Internal & External Boundaries Why They Matter & How to Set Them

Setting boundaries is a form of self-care.  It’s critical to figure out what’s important to you, your priorities, and what you want for yourself and your family. 

Boundaries keep us in alignment and create balance in our lives. 

 

Why are boundaries important?

Boundaries are your guard rails to help you achieve your goals and create the most valuable life that feels aligned within you. Physical, mental, and emotional boundaries protect and enrich your life. They save your energy so that you can focus on what’s most important, improving your overall well-being. 

When your boundaries are challenged or dismissed – whether by your job, family, friends, or society – it impacts you internally.  

When someone pushes up against what’s important to you and what you value, you’ll feel resistance or unease in your energetic balance.

Thankfully, you have this intuitive and unique body wisdom, and when you listen, love, and trust it, you can use it to navigate your world and set firm boundaries. 

External Boundaries

Every person in the world has internal and external boundaries.

Your external boundaries tell you what to do, when to do it, where to be, and for how long.  

External boundaries are things like: 

  • Clocks
  • Career or Job
  • Appointments
  • Meetings
  • Events

Sometimes appointments get canceled or changed, but that’s typically out of our control.  In that instance, it helps to learn ways to regain your energetic balance and move on in those situations. 

 

Internal Boundaries

Internal boundaries are your heart’s beautiful, intuitive, and unique feelings.  

Internal boundaries are things like:

  • Gut instinct
  • Body sensations
  • Sleep-wake cycles
  • Hormonal changes 
  • Fatigue and hunger cues
  • Heart and breathing rate

These internal boundaries become out of balance, and your body thinks, “I pushed too hard. I didn’t do enough. I overate. I drank too much. I worked out too long.” 

Understanding Your Internal and External Boundaries

Knowing how your body responds to your internal and external boundaries helps you understand if you are honoring yourself and what’s most important to you.

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of boundaries. I was allowed to stay up late, skip, take naps, and eat whatever and however much I wanted. As time passed, I realized that these behaviors were unhealthy and were at the root of many of my medical issues.

Now, I have firm boundaries to enable me to show up as the best version of myself: as a Mom, wife, and coach. 

A few things have helped me understand which boundaries to put in place so I can continue to feel happy, healthy, and energetically balanced. 

Honor the Answer

I have learned over the years how to tap into and trust my body’s wisdom, the “knowing” inside of myself. Before that, I’d be overthinking, worrying, asking for advice, and spinning inside my head!

Women often get stuck in their heads and dismiss how they’re feeling.  One simple practice I use with my clients is to teach them to honor their “YES” and “NO” feelings instead of consulting with the information they have inside their minds.

You can tune into your unique body’s wisdom and your precious intuition to get the answer by getting quiet and still. If you think about something that you have to do and allow your body to “speak” up, you will quickly know if you are an “Oh Yes!” to that thing or a “Heck No!”. 

For example:

  • Am I tired? Yes.  I will rest for 20 minutes.
  • Am I hungry? No.  I’m not going to eat right now.
  • Did that show on TV upset me?  Yes. I won’t watch it anymore. 

The key here is trusting the answer you are given from within and following through accordingly, even if it upsets someone else. And I know that’s difficult for us high-achieving, people-pleasing givers. 

You will get used to the powerful skill of speaking a firm yes or no. Someone recently told me, “‘NO.’ is a complete sentence.”

Practicing this skill will become your new habit and your best guide in determining what to say and if it aligns with your values.  And from this continued practice, you will set your own unique internal boundaries.

Journaling

When you are experimenting with setting boundaries, journaling can be a huge help.  If something upsets you, but you aren’t sure why journal and express your feelings about what happened. 

This self-reflective activity will give you the best insights about what you’re thinking and feeling so that you can make a different decision or choose a more empowering response based on your new “honoring myself” skills.

This will help you distinguish and set better boundaries and how to respond to external boundaries.

Journaling helps us recognize when we feel uncomfortable or anxious, allowing us to take action before those feelings become more significant.

Writing down your thoughts and feelings will help you better understand your needs and wants.  It enables you to reflect on how your boundaries have been crossed and how to set better boundaries for the future. 

Setting Your Internal and External Boundaries

Once you understand your internal boundaries, you can navigate your day physically, nutritionally, emotionally, etc. You’ll know what self-care you need and when to say yes or no. 

I know that watching the news or violence on TV will upset my nervous system, so I don’t do it.  I spend very little time on social media each day because scrolling aimlessly is not in alignment with what I want to create in my life. 

Knowing what you like, don’t like, what feels good, what doesn’t feel good, what is an “oh yes,” and what is a “heck no” will help establish those boundaries. 

Isn’t it incredible that you have this ability to choose?  

It’s healthy to set boundaries to what you hold sacred and aligned in your life. Boundaries help bring you more happiness, joy, ease, and peace. Most importantly, you are honoring yourself and building self-trust, self-worth, and more confidence.

In my family, we have worked together to set boundaries. Now, we understand each other, flow, communicate, and speak up for our wants, needs, and feelings. 

To set your boundaries, take some time to answer these questions:

  • What do I value most in life?
  • What do I want in life?
  • What am I a YES for?
  • What am I a NO for?

Then, practice honoring the answer to those questions. 

You will bump up against resistance.  But if you are willing to communicate your boundaries openly, you’ll stay aligned with yourself. 

If you are looking for support with setting your boundaries or helping others understand your boundaries, let’s chat!

 

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About Denise Morrison

I’m a licensed and certified health care professional with over 30 years experience in healthcare, wellness, fitness, physical therapy, yoga, NLP, TLT, hypnosis and mind-body practices.

During my career I’ve seen too many women struggle with self-doubt and fear leftover from their past, making them stuck in their health, happiness, and success.

This is why it’s my passion to help you discover and release any of your limiting beliefs, old stories, and unconscious obstacles so you can finally know, trust and value yourself and confidently make decisive action to create your most fulfilling life.

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