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Set Boundaries, Find Peace

A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself

By Nedra Glover Tawwab
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Set Boundaries, Find Peace (2021) lays out everything you need to know about boundaries: what they are, why you need them, and how to implement them in your life right now. By breaking down the ins and outs of setting healthy boundaries, these blinks will leave you feeling confident and empowered to finally tackle those thorny conversations that you’ve been avoiding for so long.

Key idea 1 of 9

Healthy relationships need healthy boundaries.

So, how do you know whether you need boundaries? What are the signs, exactly?

Well, reflect on a few questions for a moment. Do you frequently feel stressed, overwhelmed, or burned out by the amount of work you have to do? Do you find that you struggle to say no to requests from friends, family, and co-workers? Do you ever find yourself avoiding certain people that you just feel uncomfortable being around?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might have an issue with boundaries. That’s because, as diverse as these problems may seem, they actually all boil down to the same fundamental problem: you’ve allowed your needs to take second place to someone else's.

Boundaries, then, are about standing up for yourself. Having healthy boundaries means being able to count on the people in your life to treat you in a manner that you’re comfortable with.

The key message here is: Healthy relationships need healthy boundaries.

When we think of boundaries, the ones that first come to mind are the physical boundaries of our bodies and personal space. You’ve probably experienced how uncomfortable it can be when someone gets too close to your face during a conversation, for example.

But, physical boundaries are actually just one of six types of boundaries. For example, we also have sexual boundaries, which are about limiting inappropriate conversation topics, sexually charged jokes, and other behavior that we’re not willing to put up with.

Then there are intellectual and emotional boundaries, which are about having our opinions and feelings respected by others even if they disagree with us. We also have material boundaries, which relate to how others use our possessions. And, finally, we have time boundaries which are about ensuring that others understand the value of our time. 

Admittedly, many of these boundaries are coded into the culture, like personal space, so it shouldn't be necessary to state them. However, other boundaries are more individual, and these are the ones we need to communicate. For example, when meeting someone for the first time, you might have to let them know that you’re more of a hand-shaker than a hugger.

Of course, setting boundaries isn’t always easy. We worry that we’ll be seen as stuffy, needy, or overly sensitive. We might even worry about harming the relationship by making things awkward.

But, in the long run, not setting boundaries is counter-productive. If we allow others to continually step on our boundaries, the quality of our relationships will inevitably decline.

So, yes, setting boundaries can be uncomfortable. But, in the end, short-term discomfort is a small price to pay for having functional, long-term relationships.

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