Thursday, 11 March 2021 14:11
By Meghan Lemery Fritz, LCSW-R | Families Today
The Body Knows: Boundaries That Keep Ourselves Emotionally Safe

Have you ever thought of a family gathering you have to attend in the future and feel a pit in your stomach or a tightening of your chest?

Do you feel your stomach turn at the thought of having to interact with a specific colleague or manager?  Have you ever gotten sick right before being around someone whose presence makes you feel anxious and uncomfortable? 

How many times have you overridden your body's internal GPS because you don’t want to be rude or offend anyone? How many times have you given someone else the benefit of the doubt because you were taught to be a nice person and setting boundaries seem mean?

Our bodies hold the key to helping us set boundaries and keep ourselves emotionally safe from individuals who are toxic.  When we override these nudges we will feel emotionally drained, exhausted, defeated and depleted.

How can we set boundaries and stick to them when everyone else around us seems fine?

1. Check In With Your Gut 
We have all heard the saying “Go with your gut.”  In this case, when you feel that uncomfortable sensation pay attention.  For example, if you get invited to a wedding and feel immediately uncomfortable about some of the family members you will have to interact with, pay attention to that feeling.  Listen to it and take some time to assess further.

2. History is Your Friend 
While it is important to work through traumatic past events, when it comes to setting boundaries use history as a helpful tool.

If you keep showing up to functions and the same person continues to be difficult and toxic don’t give them the benefit of the doubt for the next event.  Use history as a way to determine what boundaries you need to set for the future.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Trade being nice for feeling secure and safe.

3. Stand Alone
Here is the tough part about setting boundaries, you may be the only one doing it in your family, your place of work, with a friend group, etc.

Do not look to other people to support your decision to set a boundary with a toxic person.  If you start looking for validation from others you may be told you are being too harsh, the toxic person means well, or that’s just the way they are and you should not take it personally. 

Setting boundaries is a skill that takes insight and practice and when you begin to do it regularly the people that have benefited from you having no boundaries will start to question your behavior. 

When this happens it may cause you to second guess yourself and make poor decisions that continue to make you feel uncomfortable.  Don’t take the bait!  The easiest way to know if you need to set some boundaries is to let your body guide you. A continuous uneasy feeling is a tell tale sign that you need to make a change.

Our bodies can be a wonderful GPS to guide us into better relationships and to help us take action against chronic boundary violaters.  Don’t wait until you feel sick with dis-ease to make changes, pay attention to the first sign your body gives you and keep practicing this awareness until it begins to feel automatic.


Meghan Fritz is a psychotherapist practicing at Fritz, Stanger & Associates. For more information visit

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