Has anyone ever mistreated you? Maybe they said something unacceptable to you? Or they tried to make you do something against your values? At that time, did you try to stop them, or did you just suffer through it because you didn’t want to hurt their feelings? Well, kudos to you if you stopped them then and there! If you didn’t or couldn’t stop them, however, you need to read on, my friend.
If, at the time, you didn’t have the “guts” to belt out an emphatic “no,” then you probably haven’t ever set boundaries in your life. What boundaries? you make ask. Well, personal boundaries – the guidelines that establish how people can treat you, and how they should behave when they’re near your personal space.
When you think of the word “boundaries,” do you just think of restrictions and limitations? Sure, it can refer to those, but there are also personal boundaries that people set in their own lives and relationships. These real-life boundaries aren’t rigid fences covered in “no trespassing” signs; they are merely intangible markers and barriers that you impose to assert your personal space.
Since personal boundaries are intangible, unwritten norms to which all parties must conform, it can often be challenging to fully understand and clearly convey them. That being said, you can set boundaries for your personal space, sexuality, possessions, culture, faith, ethics, time, and energy.
No matter the size of your boundary, no matter how big or small it is, you need to be assertive about it. If someone crosses the boundary you set, be loud and vocal about it, communicating it to them since people aren’t mind readers – just must make sure you are polite and respectful when you do so.
Why do you need to set boundaries?
Do you often say “yes” to party invites, even if you do not want to go to, or do you help your friends with work even though you have a lot of your own to catch up on? If this describes you, then that is a big clue, friend. You try to please people, unable to say “no” because you do not want to hurt their feelings. Well, you are a nice person, we give you that… but, honestly, you are disrespecting yourself.
For starters, understand that speaking your mind or denying a weekend getaway for once is not going to make you a bad person. Instead, sticking up for yourself and setting boundaries will save you from depleting your own emotional and physical energy.
Although you might think that setting boundaries could limit you, it will actually set you free, allowing you to do the things you really enjoy. You will be liberated from that lingering sense of obligation, finally able to live your life with authority and on your own terms. In addition to that, setting boundaries will also save you from being naive and gullible, meaning those with nefarious intentions will have a hard time manipulating you.
Benefits of boundaries
Let us look at some more benefits of setting boundaries:
1. Boundaries help you meet your needs
We all have physical and emotional needs, and setting boundaries is an excellent way of fulfilling those. When you set boundaries, you become much more assertive with your needs, and in so doing, you increase the odds of actually getting what you want.
2. Boundaries prevent resentment and stress
If you have set boundaries and others are aware of them, nobody will walk over you, so you will not be resentful. You will not beat yourself up over being passive and letting people get the best of you. On the contrary, you will become a much stronger person, one who cannot be lied to and manipulated. This will help you stay stress-free, as you will not have to worry about or focus on what others think.
3. Boundaries help you maintain healthy relationships
People are often mistreated in toxic relationships, but they are rarely vocal about it. If both partners have boundaries in place, however, there is less risk of coercion. In this way, boundaries help people strike the right balance between prioritizing themselves and giving their partners time and attention.
4. Boundaries makes you feel safe
Setting boundaries will save you from verbal and emotional violence, as well as physical abuse. They will help you dissuade others from mistreating you, while keeping you at ease, as you will not have to waste energy on blaming or doubting yourself all the time.
What are your rights?
While setting boundaries, people tend to forget that they are not being selfish by prioritizing themselves. Setting boundaries is not selfish; instead, it will help you achieve better physical and emotional health. Also, keep in mind that you are merely exercising your fundamental rights when you do not allow certain – toxic – people into your personal space. Let us tell you about some other rights of which you might not be aware:
- You have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty.
- You have the right not to do things just based on what is expected of you.
- You have the right to be treated with respect.
- You have the right to give precedence to your own needs and wants.
- You have the right to accept your failures and mistakes.
If you keep these rights in mind, you will not feel obligated to appease others when you do not feel like it. The best part is that you will not feel the need to guilt trip yourself about prioritizing your rights.
How to set boundaries
1. Start small
Much the same as driving a stick or playing a musical instrument, setting boundaries is a skill that cannot be learned overnight. It takes time and effort – a lot. This is especially true if you have been a people-pleaser all your life; you’ll be hard-pressed to say “no” for the very first time. Your friends might even be stunned to hear you say that word. But hey! There is a first time for everything, isn’t there? Get the ball rolling by setting some small boundaries and then, gradually, set more significant boundaries in place as you learn to live with the smaller ones.
2. Be assertive
No matter how big or small your boundary is, you need to be assertive about it. If someone crosses the boundary you set, be loud and vocal about it, communicating with them while keeping in mind that people are not mind readers. Make sure you are polite and respectful when you do that.
3. Identify your limits
Before you set your boundaries, you have to identify what makes you feel uncomfortable, considering what you can tolerate and what is acceptable to you. This is important because, if you do not know where you currently stand, you will not be able to set boundaries.
4. Get the cues that your feelings are giving
Resentment and discomfort are the two feelings you experience when you know that you are letting go of your boundaries. If you are being misused, or someone is pushing their opinions or beliefs on you, you will probably feel resentful. If you do, that is a cue for you to stop the other person then and there.
5. Be direct
Most of the time, conveying to people that you feel a little uncomfortable does not require clear-cut dialogue, as your reactions are enough to reveal your feelings to them. That being said, you may have to be pretty specific about your boundaries with people with different personalities or cultural backgrounds.
6. Practice self-awareness
Boundaries are all about honoring yourself and your feelings. If you feel incompetent when trying to sustain your boundaries, then you should ask yourself, “why is it happening?”, “How can I control the situation?” and “How can I stop the other person from crossing my boundary?”
7. Permit yourself to set boundaries
Rather than feeling guilty and obligated to do something against your values (and then regretting it later on), you should give yourself permission to set boundaries, prepared to go the extra mile to preserve them.
8. Prioritize self-care
You should understand that loving yourself is a priority; doing so will motivate you to stop others from crossing your personal boundaries. You should recognize how you feel and respect your emotions. Ironically, if you prioritize yourself, you will be better at helping others, as you will be helping them whole-heartedly, not just because you feel obligated.
How can others know about your boundaries? Communication. It is the key to helping your acquaintances and partner understand what makes you feel comfortable. Don’t worry about making the other person feel it, too. In a healthy relationship, your partner will most likely be more than happy that you communicated with them, respectfully honoring your boundaries.
So, there you have it! Now you know the importance of setting boundaries in our lives and how to do it effectively! Do you have anything you would like to add to what we said in this blog? Let us know in the comments below.