Setting Boundaries for Yourself Is an Act of Self-Love

July 31, 2019 Heidi Green, Psy.D.

Setting boundaries for yourself is important, although when we talk about setting boundaries we often refer to boundary setting with others. It is essential to say no to others at times and to advocate for our wants and needs in relationships. However, it is just as important to set boundaries for yourself.

Why Do You Need to Set Boundaries for Yourself?

Part of loving ourselves is offering tough love when we need it, and that is where setting boundaries for yourself becomes important. Imagine you are parenting a young child. Your job is to keep the child safe, to teach them how to be kind, cooperative, and adaptable. You want to feed them healthy food, get them to bed on time, not allow too much screen time, and encourage healthy expressions of emotion. Part of raising a child well is teaching them that they can't do whatever they want all the time. As adults, it is our job to institute these types of boundaries for ourselves.

One healthy boundary I set was not to allow an immediate emotional reaction from myself any time things weren't going my way. I had to deal with a lot of injustice as a kid. Because I was powerless to protect myself in situations that were unfair in childhood, as an adult I was very reactive to any perceived injustice. I believed I was advocating for myself, but the truth was that I sometimes overreacted and was offensive to others. It was hard for me to acknowledge this, but over time, I received enough feedback from others that I had to admit everyone couldn't be wrong.

So, I set a boundary. Any time I felt super reactive to someone, I would take a few breaths before responding. Then, I would deliver my response in a cool, even tone. I also set a boundary that I would try to assume the best in people unless they truly proved malicious intent. Assuming the best in others helped me keep my emotions in check. Over time, I realized that most of the situations I got so upset about in the past really weren't worthy of such intense emotion. I became much better at handling misunderstandings and minor disagreements thanks to my self-imposed boundaries.

When Should You Set a Boundary with Yourself?

I find it helpful to remind myself that my wisest self is in charge. Sometimes she needs to parent the other parts of me. Remember, the parts of you that can be stubborn, selfish, defensive, blaming, and childish don't get to be the decision-makers. Your healthiest, wisest, highest self gets the final say. Sometimes I ask myself, "What would my wisest self say or do right now?"

When deciding if you need to set a boundary with yourself, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you teach a child in your care to behave this way?
  • Is this the way your healthiest self wants you to behave?
  • Have people who love you repeatedly mentioned that your behavior is a problem?
  • Is this way of thinking helpful? Is it leading you toward or away from the life you desire?
  • Is your way of thinking definitively true? Is there another way to think about it?

I hope these questions prompt you to think about your unhealthy thoughts and behaviors and encourage you to set boundaries with yourself. Self-imposed boundaries are an act of self-love and allow us to have better physical and mental health, closer relationships, and more internal peace.

APA Reference
Green, H. (2019, July 31). Setting Boundaries for Yourself Is an Act of Self-Love, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Heidi Green, Psy.D.

Heidi Green is a clinical psychologist and self-love aficionado. She lives her blissful life in Arizona where she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and snuggling her rescue pups. Find Heidi on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and her blog.

Please note: Dr. Green shares her personal opinions and experiences and nothing written by her should be considered professional or personal services or advice.

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