Setting healthy boundaries can be daunting if you’re not used to doing it. Fear not, I’m here to help! You’ll learn some tips on how to set healthy boundaries to protect your peace and personal space.
Maintaining healthy boundaries in a loving and proactive manner is not an easy chore, and it may be daunting at times. Telling others what you need may seem selfish, confrontational, or even nasty.
However, boundaries are vital because they enable you to feel secure and respected both physically and emotionally. Respecting your limits helps you take better care of yourself, builds trust, cuts down on burnout, and makes your relationships more meaningful and authentic.
And there is a method to do so that preserves your best interests while also helping loved ones to better understand you. While most of you were not taught this important life skill by your parents or in school, it is never too late to begin investigating how you could benefit from instilling clearer boundaries in your life.
Here are a few places to start:
1. Establishing Healthy Boundaries Through Tuning In
When we are approaching a personal limit, our bodies always find a way to physically express emotion. Take note if your jaw tightens or your hands clench. You may begin to squirm or break out in a cold sweat. You’ll notice you’ll trigger your fight, flight, or freeze response. Maybe it’s in your throat or stomach. No matter what the cause is, you should listen to your body and spend some time exploring your discomfort and figuring out what is blocking you.
2. Time to Recognize Your Priorities
Your time is an important and scarce resource. It’s the only resource you can’t get more of so use it wisely.
When you strive to satisfy everyone, you not only buy a one-way ticket to exhaustion and dissatisfaction land, but you also deprive yourself of the joy and progress that come from concentrating on what matters to you.
Make sure you’re not saying no to yourself the next time you say yes to someone. Make a list of priorities and compare it to where you spend your time and energy to see if you need to make any changes.
Try this brief journaling exercise:
If I’m the main person I’d want to impress and feel validated, what would I be saying yes to?
Write the first thing that comes to your mind and make an effort to be bluntly honest. Don’t shy away from what you might find. This is between you and you; embrace yourself.
3. Communication is Key to Setting Healthy Boundaries
When you have your gut feeling screaming NO, practice saying no. Yes, I know… it can be very hard, but you can do it. Start with something small and simple you can say no to. Maybe that could be no to working an extra 10 minutes today.
Small hinges swing big doors. Focus on progress, not on the size of it and you’ll get there.
You are not required to explain or provide an excuse. The following are comprehensive responses:
“I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
If someone you care about has crossed your limits, you may want to provide them with further information. As an example, “I was wounded and ashamed when you informed our friends about what was going on with my family. Please do not distribute information about me without my permission. My privacy is really essential to me.”
4. Get Used to Feeling Uneasy
When confronted with a personal boundary, you may feel uneasy, terrified, guilty, or apprehensive if you are not accustomed to establishing your limits. Allow yourself room and time to develop your tolerance. Breathing techniques, meditation, or chatting with a trusted friend or therapist may also help.
5. Make Space
If you’re ever caught off guard by someone breaching a boundary and don’t know what to say, give yourself permission to return to the discussion after you’ve had some time to ponder and recenter yourself.
Try something like, “I need some time to process what just happened. Let’s talk about this later. Feel free to hold me accountable.”
I added the accountability part because when others hold us accountable, it makes us prone to take action and you are strong enough to take consistent action. I believe in you.
6. Healthy Boundaries Can Change
Your limits will vary for various individuals, and they may evolve over time depending on your life circumstances and the course of a relationship. It is important to check in with yourself to verify that your relationship rules are comfortable for you.
And when I say relationships, I mean ALL of them; not just your romantic relationships. Your relationship with your parents, co-workers, bosses, family, etc.
If your limits are exceptionally strict or excessively lax, it might indicate that something is going on under the surface for you. If this is the case, you should consider seeking extra assistance.
There are many different service providers that can help you with this, but you must figure out what kind of help you need before investing in the right help for you.
Coaches help you reach your goals. They’re niched in different areas to support that.
Psychologists work on helping you heal from what you’ve lived through.
Counselors provide guidance and advice to help you work with what’s going on in your life.
7. Always Be Prepared
Don’t be shocked if some individuals respond negatively to your suggestions. When you establish a boundary, those who are controlling, manipulative, abusive, or who have unhealthy boundaries may be triggered.
Sometimes, there are humans that were not taught how to respect and set their own boundaries. Don’t take it personally, remember that their reactions are purely based on their map of the world and have nothing to do with you. Be patient and kind with both yourself and the humans you’re setting boundaries with.
You may explain your boundaries with compassion, but it is not your responsibility to make things acceptable to them. Your responsibility ends in communicating with them. Once the ball is in their court, it’s their time to respect those boundaries. Feel free to encourage them to let you know if they’re struggling with that so both of you can grow while mutually supporting each other.
8. Establish Consequences and Pull Through
Develop clarity about what you will do if someone frequently violates your limits.
Will you step away from the relationship?
Will you cease collaborating with them?
Choose something you are willing to undertake and stick to it.
If you’d like to try to set consequences on your own journal on:
What would I need to do to ensure my health and wellbeing if it’s broken?
If this is difficult for you, get assistance from a trusted friend, family member, counselor, coach, or therapist.
9. Respect Other People’s Healthy Boundaries
People often provide us with physical and verbal indications of their personal limits. Take note if they take a step back, avoid eye contact, or seem uneasy. Everyone is different, so their signals will signify and express various things.
If you’re Autistic like me, you may struggle to identify social cues. What I’ve done to make up for this mishap is explicitly ask people to share their boundaries with me if I’m not sure how they’ll react to a situation.
Cards on the table help relationships last longer. Make sure you understand the other person’s card and they understand yours.
10. Using Appreciative Communication
Sometimes the uneasiness of communicating a boundary feels almost impossible to overcome. Fear not! I have a script you can use to effectively communicate your boundaries without hurting the other person.
“When you -insert behavior here-, I feel like -insert your emotions here-. Would you be willing to -insert request here-?”
This type of approach helps you because you will help the listener of the message not feel defensive about your message.
Draft out all possible combinations that you can think of to communicate the message using this script and then pick the best one. After that, communicate it with the person in question. It’s alright if your preferred method of communication is not talking and it’s writing or texting.
The important thing is sharing the message from a point of appreciation and understanding. This will also help bring you closer to the person you’re trying to set healthy boundaries with.
Are you ready to meet and exceed your goals EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.? My Inevitable Success Kit is a step-by-step blueprint that shows you exactly what you need to do and how you need to do it so you can bridge your say-do gap and start building the life you’ve always wanted, unlock your potential… and live your life the way you always believed you could.