As a therapist and boundary expert, I often get asked questions around setting and maintaining boundaries with others. Sometimes, I have people go a layer deeper and ask about setting boundaries with themselves and how to do that.
Here’s the thing….. I don’t have a straightforward one size fits all answer on how to do that. Why? Because we all have different temperaments and tendencies that we subscribe to. So, to have a little fun, take the quiz linked below and then we will dive into each one of tendencies and ways to set boundaries based on your personal tendency.
Now, keep in mind as I evaluate these that Gretchen Rubin is the expert on the tendencies, not me. My thoughts are anecdotal based on my experiences with clients, colleagues and friends throughout my lifetime. This is also in no way a diagnostic instrument or anything of true clinical significance, just common patterns of being.
First, let’s start with upholders. Most upholders actually have little to no problems setting personal boundaries. They are strict rule followers that are often self-motivated. If they believe something is beneficial to them, they will most often follow it to a T. If they do not follow through, it is most likely because they do not see the value or the benefit. For upholders, if you want to set boundaries with yourself, know your why and the value that upholding the boundary will mean for you and for the most part you uphold it.
Now, let’s talk about questioners. Questioners need to know the why, how and what and once they feel confident in those things, they are most likely to honor their own boundaries. If someone tells a questioner to drink a gallon of water a day because it is good for them, that is not enough. However, if the questioner understands and agrees with research that it is good for their skin, digestive tract etc. then they are likely to comply. If they understand it and AGREE with the logic, they are very loyal. So, if you are a questioner and want to set personal boundaries, where ever there is doubt in your boundaries, find an answer that is suitable for you to the question and then you are likely to follow through.
As an obliger, this whole section I can speak from experience. Obligers are motivated by external accountability and often lack internal accountability. For an obliger to honor their own personal boundaries, they often need someone/something to help keep them accountable. For some people, it can be as simple as a calendar where the mark every day they work out or their watch that tells them when they have reached their goal. For other obligers, they need more direct external accountability such as a friend who is also engaging in the same personal boundary behavior or that will aid in providing accountability. Others post on social media what their new boundaries are so that they feel like if they do not complete it, they will be letting other people down. If you are obliger, find a way to gain external accountability that will help you maintain your boundary.
Last but not least, let’s talk about rebels. Rebels will not comply with something because someone told them to (even if that person is a professional) or because it is a societal norm. The only way a rebel will do something is if it is their idea or their stubbornness is motivating them. For instance, they will not run a 5k when their friend asks them to join but they will run a 5k when the friend tells them they are out of shape and can’t do it. They will do it just to prove the other person wrong. If something is rigid, rebels are likely to rebel and not engage in the behavior. However, if it is their own guidelines they are imposing on themselves and they see the value, they will sometimes comply. A rebel needs a strong motivator to help them stay consistent. If you are a rebel, do whatever you want. Seriously, rebels are not likely to listen to what others think they should do. If you are a rebel, you know what you need to do to establish personal boundaries and it is unique to you so you do you ;)
Now that you know your tendency and how to set personal boundaries with yourself so that they stick, start….. If you need more help with boundaries, I know a great course just for you so click here and use the code boundaries.
Jocelyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor and course creator who desires to help clients heal and grow into who God created them to be.