How To Set Boundaries
I came from a place of self-sabotage and co-dependency, I couldn’t make decisions without the validation and influence of people and constantly seek their approval or thoughts to the paths and directions I took.
I was literary a people pleaser, identifying with negative self-talk, resisting change, focusing on my shortcomings rather than my growth and potential, comparing myself to others, relying on external validation, focusing on the past and not the future and this amplified my fears and limited me.
I barely had a healthy relationship with myself due to the environment, toxicity and actions I tolerated for so long from people. I was not attuned to who I was, not intentional about my actions, I wasn’t proactive about my truth or validated my experience. I simply rolled down the miles based on the puddles of people’s current and this made me redundant and silent for so long.
I was neatly wrapped in the fear of rejection which looked like;
- Always waiting for something to go wrong.
- Prioritizing others over myself.
- Ignoring my innate worth.
- Assuming others will focus on my flaws and not my strength.
- Being passive when dealing with conflict.
- Hiding and altering my true self to adjust.
- Avoiding vulnerability.
- Drowning in toxic relationships.
- Setting unrealistic expectations.
- Engaging in self-criticism.
I had no idea on how to set boundaries and how boundaries truly worked in outlining your growth level until I was able to authentically engage myself, and today I will be sharing some tools or tips on how to set boundaries to live your best life, lower your stress and figure out your life boundaries.
Have you ever wondered what life would be if we did not have the privilege of setting boundaries and dictating the rules that govern our lives?
Imagine you did not have control over what goes out of and comes into your life and anyone could just throw anything at you? Imagine you did not know how to set boundaries? Sounds like havoc, right? Don’t worry, I am here to walk you through the details on how to set boundaries.
You may be wondering what are boundaries? How do we build them? How do we heal when our boundaries are violated and how do we push through boundaries?
Boundaries could be in the littlest form of;
- Designating enough alone time.
- Saying ‘’no’’.
- Not prioritizing others’ needs over yours.
- Not trying to change/heal someone.
- Only taking responsibility for the things we should.
- Not texting an ex-partner.
- Walking away from a toxic situation or relationship.
- Treating our bodies with respect.
- Designating time for self-care.
- Establishing phone-free times.
- Not getting drunk when sad.
- Not taking on more tasks than we can manage.
I want you to take a moment and visualize a compass in your hand, this time with the directional arrows labeled in two words- Yes And No. This compass will be used to make life decisions, figure out life choices and set your boundaries for your whole life.
A compass is an instrument used for navigation that shows direction relative to the geographic cardinal direction. In the like, boundaries give the directive and paths we take; either to positively build our lives or negatively crumble it.
In the quest for survival, the struggle and bustle of making each day and each experience count encrypts a story into the walls of time and our stories are being shaped by what we give our consent to, what we are saying yes or no to. Your yes’s and no’s are the building blocks of boundaries.
Boundaries are not meant to limit you; they are meant for you to put yourself first and decide what you’ll allow to enter your personal space both physically and mentally. They best define the term that self-care is not selfish.
Setting, building and communicating boundaries can be herculean but navigating our boundaries into the minds of the people around us, is an essentiality for our well-being and safety. It is one of the multi-faceted routes to taking charge of our lives.
There are no limits to what boundaries could be set for: sexuality, personal space, values, possessions, time or energy to name a few.
Boundaries give a sense of control over one’s personal space, sexuality and/or feelings. It is normal to have limits and the communication of these limits to our friends, family and even strangers is the reason for creating boundaries. Our boundaries are influenced by our culture, location, personality trait, past experiences, family and so on.
Boundaries will show others
- Who you are.
- What you think you deserve.
- What you expect from them.
- What your needs are.
Here are a few questions on to set boundaries, build and maintain your boundaries
- Who am I?
- How do I define respect?
- How do I deserve to be treated?
- How will I respond if my boundaries are crossed?
- Why am I setting the boundary?
- What is my goal with this boundary?
- Does this boundary promote my well-being?
- Does this boundary resonate with who I am?
- What/who am I protecting with this boundary?
- Is this boundary respectful of who I am?
- Which of my core beliefs is the foundation of this boundary?
These self-reflection questions will enable you to set and adjust your boundaries or guide on how to set boundaries.
I vividly recall a few years back: I was not conscious about setting boundaries as I am today and I allowed friends, family, and even strangers comfortably robe me with an apparel of disrespect.
Daily, I was smeared with the ink of utter disregard. I desperately sought to conquer the moments of despair I had found myself. Little did I know that I was the cause of my despair. I never knew that I needed to bluntly or subtly state the limits to what I could accommodate. Rather, I took it all in the good, the bad and the ugly.
Thankfully, things changed after I discovered the importance of setting boundaries even with my closest friends. The introduction of boundaries gave free passage to peace and self-love and also filtered my friends. It was bliss!
Boundaries are beautiful but there are many misconceptions about them. It is popularly believed that setting boundaries gives chance for animosities, but, in contrast to that school of thought, boundaries help to fortify friendships, cement relationships and establish bonds.
Think about it. Imagine how beautiful life would be if everyone knew the limits to what their neighbors could take; imagine how peaceful and strong, friendships would be if we all knew our rules and respected them. Communication would be devoid of offensive content and blissful existence would be imprinted in the essence of humanity.
Even in relationships, establishing boundaries is crucial. One might think partners don’t have to communicate boundaries to each other or that clearly stating the rules constituting the boundaries, would kill the spice of the relationship but the truth is, no relationship can be healthy if both partners are not honest enough to share their boundaries.
Communicating your boundaries, allows both partners to enjoy the beauty of being comfortable in the relationship. It is imperative to be clear to your partner on who you are, what you want, your values and boundaries.
Clarity about these key questions will aid your partner to love you better. Your boundaries, regardless of the magnitude, deserve to be respected but they can only be when they are known.
Also, although this could be a bit tricky and risky, you can set boundaries at your workplace too. Your workplace is a place for serious business and you spend a lot of time there. The chances of the intricacies of your work spilling into your personal life are high, hence, setting boundaries is key.
You could easily get manipulated and disrespected at work but you can change that and teach your co-workers how to treat you better by setting boundaries.
And as I said earlier, there are risks attached to setting boundaries at your place of work -you could get demoted or even fired- but with proper practice and communication, it is possible. At your workplace, you can set boundaries about many things.
For example, you can set boundaries around: the number of hours you will work, the people you will give your contacts to, under what circumstances you’ll do over time, your stand on dating co-workers and many more! These boundaries would help you work better and shield you from unnecessary advances or inconsequential proposals from your boss or colleagues.
How To Set, Build And Preserve Boundaries Almost Anywhere, With Anyone
So far, we have looked into what setting boundaries mean and I have shared my experience on how it shined a ray of light to the darkness created by the disrespect I was facing at the time. Now, let’s examine a step-by-step guide on how to rightly set boundaries.
Grab a bar of chocolate as we go on this blissful journey!
1. Name Your Limits
You cannot set boundaries if you still have doubts regarding your stand about your values. Boundaries are all about limits and if you have not identified what your emotional, mental and spiritual limits are, you cannot identify what you can accept or reject.
For ease in identification, ask yourself “what are some of the things that makes me feel uncomfortable or stressed?”. When you can comfortably identify what they are, you will have no problems naming your boundaries.
2. Be Direct And Assertive
Of course, you shouldn’t go around being unnecessarily bossy and rude, but there are times when you should be blunt about what you can take and what you can’t. When you feel like your values are not being respected, you should speak up and when you do so, try to be as direct and assertive as possible.
Not communicating effectively can create a hole of doubts in the minds of your violators. Speak confidently and be blunt about what you do not want. Instead of saying “Take your hands off my stuff!”, you should say “I have to be honest with you, I feel disrespected when you touch my stuff without my consent. I know we’re close but please, respect my privacy.”.
As you can see, the first statement was bland and casual but the second statement, although still a bit casual, carried more weight and message. That is exactly what is required when setting boundaries. Be direct and real. It shows that you honor your boundaries and when you honor your boundaries, the people around you have no choice but to join you in honoring them. Truth is, in learning how to set boundaries, being direct and assertive is a must.
3. Let Your Behaviors, Not Your Words, Speak For You
A major boundary of mine is that, unless you are a relative or a close friend, I will never discuss my relationship with you. I am as private as I am busy, so when I give you a fragment of my time, I want you to attack the issue at hand, not discussing my relationship.
Now, that is a boundary I have set for myself and if you decide to disrespect it, you will be ignored. I make this boundary as clear as possible to everyone and when anyone decides to violate the rule, I simply take it as a test and completely ignore them.
It is normal for people to test, push and disrespect your boundaries and in responding, you necessarily do not have to talk back; let your actions do the talking. You will know you are getting healthier when you do not get riled up or unnecessarily emotional when doing this.
4. Permit Yourself
Always permit yourself to set the boundaries. You do not need permission from anyone else but yourself. You are the only one who knows how to set your boundaries. Fear and guilt are huge pitfalls and can hinder you from properly working to set and preserve our boundaries.
You do not deserve to be emotionally guilt-tripped into doing what you are not supposed to do. Way too many people believe that they need to cope with unpleasant situations and condone disrespect, just so they could be seen as good by society even though they feel taken advantage of.
This is a dangerous belief and should be eschewed. Boundaries are not just personal limits that shouldn’t be crossed, they are a symbol of self-respect that you do not need anyone’s permission to set, but yours. So, give yourself permission to set, build and preserve your boundaries.
5. Prepare For Violations
Again, your boundaries can be crossed anytime, anywhere and by anyone and so you need to visualize the future. Ask yourself “if my colleague crosses my boundary by touching my property without my consent, what would my reaction be?”.
Prepare an emotional line of action and think about what your reaction would be. By doing this, you are preparing yourself for moments like that and you definitely won’t be acting irrational when such happens.
When setting your boundaries, it is important to have it at the back of your mind that they can be violated by anyone at any time; preparing for such moments would help you not to be hijacked by your emotions. Instead of seeing your violations as pitfalls, preparation will make you see them as opportunities to up the system of setting your boundaries.
If however, after preparation you still find it hard to manage the situation, it’s advised to completely review the violation and take a new step, rationally of course.
6. Be Authentic: Say What You Mean And Follow Through With It
The communication of your boundaries should and must be done with clarity. The clearer the boundary, the more effective. Effective communication leaves no room for excuses and defines your direction when dealing with a violation of your boundary.
No matter how healthy your boundaries are, if you do not communicate them effectively, you would be making yourself an agent of confusion.
Also, your authenticity should never be questioned. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you are not comfortable with something, say it and maintain your stance. In practicing how to set boundaries, your authenticity plays a major role.
Knowing how to set boundaries is an important tool for survival in life. Boundaries are not always easy to set but with this proper guide on the steps to take, you are sure to make the best decisions in setting them.
If you are in an unhealthy relationship or marriage, it’s okay to say NO.
How To Set Boundaries With A Narcissist
Knowing how to set boundaries with a narcissist is one of the popular things people struggle with. It is so sad to note that today’s world is toxic and being entangled with a narcissist person can be threatening. We have to understand and accept that we all have our limits and narcissists are capable of devouring your limits to satisfy their needs and demands.
You set boundaries with a narcissist by enforcing firm words, practice, and restraint, analyzing what you want and what is good for you; mentally and physically. This can be extremely difficult, but with continual practice, you can enforce your limits.
To set healthy boundaries with a narcissist you have to;
- Know where to draw the line.
- Have an exit plan.
- Set your goals or agenda.
- Don’t explain or overshare.
- Return your focus to yourself.
- Have more compassion for yourself.
- Devolve into self-love and self-care.
- Focus on being the person you want to be and
- Knowing what you stand for.
You have to understand that your boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices. It is a way of caring for yourself, it doesn’t make you mean, selfish or uncaring. One important factor in setting boundaries is the ability to say no.
Staying silent is like slow-growing cancer to the soul. There is nothing intelligent about not standing up for yourself. You may not win every battle, however, everyone will at least know what you stand for. Boundary setting is for all aspects of your life and it is crucial to living a healthy life.
How To Set Boundaries In A Relationship
Setting boundaries is not just limited to your actions but your relationship as well. In every relationship we indulge in, there is always a limit our emotional jar as I like to call it can be exposed to.
But most times we do not pay attention to it, we neglect ourselves to please our partners, we constantly validate the needs and emotions of our partner that we yield off in silence.
This is turn gives our relationship a toxic turn. There is always a limit you can intrude into people’s space as well as emotion, and to set healthy boundaries, you must know what you want in the relationship, understand the kind of relationship you have and the people involved in the relationship.
Some relationship permits somethings while others don’t; the ability to properly fix these pieces in your relationship brings a healthy boundary. It could be deciding on being elusive, not moving in until you are married, pursing and having a life of your own.
Now there are certain questions you can ask to guide you in your relationship
- Do I have permission to be myself in this relationship?
- Am I staying in this relationship because I am scared of being alone?
- Do my partner and I have healthy boundaries?
- What is my intuition telling me?
- What are my expectations in this relationship?
- Does this relationship support my growth?
- How does my partner generally make me feel?
Proper analysis of these questions will enable you to set the right boundaries in your relationship.
How To Set Boundaries With Friends
In life, we are bound to meet with different people and every one of these people wear unique cloaks of characters and behaviors.
As humans, we all strive to have better connections with one another and build bridges that lead us to a blissful route but realistically, we have to admit that not all of our values can be genuinely accepted by everyone and there are limits to what we can accommodate; this singular reason is why there is a need to set boundaries.
Your beliefs, values, and needs have to thoroughly spelt to out to your friends and their ability to honor and accept those boundaries qualify them as valuable friends. And I trust you do not want to spend your time chasing people who aren’t after your mental and physical well-being.
How To Set Boundaries With Family
Daily, life presents us with opportunities to access different worlds through our workplaces, homes, school, family, relationships and many more. Likewise, people also have the opportunity to explore the ambits of our lives. This is an unavoidable ritual and to survive, one must set boundaries. You may be wondering how to set boundaries with family.
You have to outline or define your purpose, needs and want to carefully set boundaries as family matters but your mental state matters most to enjoy your family. Know that no is enough, it is your option and it matters a lot, set consequences, take time to think about what you want to do, and learn the signs a boundary has been crossed.
How To Set Boundaries At Work
Setting boundaries at work might be a struggle there is oftentimes a clash between work and yourself, there is the urge to play your cards wisely between getting fired, demoted and having clear communication.
Know that when you respect your boundaries you teach other people to respect your boundaries as well. Setting your boundaries at work can entail knowing the number of hours you’ll work, under what circumstances and conditions you’ll work overtime. You have to know your values, communicate clearly, and be able to bring up a boundary violation right away.
Pin this for later