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  • Writer's pictureKailee Place, LPC

4 Types of Boundaries And Why You 100% Need Them In Your Life Starting NOW

I imagine you've heard someone say to you, "you need to set some better boundaries," and you nod your head in agreement. And go on with your day.

But what the hell are boundaries anyway? What does that statement even mean?

Boundaries, in the way we'd be discussing them in regards to the people in our lives, are expectations or "rules" you set for yourself or for the people in your life. A really great way to think of boundaries is picturing your personal bubble. Think about when someone stands near you as you two talk. Are they standing at a good distance? Do you feel comfortable? Or are they all up in your business, standing super close, and you're wishing for lightning to strike you because it's so awkward and uncomfortable? The close-talker... they crossed your boundaries! You have a personal expectation of a certain amount of personal space and this person just waltzed their way right past your boundary and that doesn't feel good at all.

Now think about other areas in your life where you have felt awkward, uncomfortable, irritated, resentful, or even violated. Most likely, someone crossed a boundary of yours whether it's something you've actively thought about or not.

There are 4 types of boundaries: material, physical, emotional, and mental.

Let's break those down:

1. Material: Think about a time you've had a friend ask to borrow your favorite shirt. I'm guessing you would have really liked to say, "uh no, eff off," but that feels mean. So you give your friend your shirt and either never see it again or when you do, there's a wine stain on it. Shit.

You help yourself avoid negative feelings about your friend by setting boundaries around your belongings such as what things you lend out, how long you let someone borrow something, or even allowing people to borrow things in the first place.

2. Physical: This goes back to that personal space example up top, but goes far beyond that. Your physical boundaries are incredibly important. You decide who can be in your space or who can touch you, where they can touch you, how they can touch you, etc. Your body is yours and you decide how people interact with your body. Period. And if someone tries to do something that makes you feel even a tinge uncomfortable, you are COMPLETELY justified to shut that behavior down immediately.

3. Emotional: Emotional boundaries refer to how you keep your feelings separate from others' feelings. It can be easy to absorb how someone else is feeling and get totally caught up in their energy versus keeping a clear line between their emotional experience and yours. For example, your significant other comes home from a rough day at work and he/she is pissed. It's been a rough ass day. But you've had a great day! You can support and empathize, but their gloom doesn't need to overshadow or take over your sunny mood.

4. Mental: Your mental boundaries refer to your internal thoughts or inner world such as values, opinions, thoughts, or your belief system. You are allowed to hold strong onto your inner world without feeling like you need to bend to other people's views or opinions. Just as important, work towards not infringing your inner world onto someone else's.

Boundaries keep everyone clear in their understanding of how you'd like to be treated. Boundaries are not mean. Boundaries should not make you feel guilty. They are helpful guides for yourself and for others so everyone can live harmoniously.

Bottom line: take a look at your boundaries (or lack of) and be clear around these boundaries for your benefit and the benefit of others.

And if you have no idea how the hell to do that... call your therapist!!!

Until next time,


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