Here is some great advice for young people (but can apply to any of us) from Jigsaw about setting and keeping boundaries for ourselves at a time when we are living much more closely with people than we are used to. The original can be found at https://jigsawonline.ie/young-people/personal-boundaries-coronavirus/?utm_source=CM&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Updates_7 and you can find lots of useful information and sources of support on the Jigsaw website https://jigsawonline.ie/parents-and-guardians/
We are all facing an uncertain and extraordinary time at the moment, and many of us are out of college or work and may be spending more time with our families or the people we live with.
So it is even more important that at this time we are making sure that we are setting and keeping boundaries for ourselves.
During the next few weeks it is likely that these boundaries will be challenged when we are all spending more time together whilst also trying to manage the uncertainty of the times we are facing. But firstly, what do we actually mean by personal boundaries?
What are personal boundaries?
Personal boundaries are rules or limits that we set for ourselves within our relationships and generally within our lives. They help us to identify our needs, preferences and desires. These guidelines set out how you want to be treated by others and what kind of behaviours and communication you accept from other people.
Types of personal boundaries
Some different types of boundaries include; physical, intellectual – your own thoughts and opinions, emotional – your own feelings to a given situation, sexual, material, time and spiritual.
Boundaries can be healthy or unhealthy. Healthy boundaries are really important in all of these areas so that we are able to take responsibility for our own actions and also to help avoid being in a position where we could be hurt or manipulated in some way.
No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable because of what you believe in.
How to create and maintain personal boundaries
Here are some tips for creating and maintaining healthy boundaries:
- Know your limits/values. What is acceptable to you in a situation and what’s not. Identify what’s important to you. For example if family life is very important, set boundaries around not working late and protect this.
- Listen to your emotions. Try not to avoid or bury difficult emotions. Allow yourself to feel them and listen to what they are telling you.
- Be assertive. Clearly affirm your boundaries, this gives others the message that you value your feelings and needs above the thoughts and opinions of others. You can let people know they have crossed your boundaries and say no respectfully. This does not mean that you are unkind, it means that you are being honest with them and maintaining your self-respect.
When you have been clear in voicing your personal boundaries and someone is not respecting this, it is OK to remove yourself from that situation or conversation. Remind yourself in these moments you are not responsible for others people’s feelings or reactions and your needs and feelings matter. No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable because of what you believe in.
This exercise gives you a space you let all of those thoughts out freely and safely.
How to do the ‘brain drain’ exercise
The brain drain exercise can help when you’re wanting to set out and define personal boundaries.
To start the exercise
Write down whatever comes into your mind until you have completely filled 2-3 pages, it should only take you about 10 minutes. Try doing this in the morning when you get up. Don’t think about what you are putting on the paper just write exactly what comes in to your mind as it comes, even if you are writing ‘I’m bored’ or ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘this feels silly’
At first your writings will sound a lot like this, but over time you will start to go deeper and identify more important thoughts and feelings.
Generally, when we have more time on our hands and less distractions than usual, our minds can go into over-drive and overthinking and worrying escalates. So all these uncomfortable thoughts are stuck in our heads and we just keep going over them.
This exercise gives you a space you let all of those thoughts out freely and safely. It gives your mind permission to say and think anything without fighting it or trying to bury the thoughts because they feel uncomfortable. So what your doing is acknowledging and accepting them for what they are, just thoughts and your letting them go.
By engaging in this for 10 minutes every morning you are much less likely to be overthinking these same thoughts throughout the day and you will feel a greater sense of calm and of being in the present moment. This will inevitably have a positive impact on your relationships and the people you are spending more time with.
Remember you can find more information and support on the Jigsaw website https://www.jigsaw.ie/