5 Tips For Setting Boundaries
When I posted a story on Instagram the other day which had a poll where I asked followers to vote for which self care topic they struggled with more: setting boundaries or making mistakes; I wasn’t surprised at all to see that 75% of you voted for setting boundaries.
There are a few reasons why setting (healthy) boundaries may be one of the most difficult acts of self care that we take part in. I know I’ve personally struggled with setting boundaries in the past, and have found that since I’ve set them, I’ve made huge steps forward on my healing journey.
Setting boundaries may be difficult because we are afraid of how people may react, or if they’ll be insulted by our new “rules.” When we set boundaries with people, they may push back. For those of us who are more relaxed or laid back, we might let them. It can be difficult to stand up for yourself in any situation, but it can be even more difficult when you’re struggling to find your voice or you’re trying to cope with other things going on internally.
Boundaries are important and necessary, so here are 5 tips to help you set them.
Have a clearly defined boundary in mind If you don’t know what boundaries you want to set, how will you set them? You need to evaluate what things in your life are not serving your higher good. Look at areas of your life where you feel you may be lacking control. Observe your interactions with others. Do you feel like they speak over you? Do you let them make decisions for you when you want to make the decision? Are you trusting your intuition? When the little voice inside cries out, listen to it. It is your guiding force, your highest self, speaking out. Don’t doubt it and shove those thoughts aside. Use that intuition, that inner-voice, to help you see where you need to place boundaries in your life and in your relationships.
Remember why you want to set the boundary Once you have a clearly defined boundary, think about the “why.” Why are you setting this boundary? Why is this boundary necessary for your life or your relationship? What will improve because of this boundary? What does life look like once this boundary is set? How does this boundary make you feel? The reasons behind a boundary are just as important as the boundary itself. Make sure you’re setting this boundary for the right reasons. Boundaries are not selfish, but they prioritize your needs.
Be prepared to stand up for your boundary (based on the reasons in number 2) If you were concerned that people might push back against your new boundaries, then you might have been right. Not all of the time, but some of the time people might feel offended by your new sense of power or confidence. They might even feel threatened by them. If you were letting someone walk all over you before, then they might be surprised by your new boundary setting.
When setting the boundary, use definitive language Often, we try to set boundaries and fail. A lot of times this is due to the fact that the way we vocalize a boundary isn’t definitive. We may dance around the issue or use words that aren’t concrete. For example, “I don’t know if I can stay long.” This is not the beginning of setting a boundary. A boundary is a fact. Instead say, “I am only staying for an hour.” No explanation required. You are using definitive language and not leaving anything up for debate. When you set a boundary like this, you may get the occasional, “Why?” And you’ll need to reflect back to number 3 of this post where you reflect back on the reasons why you are setting this boundary. Of course, another boundary may be that you DON’T need to give any reason at all! You could just simply state the fact and not answer any further questioning. Remember that you aren’t required to justify your decisions to anyone, unless you want to of course.
Follow through If you set boundaries, and you’ve gotten pretty good about numbers 1-4, then the most important piece of the puzzle is going to be actually sticking to these new boundaries and following through. If you said you are only staying for an hour, only stay for an hour. If you tell someone that you aren’t comfortable with something they said, remind them the next time they say it. If you stop following through with your boundaries, you will find yourself eventually back at step 1. Not just that, but people may not take you as seriously the next time around when you attempt to set a boundary with them and this can make things more difficult for you in the long run.
“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” -- Anna Taylor
You don’t set boundaries for others, you set them for yourself. When others are offended by your boundaries, that affirms exactly why you needed to set those boundaries in the first place. It can be really empowering to set a boundary, especially when it is a difficult one.
It is my opinion that boundary setting is the highest form of self care and love. When you prioritize your feelings, needs, and goals, you show yourself just how much you care about you.
So set boundaries. Move forward knowing that you’re doing these things for the right reasons. Your inner child thanks you!