A woman uses a giant pencil to draw a heart around herself.

Creating Boundaries to Thrive

Can I bring up something a little controversial? I want to chat about boundaries. So often they get a bad rap. If I'm honest, I have often struggled with saying no, even when I'm already burning the candle at both ends. But no one can be at their best without putting some real, solid effort into drawing a few lines.

Setting the limit and upholding it

It's important to know what boundaries are and how they apply to you. In general, boundaries are rules that help keep you safe from emotional or physical harm by stopping another person from crossing a line with their behavior. This means boundaries have two parts: setting the limit and upholding it.

For example, if I say "I won't let you yell at me," the limit is yelling and my boundary is keeping myself safe from rage - whether implied or directly stated in words.

It's best if boundaries have a warning attached so they aren't crossed unexpectedly for either party, but sometimes threats can escalate out of control before anyone has time to issue a warning. A really dangerous boundary violation (physical or verbal) is usually addressed right away because there's too much risk to put boundaries on hold.

That said, boundaries take time and trust to be built, so it's not disrespectful to take your time with setting boundaries - even boundaries for confronting other people's dangerous behaviors. Be patient and understanding while you work up the courage to say no. Your needs deserve protection just as much as anyone else's!

We all have a responsibility

Healthy boundaries should never put another person in danger, either physically or emotionally. We all have a responsibility here: we each get what we need out of life by giving others what they need from us. Yes, this goes for friends and family too. There should always be give-and-take, and boundaries help maintain that balance.

As a caregiver, boundaries can be especially important because we take on so many roles in the lives of other people - spouse, parent, child, friend. Setting boundaries is an important part of keeping our own sanity while caring for others.

Here are some ideas to start practicing boundaries.

Decide what your limits are

You have to know yourself well enough to determine when you're pushing your body or mind too hard before it becomes a problem. The goal here isn't perfection!

Sometimes life gets away from us and puts its foot on the gas pedal without asking if we're ready for full speed yet. When this happens, boundaries come in handy. We all need to learn and understand the boundaries we thrive within, and boundaries can be different for everyone!

Tell others what your limitations are

This is often called giving your word, which implies that you aren't allowed to break it once you give it. You didn't just say something without thinking - boundaries take time and trust to build, so don't betray someone by not following through with a promise to yourself or them!

If you want respect from people who matter in your life, boundaries are an important step toward letting others know how far they can expect their relationship with you to go (or not go). Remember, boundaries help keep both parties safe from harm.

Setting boundaries as a caregiver

What do you need to say 'no' to? I want to encourage you to do it! How are you setting boundaries as a caregiver? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AlzheimersDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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