Never before have we had so many outlets for personal expression. Thanks to smartphones and social media, it seems privacy has become a thing of the past. Everyone — from long-lost high school classmates to the barista at your local cafe — is sharing too much information (TMI). And they expect others to do the same. In the face of this sea change, it may be challenging to embrace the concept of boundaries — especially when it comes to unwanted private messages!

How Boundaries Can Change Your Life

Your personal boundaries speak volumes about your personal values and needs. In some ways, they define you. You decide what you like and don’t like. Boundaries empower you to share those values and take responsibility for them.

Boundaries are not about pushing people away. They are more like a clarification. Identifying and sharing your values will help you feel better while improving the many relationships in your life.

Signs That You May Have Porous Boundaries

1. Enduring and Expecting Disrespect

This is the most obvious sign. You tolerate abuse and may eve come to view such disrespect as the norm.

2. Over-Sharing

This goes back to the TMI concept touched on above. It can be an important part of communication to open up with some people. If it becomes your default setting, it can lead to being exploited and manipulated.

3. Over-Involvement

Do you throw yourself at others’ problems? Getting over-involved in the concerns of others is a common sign of thin boundaries.

4. Can’t Say No

Here is where porous boundaries often combine with codependency. You find it increasingly difficult to say no to outside requests. Rather than feeling guilty, you go along even if it conflicts with your values and well-being.

What Healthy Boundaries Look and Feel Like

Going from porous to healthy boundaries does not mean you become rigid and create distance. That would mean never asking for help, eschewing intimacy, and detachment. Rather, healthy boundaries are defined by qualities like:

  • An unwillingness to compromise your values
  • Deciding on a case-by-case basis, regarding how much information is appropriate to share
  • Being comfortable saying “no”
  • Being comfortable hearing “no”
  • Valuing your own opinion and using it as a guidepost

How to Set Healthy and Firm Boundaries

  1. Contemplation: The first step is taking time to identify your own needs in your mind.
  2. Communication: Honest, direct, and active communication with others is the foundation of healthy boundaries.
  3. Consistency: Sending mixed messages usually leads to confusing boundaries. Define your needs and stick to them. If your values evolve, rely on contemplation and communication to smooth the shift.
  4. Cooperation: Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries requires a collective effort. Mutual respect is essential.

This blueprint can increase your self-awareness and your self-esteem. Boundaries can also feel like a form of self-care. You do the work to clarify your needs and values. From there, through your words and behavior, you live out these values as you respect the values of others in your life.

There’s One Place Where TMI is Simply “Information”

As stated at the start, it seems privacy has become a thing of the past. Thus, it is no surprise that we struggle with setting and enforcing boundaries. Working with a therapist is an ideal solution for addressing this plight. What better way to safely and openly discuss boundaries and role-play in the name of making them happen?

Your private sessions do more than provide a safe space. Your counseling time also offers you an opportunity to problem-solve within a culture that feels more imposing by the day. You have the right to set your own boundaries. Seeking guidance during this process is a self-loving choice.

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