Shelley J Whitehead

How to know if you have good internal boundaries

21 December, 2022

When we talk about boundaries, it’s helpful to distinguish between boundaries that you have with yourself and boundaries you have with others. In this article, talk through the kind of boundaries you have with yourself– ‘internal boundaries’ – and explain why they are essential for your own quality of life and how they influence your relationships with others. 

What are boundaries? 

Boundaries are all about taking responsibility. Having good boundaries means you take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and actions and that you don’t take responsibility for the thoughts, feelings and actions of others. 

What are Internal boundaries? 

Good boundaries start with yourself – where you take care of yourself and take care of how you feel and what you do. 

This goes a little bit further than ‘self care’. If you think of boundaries as defining your standards, things start to get a little clearer. If you have good standards of self-care and are able to uphold those standards, others will treat you better because the way we treat ourselves sets the tone for how others treat us. 

Good internal boundaries build trust

When you are tuned in and responsive to your own needs, you will build self-trust. And self-trust is the foundation for trusting others… because how can we trust others when our biggest relationship (i.e the relationship we have with ourselves) is untrustworthy? 

How can you know if you have good internal boundaries?

A helpful tool for knowing whether or not your internal boundaries are in healthy shape is by asking yourself two questions: 

  1. is this way I am treating myself how I would treat a good friend or child I really loved? 
  2. am I proud of the way I am behaving? Would I recommend this behaviour to anyone else?

If the answer is ‘no’ to any of those questions, you might want to do a bit of work on raising your standards for yourself. 

Practising good internal-boundaries is not the easiest skill and there may be some barriers to overcome. But a good first step is to keep asking yourself the right questions. With clarity, comes power… and eventually, with practice, this clarity and power leads to genuine mastery! 

So try asking yourself those questions and listen carefully to yourself and to what comes up for you. There will be valuable information for you in your answers. 

Shelley J Whitehead
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