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Healthy Boundaries

Valuing Yourself to Have Boundaries

Boundaries are so important to your wellness.

Boundaries are limits we set for ourselves in our relationships. Healthy boundaries allow us to say “No” to others and be ourselves. 

 

Types of Boundaries

Boundaries are to help keep you safe. They create clear expectations which help to create healthy relationships. Your boundaries are for you to decide.

There are 7 types of boundaries:

boundaries that protect your feelings and thoughts. It is protecting your right to your feelings, not being ridiculed about your emotions, and not being responsible for other people’s emotions. Your feelings are your own. Emotional boundaries create a safe place to have your emotions. It is about knowing when to take time for yourself and what you are comfortable sharing.

boundaries that protect your thoughts and ideas. It is how you communicate and discuss things with others.

boundaries that protect your possessions and money. It is being paid by your job as agreed upon. Material boundaries also help you decide if you want to lend your things/money to someone or not.

boundaries that protect your body and space. You have a right not to be touched and to have privacy. It is also about valuing your body by eating well and resting. It is also the boundary around your body and how close you like people to you. This can change depending on who you are around.

boundaries which protect your right to consent and what kind of sexual activity you like/where/when/with whom. It is being able to express what you want.

boundaries that protect your right to believe in what you want and practice your spiritual/religious beliefs.

boundaries that protect how you spend your time. It is how you prioritize your time and know your time is worth something. Time boundaries allow you to say no to do things you do not want to do.

Remember, it is okay to say no! Boundaries protect us. They protect our time, energy, possessions, and relationships (to self and others).

If someone does not respond well to you setting boundaries, that is to do with them not you. You are allowed to have boundaries. Do not allow others to sway your boundaries because they want something from you or do not like the limits you have set. A healthy relationship is one in which your boundaries are respected and valued. Unhealthy relationships do not.

Setting Boundaries

Communicating your boundaries can be as simple as saying no. Sometimes, saying no can be challenging, so what are some different ways you can set boundaries?

Your boundaries are what are right for you not others.  Some of our boundaries might be rigid  and others might be flexible. It can depend on the situation and the type of boundary. The important thing is to listen to yourself and what makes you comfortable.

First thing to do is self-reflection. What are you comfortable with? What is important to you?

Start small. Setting boundaries can be really challenging especially with people you have known for a while. Start with small things. This can help you build them up over time.

Set them early.   When you begin a new relationship, it is important you set boundaries. This will help the person know how you want to be treated and how you are going to treat them.

Be consistent. When you keep your boundaries consistent, it helps to reinforce them. It helps so there is no confusion.

Communicate. Talking with the person is so important. This might not be easy but it helps everyone know what the expectations are.

How Can You Say No?

  • No, thank you.
  • I am not interested in that.
  • I am okay with…but I am not okay with…
  • I am not ready for…
  • I need some quiet time to recharge.
  • I am not feeling up to it today.
  • I am not comfortable with that.
  • I do not have time for…right now.
  • I have too much on my plate for…
  • I am fine with…
  • I am not into that kind of thing.
 
 Sometimes, people will cross your boundaries because they do not know your boundaries. If they continue to cross your boundaries when you have communicated them, that is a sign of disrespect. 

Consent

Consent is a voluntary agreement between people that they want to do something together. Make sure everyone says yes because they want to and not because they feel pressured to say yes. Consent is an important part of boundaries

Consent is:

  • Active, not passive. Only YES means YES!
  • Knowing and respecting a person’s own boundaries, as well as the boundaries of others
  • Ongoing conversation, not a one-time deal.

Consent Laws in Canada

Legal age of consent to sexual activity with anyone older than you is 16 in Canada.

Under 12

Cannot consent to sexual activity.

Ages 12-13

The law allows for consent to sexual activity with someone less than 2 years older than them.

Ages 14-15

The law allows for consent to sexual activity with someone less than 5 years older unless the person is in a position of power, authority, or influence over the other (then they cannot give consent).

Ages 16+

The law allows for consent to sexual activity with an adult regardless of age, unless the adult is in a position of power, authority, or influence over the youth (then consent cannot be given).

Consent cannot be given (and it does not count if given)
  • On someone’s behalf (given by someone else)
  • If the other person is in a position of power, trust, or authority (coach, teacher, counsellor, boss, family member)
  • If someone is threatened, manipulated or forced
  • If someone expresses in words or actions NO (a lack of agreement)
    • Actions can include turning away, putting hands/arms up to block the person, stepping back, shaking head no, etc.
  • If someone is incapable of giving consent (unconscious, sleeping, under the influence of drugs or alcohol)
    • If a person is unconscious, asleep, drunk, high or otherwise intoxicated, they cannot give consent. The person must be alert, of stable mind, conscious, and sober to give consent to sexual activity.

Further Resources

If you would like to speak to someone about mental health issues, the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line is available 24/7, offering information and referrals on any aspect of mental health.

Call toll-free: 1-877-303-2642

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