- Nancy B. Urbach
Is Setting Boundaries Selfish?
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
You might feel selfish when setting boundaries, but they are necessary for mental health and well-being. Having boundaries means knowing and understanding what your limits are. Healthy boundaries are a crucial part of life and an important aspect of any self-care practice. Setting boundaries and learning to put yourself first can also give you the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and to be there for them as well.
Examine the boundaries that already exist in your life with others like spouses, family, friends, coworkers, etc. Do you find yourself getting more upset with a specific person? Do you feel pressure to always say yes even when you are uncomfortable? When you have a lack of boundaries, it can lead to unhealthy relationships that result in resentment and anger, due to not sharing what bothers you. The key to setting boundaries is to first identify what boundaries you need. These will be different for some relationships and situations. Be clear on what boundaries you want and for whom, before implementing them.
Once you have defined the boundaries you require and who you need to set them with, set up a private time to share these with them. In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular is bothersome to you and discuss ways in which you can work together to address it. This is a skill that has to be practiced, but it is important in maintaining healthy relationships. Once your boundaries have been communicated and all parties have the same understanding, follow through and be consistent. The only way boundaries are going to last, is if you practice them. Also, make sure to express your gratitude and give positive feedback; for example, “Thank you for adjusting to my boundary; it has really reduced my anxiety.”
Boundaries are not selfish; they are necessary to maintain relationships and mental health. Communication is key to building these boundaries for both parties to understand and not just assume. You will be happy once they are in place. Give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them. Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect.