In your friendships, dating, & marriage
Honestly, setting boundaries is HARD for me. I have to be very intentional while doing it as it won’t come automatically. But I have learned that setting boundaries is a way of defining what is acceptable to you and upholding the integrity of the relationships. Boundaries are also not about changing people or teach them how to behave. They are a way for you to establish what you want and what you don’t want then act accordingly.
They can be compared to a guide that helps you control how people behave towards you, how they treat you, plus it helps you live an intentional life. Setting boundaries allow you to be yourself and create a healthy separation between you and others.
It is important to note that different boundaries work for different people. You don’t have to have boundaries that are similar to someone else’s. They are unique to your personality and your preferences.
You might also need different boundaries for different phases in your life. Even the different relationships you have need separate boundaries i.e. children, spouses, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues, strangers, etc.
For instance, no one is allowed to hit you, your children can wake you up at midnight if they need something while your boss shouldn’t, your spouse can touch your butt and a stranger should not even think about it.
Steps to setting boundaries in your relationships
Identify what you want
You need to be sure about what you want and why you need to have it. Before setting any boundary, you will need to be able to communicate your need and stand by it when the going gets tough. You won’t be able to let people know your boundaries if they are wishy-washy as they won’t know your specific expectations.
Be straight forward about your deal breakers
Being cryptic or vague just to avoid conflict will not help you in setting boundaries. Be direct, say what you mean, and mean what you say. You need to clearly state your deal breakers before getting into a new relationship. The deal breakers are a good foundation for setting boundaries because if you don’t state them, they will be broken.
Do not apologize for your boundaries
Apologies, explanations, and justifications of your boundaries tend to water down your message. Apologies show that you think you shouldn’t be asking for what you are asking for. Always stick to keeping it simple, you have the right to ask for what you need, and no explanation is needed. This can be hard for people-pleasers as you want to spare the other’s feelings. Remember ‘NO’ is also a sentence on its own.
Do not let resistance keep you down
If someone has been benefiting from your lack of boundaries, they will resist the changes you are trying to make. Don’t let them manipulate you into giving up. Stick to your boundaries and don’t let the coercion get to you. The fear of conflict might tempt you to go back to your former passive self. However, always ensure you are safe from anyone threatening violence and ask for help if you feel threatened.
Address boundary violation early
We often hear the idiom ‘nip it in the bud’ and forget how important it is to do just that. You should halt something in its early stages. Waiting for it to grow into a big plant will make it more difficult to cut. Speak up the moment someone has violated your set boundaries. Don’t wait until they have done it repeatedly for you to raise your voice. People are not mind-readers to know they are doing you wrong if you don’t communicate.
Have a self-awareness inventory
A self-awareness inventory is mainly for your accountability. It makes you responsible for your own emotions and feelings. You can have a journal to write down your happy and angry moments. Whenever someone crosses a boundary and you got mad, write down what you did about it or how you can better handle the situation in the future. This makes you realize people are not responsible for your emotions unless you give them the power to.
Don’t use boundaries as personal attacks or a way to control others
Boundaries are not meant to be a source of personal attacks on people. They are meant to be a self-care practice to remind you that your dreams, wellbeing, feelings, ideas, and health matter. It isn’t about forcing people to do what you want. It is about doing what you want for you. If your relations continuously disrespect your boundaries after you have clearly outlined them, you can distance yourself from them. You can also end the relationship or emotionally detach yourself from them.
Have a support system
A support system will help you get through the uncomfortable feelings and self-doubt that come with making changes in your life. It can be a tough time in your life as you might lose some friends or face some resistance. You need someone to encourage you to keep going.
Setting boundaries takes practice and you may feel mean or guilty about it when you are starting. It’s important to remember that it’s because it is something new, your needs are valid and it gets easier with practice. Start being mindful of what you need in relationships, practice self-care, and self-love. Be patient and keep in mind that healthy boundaries are not only for you but for the people around you as well.