What are Boundaries?
Boundaries are the guidelines and expectations we identify for ourselves about how we’d like to be treated by others and what actions we’ll take if someone oversteps those limits.
We learn how to set boundaries as children through modeling from the adults around us and through the experiences we have growing up. What were the messages you received about saying “no”? Was your “no” respected? Did you get in trouble for saying “no” to adults? These kinds of questions can tell us a lot about the training we received about boundaries and autonomy. For a more in depth discussion about different types of boundaries and how to set them, check out this blog post about boundaries that I wrote a while back.
Typically when we think about boundaries we think about the boundaries we have with other people, but sometimes the boundaries we need to set are actually with ourselves. These boundaries are called internal boundaries. In this post you will learn what internal boundaries are and why it is important to have them.
Self-Awareness is Crucial
When it comes to setting healthy boundaries—whether that be with others or with ourselves—one of the biggest obstacles that can stand in our way is a lack of self-awareness. If we aren’t sure what our truth is, what our needs are, what is OK with us and what isn’t, what feels good and what doesn’t, we simply can’t set healthy boundaries. Why? Because we don’t even know what we want or need!
And the thing is, when we aren’t clear on our boundaries, not only are other people going to (intentionally or unintentionally) cross them, but we will cross our own boundaries as well!
Commonly, internal boundaries, or self-boundaries, are thought of as “rules.” I prefer to think of them as boundaries for a couple reasons. Generally, the idea of rules feels rigid, and rules are often attached to the idea of punishment, or having failed, if we aren’t able to follow them.
Boundaries, on the other hand, are actually most healthy when they take into account the context of each individual situation, and are flexible enough to accommodate the complexity of changing circumstances. Also, the entire purpose of a boundary is to protect our best interest, whereas rules can be made for any reason at all, including arbitrary and harmful ones.
For instance, an internal boundary of mine: I don’t spend time with people who make sarcastic comments to put me down under the guise of humor. (You know the type, “Oh, come on...it was just a joke!”)... No. Just no.
But the only reason I know that’s a firm boundary for me is because I’ve taken the time to reflect on how it makes me feel when someone treats me that way. I’ve spent time investigating what happens for me internally in those situations. I’ve intentionally deepened my self-awareness.
Internal Boundaries Are Self-Care
Other examples of self-boundaries could be social media boundaries, boundaries around our schedule, sleep, food, movement, need for alone time, need for connection, etc.
Knowing our needs in these areas and setting boundaries for ourselves can really up our self-care game. However, a note of caution, be vigilant that these boundaries not turn into “shoulds” and inflexible rules, that you then beat yourself up for not following perfectly. I see you anxious perfectionists!
The more mindful we are about what works for us and what doesn’t, the more intentionally we can approach our lives.
Getting Clear on the Boundaries You Need
- Are there areas of your life where you feel chronically dissatisfied or uncomfortable? Get curious about why. Do you always feel like shit when you get less than eight hours of sleep? Is scrolling IG every five minutes seriously impeding your productivity?
- Are there relationships that leave you feeling drained, anxious, or insecure? Again, get curious. Why? Write about it.
- If you aren’t a writer, then talk out loud about it into a voice memo. Somehow find a way to bring that information out of your subconscious into your conscious awareness so you can take better care of yourself and your needs.
This is an ongoing practice. A mindfulness practice, if you will. Whenever you notice that _______ (fill in the blank) feeling in the pit of your stomach, grab your journal and start investigating! You deserve to feel centered and confident about what you are doing and how you are living your life.
Meet the Author
Ready to work on your boundaries?
Maggie is a therapist based out of Lawrence, Kansas who specializes in therapy for highly sensitive adults, therapy for self-esteem, therapy for anxiety, therapy for childhood trauma, and grief and bereavement counseling.
Maggie is passionate about helping people overcome shame and the fear of being their true selves. Breaking the cycles of people-pleasing and self-abandonment is possible; you don't have to suffer alone. Maggie offers online therapy throughout the state of Kansas.
Reach out today to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation!
Other Services Offered by Maggie
In addition to providing online therapy anywhere in Kansas, Maggie is also a professional astrologer, and offers Birth Chart Readings anywhere in the United States, as well as abroad.
Astrology is a powerful tool for gaining self-awareness, finding meaning in and understanding of our difficult experiences, and for receiving validation regarding our own unique life path. All of which supports our mental health in a positive way!
Interested in getting a Natal Chart Reading? Book a free phone consultation and let’s get started!