Last week on the blog we explored the idea of physical boundaries, which can look like taking physical space from someone or something. Sometimes, we don’t have the ability to physically remove ourselves from a situation. This is where emotional boundaries come into play.
Emotional boundaries can be understood as separating your feelings from someone else’s. Think of situations where someone in your life is venting to you about a situation at work or in their personal lives or are always talking about their emotional stress in their lives. While it is important to validate their feelings and support them, it is not our job to emotionally take on that stress for them.
This week we will share three tips for creating stronger boundaries:
- Check-in with yourself: How are you feeling right now? When we are feeling depleted or emotionally exhausted, our ability to hold boundaries can be harder. We may get stuck in the emotional cycle with our friend/partner/colleague/family member and on-top of feeling emotionally exhausted, we are now feeling what they are feeling. Checking in with yourself can be a simple way to know if you are in a space where you can emotionally engage with someone else. We need to put on our oxygen masks before we can put on someone else’s.
- Say “no.”: It is perfectly acceptable to say “no” when someone is asking or beginning to unload their stress onto you. While you may feel like saying no may be perceived as not caring, it is also important to take care of yourself first. Try saying something like “I hear that you are feeling stressed/overwhelmed/upset right now and that you need someone to talk to. I want to be there for you and I am right now not in a space to be there fully for you.”
- Carve out time for yourself: By overcommitting and over-volunteering yourself, it makes it harder to recharge. Taking time to recharge and protecting that time is vital in strengthening emotional boundaries, so when someone you care about is wanting to share a difficult time with you, you can be there for them in a supportive way- without taking on their stress too.
Emotional boundaries are often a work in progress, and that’s okay! Relationships are so unique and individualized that you may have strong emotional boundaries with one person, and boundaries that need strengthening with someone else. What are other tips you’ve tried in strengthening your emotional boundaries? Comment below.
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