There is an idiom by Robert Frost that I have always liked. He wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.” It came to mind recently when my next-door neighbors mentioned that they were considering removing the wall that separates our two properties. The thought of that wall coming down actually struck a great deal of terror in me as I love the privacy and separation. It goes beyond that though. It has to do with protecting my space and having some distance.

Upon reflection, I realize that both the saying and this particular situation are about setting boundaries. Establishing boundaries is so important. They help us to respect each other’s feelings, needs, and security and allow for more harmonious relationships. I live in the city and space is tight. The wall makes me feel better as it clearly lays out where one property stops and the other begins. I have already decided that if the wall comes down, I will put up a fence. I am not trying to be antagonistic, but to instead maintain that boundary. That wall has been there a long time because it’s a good idea.

Boundaries are critical in all of our relationships, particularly if we are people pleasers who try to make others comfortable at our own expense. Although we don’t want to hurt others, we need to set boundaries to take care of ourselves and those we care about. These boundaries can be around our personal space, verbal and written interactions, physical contact, our own emotional well-being, and more.

We need to set boundaries at home, work, and with family and friends as well. Doing so involves communicating our needs as it is challenging for others to guess just what we’re thinking. I’ll admit that I am not always the best at communicating my boundaries but have been getting better at doing so recently.

Here are some tips that can help you set your own personal boundaries:

  • Consider the areas of your life that you’d like to set strong boundaries for.
  • Communicate your needs/reasoning to those involved.
  • Maintain consistency in terms of your newly established boundaries.
  • Make sure to speak up if you feel that someone has violated one of your boundaries.
  • Think about why having boundaries in place is important for your life.
  • Brainstorm about ways to engage in more self-care activities.
  • Give some thought to how you might better recognize the boundaries of others.
  • Be consistent with it and maintain focus related to your boundaries.

Having healthy boundaries is critical in terms of maintaining your emotional and physical well-being so give this activity the attention that it deserves!