Building Boundaries : Road to Self Awareness

29 Jul 2022

According to the American Psychological Association, boundaries are considered to be a "psychological demarcation that protects the integrity of an individual or group or that helps the person or group set realistic limits on participation in a relationship or an activity." In layman's language, it’s an imaginary line that separates someone's physical space, feelings, needs and responsibilities from others. 

Boundaries define how others can treat you, what’s acceptable and what isn’t, about respecting “no,” and maintaining healthy communication. Boundaries are essential for self-care - it lets you embrace your feelings and preferences, without worrying about what others think. It conserves your emotional energy and lets you have healthier relationships. Let’s take a look at why some people struggle with boundaries and what the different types of boundaries look like. 

Understanding 6 Types of Boundaries & Their Importance for Well-Being

Now that we have established boundaries are extremely necessary for a healthy life, we need to understand creating boundaries might be a challenge for some people and can come naturally to others. According to Gottman Institute-trained therapist, Hanna Stensby, "Boundaries are all about becoming clear on your values and your priorities, and then setting limits around people or activities in your life that don’t bring you joy or don’t make you feel fulfilled."

Clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula mentions some people feel guilty after they have set up a boundary and are afraid to hurt the feelings of the other individual. They might not set boundaries out of constant fear of being disliked or rejected. 

People who have been diagnosed with mental illness like anxiety and depression may also struggle with setting boundaries because they find it difficult to say no to things and stand up for themselves. 

Types of Boundaries

1. Physical Boundaries

Physical boundaries are the demarcations you draw regarding your body, touch, space, what you eat or drink and when you’re active and resting. According to Urban Wellness Counseling, there are a set of questions individuals can ask themselves to explore their physical boundaries, which include -

  • How comfortable you are being touched (hugs, handshakes, high fives) by others?
  • Who are you comfortable being touched by?
  • Is your bedroom space open for people or just for you?
  • How will you prioritize the time you need to rest, etc.?

2. Emotional Boundaries

Emotional or mental boundaries convey that you are solely responsible for your feelings. It aids in the development of emotional safety by allowing you to respect your and others feelings and avoid oversharing personal information. When you meet a stranger, you don’t go on to share every bit of information about you and your family, instead you share only what is required at that moment. 

3. Sexual Boundaries

Sexual boundaries defend your right to consent and to communicate what you want from the other person, while setting rules about safety. You can ask yourself these questions -

  • What type of touch would you want?
  • How frequently do you want to engage in sexual activity?
  • What kink are you open to trying and what are you not okay with?

4. Intellectual Boundaries

These are established to protect your opinions and thoughts and to foster respect for diverse points of view, which allows you to talk freely, without fear of being condemned. It allows you to put your opinion forth without feeling compelled to agree with a group leader or the majority. 

5. Financial Boundaries

These boundaries enable you to draw a line to protect your finances or financial resources like a car, house and personal belongings. For example, you can spend on your functions according to your budget instead of based on what others expect you to splurge. 

6. Time Boundaries

Time boundaries help you mindfully spend your time with yourself or your loved ones. For example, if you can only be part of a family function for an hour due to work commitments, a time boundary lets you convey that and stick to it. It can also sound like, “Sorry, my work schedule is pretty hectic this week so I won’t be able to attend your party.” 

While setting boundaries might not feel easy in the beginning, and you may face setbacks in the start, it will pay off in the long run - you will feel safer and empowered in a holistic sense when interacting with others.


Build your awareness and get inspired with our researched articles on how you can strengthen your well-being

If you, or someone you know, is in need of emergency care or urgent crisis intervention, please contact your local emergency numbers immediately