes it can be really hard to start putting boundaries in, especially in pre-existing relationships.

By setting boundaries and expectations from the very beginning, everyone knows where they stand, and feelings of hurt, confusion, and frustration can be lessened.

Be consistent

Letting boundaries slide can lead to confusion and encourage new expectations and demands among those around you.

Try keeping things consistent and steady. This helps to reinforce your original thresholds and beliefs, and it ensures those lines remain clearly established.

Be aware of social media

These platforms allow for more communication than ever, but they’ve also encouraged some considerable boundary blurring.

There’s some incredible oversharing happening research shows that over half of us are concerned that family and friends will post personal information or photos that we don’t want shared publicly.

If you deem a particular action as boundary-crossing in real life, your concerns are no less valid when it occurs digitally.

Talk – communicate your boundaries

Communication is critical in the world of boundaries, especially if someone consistently oversteps yours. While you might need to raise your concerns, these discussions need not be confrontational.

Saying NO when it doesn’t align with you

Another crucial but difficult part of setting boundaries involves learning how to say “no” to others.
Many times we feel that we owe others a dissertation-level response to why we cannot do this task, go to this event, etc. The fact of the matter is, a good boundary is an explanation in and of itself. For example you can reframe by saying I’m quite sorry, but I cannot commit to working on that project over the weekend. I appreciate you thought about me but not this time.


Establish boundaries for looking after yourself by deciding what self-care looks like to you and how you’re going to find the time to make it happen. Boundaries will help you make sure that self-care doesn’t slip to the bottom of the priority list without you having to constantly think about how and why you’re going to squeeze it in amongst everything else.

Limiting Self criticism

Habitual self-criticism is immensely self-destructive. It limits the ability for you to think critically, make decisions, or commit to a decision.

Criticism thoroughly undermines your self-confidence. Having deep self-criticism could thoroughly hurt your work life and social skills.

An overly self-critical person usually also suffers from mental health disorders more often than average.

However, how you view yourself is mostly in your control. You can prevent the many negative side effects that come along with self-criticism.

But making a conscious decision to set certain boundaries isn’t enough you must also communicate those boundaries to the people they involve.
Setting boundaries also includes letting others know what they are—not expecting others to have a crystal ball and just know what you want or do not want.
It means knowing how to expand or constrict the boundaries we set.
It’s also worth noting that a person with healthy boundaries is able to adjust their boundaries depending on the situation to allow for the appropriate level of connection. When our boundaries are too rigid, we might behave in highly defended ways to keep respectful, loving people at a distance.

In addition to setting your own boundaries, it’s important to appreciate those of others, too — even if they’re different from your own.

Shehnaj Parveen Sarma from Guwahati practicing NLP counsellor and Life Coach and has a Facebook Page called Mind Triggers related to counselling.