How Boundaries (or lack thereof) Directly Affect Your Health

I never really understood how interconnected body and mind really were, until I started becoming more aware of my own body and mind.

When I was a child, my body was always affected by one thing or another. My mum has told me about many a summer spent trying to treat my glandular dysfunction in the sea water, submerged up to my neck by either her or my grandmother. No doubt this is where I developed my fear of water. 

In my teens I started to suffer from alopecia, my hair would fall for no reason. In my early twenties, I got a rare kidney infection, which could have been fatal. I eventually recovered after being hospitalised. At 25, while I was living with my future husband in Tuscany, I was affected by something that caused severe and deep pain for 3 months. One of the senior doctors I went to see literally said to me, “You need to laugh Elisabetta… you need lightness”.

As life went on, I continued to be affected by physical ailments. 

It wasn’t until I started becoming aware of some of my repetitive sabotaging behaviours that my health and wellbeing started becoming less of a burden. This was the beginning of my deeper understanding of the link between mind and body.

The negative behaviour that started coming to my attention was that I was not setting boundaries with people I had relationships with. Any kind of relationships, even the one with my daughter.

I was never taught how to set boundaries or that I even needed to, so I was at a loss when it came to starting.

One day, sat on a flight, I found myself sitting beside someone who was hogging the shared arm rest between us and invading the little space that I had. His right leg was reaching over to my tiny space too and I felt constricted and unhappy. Economy doesn’t provide much space to begin with so having even less made me feel quite claustrophobic and uncomfortable. 

I had two choices… to remain silent and accept what the guy next to me was doing, disrespecting my boundaries… or to speak up and remind him that each of us had our own space that we’d paid for. 

In the past, I’d have never dared to speak up and have my own voice heard regarding my boundaries. This time was different though, I found the inner strength to do so, and I did.

It resulted in me voicing my needs and have them respected, after which I was able to enjoy the comfort of my tiny space. I was happy and I learned a valid lesson: that my happiness depended on me and the choices I made regarding the boundaries I set with people around me.

The story of the flight seat is very representative of how we can set boundaries in our lives to attain happiness, wellbeing and health. Just like on the plane, we have our space that surrounds us, and it is up to us how we manage it or whether we let people into that space excessively or not enough. It is up to us to remind others that our space needs to be respected and up to us to remember that we have a right to that space to begin with.

 image by Eneida Hoti

image by Eneida Hoti

I realised that my happiness depended on the boundaries I had between myself and the relationships that surrounded me. When I started to apply the same principle in my life, that I had on my flight regarding my seat, I saw my life start to change. I started feeling more joy and positivity. I began experiencing people respecting my needs and wants and guess what? My health started to improve dramatically. I saw less and less of the doctor and my energy and vitality increased in all aspects of my life.

So you might be looking to clarify… am I suggesting that our health depends on the way we set boundaries with others in life? And I say, well, yes! 

I’d recommend, if you’re looking to start implementing some boundaries, that you begin setting them with yourself first. I can assure you that when we start to set boundaries with ourselves, it becomes easier to set them with others around us, no matter if they’re relatives, spouses, children, friends or colleagues.

Implementing Boundaries in your Relationships for Health & Wellbeing

  1. Read up on what boundaries are in relationships.
    Search for articles, videos or talks on the topic. There’s so much information available to us at the tip of our fingers today. If you want, you can also consider reading a book about discerning when to say yes and when to say no or taking control of your life. 
  2. Learn about psychosomatic diseases. 
    At times what you suffer from is directly linked to a lack of boundaries. Learning more about this link will help you eventually understand the root problem of your health issue.
  3. Make a health inventory, outlining any and all health issues you’ve encountered since you were a child. 
    Track down any diseases you suffered from and become curious about whether there was any connection with them and the lack of boundaries you had with others or an inability to take control of your life and its due space. This will help you to build awareness around your health state and how it can be related to a lack of boundaries in your life. 

You can go even further of course by…

  1. Hiring a life coach to guide you through areas of communication you may need to improve in order to set clear boundaries in the relationships in your life. 
  2. Seeing a counsellor if you believe the health issue might have an emotional root due to childhood abuse or neglect.

Read my blog post Why Am I Addicted to Toxic Relationships? to find out more about the effects of lacking boundaries in relationships,  Self Awareness: A Lifetime Journey for more on the importance of getting to know yourself and steps on how to and Do I Need a Life Coach? for an in-depth look at how to find the right coach for you and who needs a life coach to begin with.

If you've recognised certain behaviours in your own life that you'd like some guidance dealing with, click the button below.


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header image by Karl Magnuson

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