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Understanding Internal Boundaries are the standards and values we set

  • internal boundaries are the standards and values we set for our lives.

  • The more time we spend getting to know our internal boundaries, the better we will be able to create the life we want.

  • Important boundaries to consider are wellness-related, financial and material, time, and interpersonal.

Boundaries are usually talked about as an important part of interpersonal relationships. While this is important, it also means that our internal boundaries tend to be relatively ignored. internal, personal boundaries are the standards that we hold for ourselves. They are the limits, rules, and expectations we have for ourselves, our life, and our behaviour to create the kind of life we want to live. While boundaries are often described as “saying no,” “drawing a line,” or “setting a limit,” setting boundaries also creates the time, energy, and space for us to say “yes!” to what is most important to us. While sometimes our internal boundaries need to be asserted with other people, they can also be entirely personal and individual. Internal boundaries can take many forms and be related to all dimensions of life. They are rooted in our values and the kinds of lives we want to create for ourselves. In this article, I will share a few common areas where creating internal boundaries can have a profoundly positive impact on quality of life. Wellness-Related Boundaries Wellness-related internal boundaries are the standards we set for ourselves in physical and mental health. For instance, giving ourselves a bedtime is a way to support our wellness by making sure we get enough sleep each night. Being committed to attending psychotherapy, following up on medical appointments, eating healthfully, and taking care of our bodies are also meaningful internal boundaries we can maintain. Sometimes these self-expectations involve saying no to certain activities (e.g., watching that late-night television show), but in the long term, they help us maintain or improve our long-term quality of life.

Financial and Material Boundaries

These internal boundaries involve how we take care of our finances, home, and other material realities of our life.

Maybe we commit to saving a little extra money each month, so we have a buffer for hard times.

Maybe we commit to not loaning a certain amount of money to other people or making donations to personally important charities each month.

We may want to commit to having our car regularly serviced or our home consistently clean, which can help us relax and feel well-supported in our daily routines.

Time Boundaries

The way that we use our time can have significant consequences on our lives, so being thoughtful about how we choose to use our time is essential. We may want to think about how many hours per day or week we spend in certain activities or with certain people and look for areas of our life where we can create new rules and standards that will be more supportive.

For instance, we may decide to stop watching television earlier in the evening to have time to prepare ourselves for the next work day. When you are very busy, and then someone requests yet another meeting, you might maintain a time boundary by requesting that the meeting be booked further out when you have more time. These boundaries also intersect with others. For example, you may want to keep your home clean but also set a limit on the number of hours you spend cleaning each month to ensure you have time for other cherished

activities. Interpersonal Boundaries Most writing about boundaries focuses on interpersonal boundaries, but discussion tends to focus on teaching people how to be assertive and set limits. Here, the goal is to take some time alone to reflect on what is most important to you in relationships at a foundational level. Think about your standards for how you want to be treated in relationships, what kinds of friendships are rewarding, and what qualities you look for when vetting relationships. Also, consider how you want to show up in relationships and what you have to offer (or not). The more clear we are on these ahead of time, the more we will be able to seek out and find people who fit these needs and preferences and can respect your boundaries. For example, you may be a single parent and only have a limited amount of time each month to devote to dating. Another internal boundary might be related to how you prioritize and balance your relationships and career. Knowing these boundaries ahead of time will help you know what kinds of relationships to seek, how to adjust your behaviour, and sometimes also talk it over with other people in your life. The more time we spend getting to know our internal boundaries, the better we will be able to create the life we want. Too often, we ignore this area of life and then end up in crisis after spending too much time in a situation that violates our boundaries. Understanding our internal boundaries is truly an area where “an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.”


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