When we think about setting boundaries, many of us focus on external boundaries – the limits we set with other people around our time, physical space, privacy, etc. But internal boundaries – those we need to protect our inner worlds from outside influences – are just as important, and often more difficult to set and hold.
We discuss what it looks like to have healthy internal boundaries that nurture our self-trust and confidence, and help us take responsibility for our actions and well-being. In our Get It Together / Got It Together segment, we each share the internal boundaries we want to strengthen, and the ones we’ve established.
Here are five steps to help you assess where you need stronger internal boundaries:
- Identify where your internal boundaries are lacking or compromised. In this Forge article, Melody Wilding, LMSW, offers a great guideline for doing this: “If you feel one of three emotions — guilt, shame, or resentment — it’s a sign that a boundary needs to be set.” Practice the pause, and ask yourself what’s going on here.
- Figure out why. What are the thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that are fueling these actions? What triggered them?
- Assess the opportunity cost. What else could you do with that time that would serve you and your people better? How can you protect your precious energy and attention?
- Figure out what you can control, and let go of the rest. How much of the situation is about you? How much is about other people? What actions can you take to address what’s within your control? What can you let go of that’s not?
- Set up external supports that help you maintain your internal boundaries. What accountability tools would help you do this? Experiment with a few, like setting alarms for winding down work or getting ready for bed, or asking a loved one to hold you accountable as you start forming the habit.
Let us know how you manage your own internal boundaries. Which limits feel strong, and which are you still working on?
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How do you manage your internal boundaries? Which limits feel strong, and which are you still working on?
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- How to Begin to Set Internal Boundaries, Psychology Today
- The Boundary You Didn’t Know You Were Missing, Forge (Medium’s personal development blog) – FYI, this is a member-only article and non-members get 3 free per month
- Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, by Nedra Glover Tawaab (there’s a workbook, too)
- Why Your Boundaries Matter More than Ever, CBT Psychology for Personal Development
- Vagus Nerve: Function, stimulation, & practice
- How to Improve Your Vagal Tone: 9 Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve: The Movement Paradigm