Do you find it difficult to set boundaries? Quite a few people understand the everyday meaning of boundaries but fail to see them as personal limits that are important for healthy relationships. They’re essential because boundaries help us protect and take care of ourselves. If we fail to set boundaries, especially in our personal relationships, we can experience anger, resentment and disappointment when others cross or challenge our boundaries. Some people have boundaries so flexible that you might not even notice them, while others maintain strict and rigid boundaries that stifle their growth. As with most things, it’s best to avoid the extremes. Boundaries that are too rigid can prevent you from forming close relationships and make you seem distant. On the other hand, boundaries that are too loose can make it difficult for you to say “no” to others and cause you to attempt to please others for fear of being rejected.
When you’re setting boundaries, you must determine why they’re important to you, how they’ll benefit you and how they’ll improve your mental and emotional well-being. We set personal boundaries to identify reasonable and safe ways for other people to interact with us. These boundaries protect us, but they also make it easier for others to know how we’ll respond if they cross them. There’re many different types of boundaries. They can vary in degree of strictness depending on the situation, culture and place. For example, you might have relaxed and loose standards with loved ones and close friends but more rigid ones with colleagues at your workplace. A lack of boundaries can lead to emotional constipation and physical fatigue. Blurred boundaries, especially between your home and workplace, can also lead to unhealthy lifestyles, family conflicts and other problems. Let’s look at how to go about creating boundaries or successfully enforcing existing ones.
Boundaries are essential for many reasons and look different to everyone. If you don’t have existing boundaries, it’s always best to start slowly. Don’t get overwhelmed. And make sure you set them early. It’s more challenging to set boundaries in an existing relationship than to introduce them from the start. Being consistent is also crucial. As I mentioned earlier, blurred or inconsistent boundaries can confuse and hurt others. Social media presents a problem, too, as these platforms encourage some people to blur boundaries by “oversharing.” This is where communication plays a key role. You must be willing to communicate your boundaries and thresholds if someone is overstepping them. It’s also essential that you love yourself and be your biggest cheerleader. If you feel that you’re undeserving or are running any sort of negative internal dialog in your mind, it will be challenging to set the type of boundaries you need to protect yourself. Boundaries are a way for us to practice self-care and self-respect. Respect other people’s boundaries and ask that they respect yours.
Even if we’re sometimes unclear on what constitutes a boundary, we recognize what it feels like when someone crosses one. Some people overstep boundaries accidentally or intentionally. It’s bound to happen at some point. When that happens, how should you respond? What will be the consequences of their actions? Don’t be afraid to be assertive. It’s OK to stand up for yourself, and you can do this without hurting others. How you phrase your response is the key. Remember to say “I need” or “I feel” to express yourself without offending anyone. Every time you say “no” to someone else, you’re saying “yes” to yourself. Knowing that no one is taking advantage of you grows your self-esteem and self-confidence. “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything.” (Warren Buffett). Personal boundaries are vital for us to thrive, maintain healthy relationships and communicate our needs and desires without fearing repercussions.
The two letters that make up “no” are powerful. As children, they’re often how we first defy our parents. We must use this word more often as we get older. Don’t allow others to determine what you like or who you are. If you do, you’re allowing them to control you. Don’t expect others to fill your needs or make you happy. That’s your job. Don’t give away your power to control your life. Don’t be afraid that others won’t like you if you say no to their requests. If someone doesn’t like you for not helping them, then they really weren’t your friend. Boundaries are for our personal well-being and protection. Saying “no” is an acquired skill. It’s not easy. People pleasers tend to say “yes” because they believe they must keep their friends happy even if it’s harmful. Saying “yes” to something you don’t want to do will breed resentment, bitterness and eventually anger at yourself. The best advice is to focus on the request itself rather than the person requesting. Saying “no” is not rejection or refusal. It’s just setting boundaries.