For those of us who fall into the category of ‘people pleasers’ (for which there are many), setting boundaries in your relationships, work and even within yourself can be an arduous task.
But, as Australian clinical psychologist Dr Rebecca Ray explains, boundaries are key to overcoming the emotional difficulties we experience in our daily lives.
“Boundaries provide structure to our emotional and physical being,” she explains in her book, Setting Boundaries. “They are lines for connection, rather than division, which prevent our lives from descending into chaos, because without them, we are essentially on call for everyone else.”
Without effective boundaries, we can fall into the habits of always agreeing to things we don’t want to, constantly looking for permission and validation, and holding onto toxic relationships.
Some people struggle with boundaries as they are a source of trauma, conflict or anxiety. “If boundaries have felt unsafe for you in the past, you may respond to them out of habit of being in SOS-mode,” explains Dr Ray.
“This means you’re not thinking clearly, and you’re operating from a place of self-protection and comfort-seeking.”
Read more: 4 friendship boundaries you need to have in your life