How to Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is not something that comes easy. For most, setting boundaries can be somewhat uncomfortable especially when you feel guilty for doing so. Before you can set healthy boundaries you have to do some soul searching to identify your limits. Boundaries are rules and limits a person creates to identify what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways others can treat, act or behave around him or her and how they will respond if and when someone pushes them beyond their limits. Boundaries can be physical, mental, psychological and spiritual involving your beliefs, emotions, perceptions and self-esteem.
“Setting boundaries is a positive, healthy necessity for one’s life which will empower and raise confidence in one self.” ~Unknown
Personal Boundaries, Communication and Relationships
Boundaries are essential for healthy relationships and individual wellbeing. Boundaries can protect you from harmful situations or harmful toxic people. Personal boundaries serve a purpose to protect you and to help you take care of yourself. Everyone has the right to protect and defend who they are and how they will be treated… We each have a duty to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us. When someone has crossed a boundary or pushed you beyond your limits it is important to communicate your feelings without blaming.
It will be your closest relationships that bring the most challenging situations for setting and sustaining your boundaries. In your close relationships your inner child can be greatly affected reducing your ability to stand up for yourself because that child within does not feel worthy, feels defective and shameful which makes setting boundaries in your close relationships a terrifying process. When you have unresolved issues from childhood and thus a wounded child exists within… you may be terrified of setting boundaries for fear that everyone will leave.
What you must realize is that by setting boundaries you are actually healing. When you set boundaries, you are taking care of yourself, and when you are taking care of yourself that wounded inner child is finally being protected.
How to Build, Set and Preserve Better Boundaries
Name your Limits: Knowing where you stand is important; identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits. Think about what you can tolerate and accept what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. This will help you identify your limits.
Tune into your Feelings: When you feel discomfort or resentment during an interaction or when you are in a situation ask yourself what is causing those feelings to come up. Resentment usually comes from feeling taken advantage of or not appreciated. This can be a sign that you are the one pushing yourself beyond your own limits because you feel guilty (and want to do good or be good for someone else) or someone else is imposing their expectations, views, and values onto you. When you feel uncomfortable, it is a cue that someone is crossing your boundaries.
Be Direct: Be open honest and be clear in communicating your boundaries. While some might think challenging someone’s opinions makes for a healthy debate, others may find that insulting and disrespectful. Make sure that in your communication you are not blaming someone for how you feel.
Give yourself Permission: Do not feel bad or guilty for enforcing your boundaries. When self-doubt sets in you set yourself up to be taken advantage of because you allow yourself to feel guilty for speaking up or saying no to someone. Remember, you deserve to have your boundaries.
Practice Self-Awareness: Hon in on your feelings and honor them this is what boundaries are all about. Notice when you are not sustaining your boundaries. If you feel resement or stress it is your first cue that you have been pushed beyond your limits or your boundaries have been crossed. Step back and become aware of the situation so you can define your options to move on.
Consider your Past and your Present: How were you raised what roles you played when you were younger will greatly influence your ability to in settingand sustaining boundaries. Take notice of the people you surround yourself with, do they take more then they give? Are your relationships reciprocal?
Make Self-Care your #1 Priority: Give yourself permission to put yourself first!
Seek Support: If you are struggling with setting or sustaining boundaries you might consider seeking assistance from a therapist, a friend or support group.
Be Assertive: In a respectful way, let the other person know if something is bothering you so that you have a chance to work through it together.
Start Small: Set smaller boundaries practice them and build until you have set boundaries that honoring your needs and feelings.