Boundaries are vital to healthy relationships and a healthy life. Knowing your limits and understanding what they are helps you set better boundaries.
1. Name Your Limits
The only way to set good boundaries is to identify your limits. Take time to think about what you can tolerate and what makes you feel stressed or uncomfortable. You don’t have to feel guilty for not behaving as others might want you to, or for not giving others what they expect of you.
2. Listen To Your Feelings
Anger, rage, complaining, and feeling threatened, suffocated, or victimized can offer valuable clues about boundaries that may need to be set. While discomfort and resentment are cues that our boundaries are slipping away. Remember, you don’t have to be “nice” to people who aren’t nice to you.
3. Be Direct
Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries doesn’t always require direct and clear-cut dialogue. However, there are other times you will need to be direct. You may feel ashamed or afraid whenever you begin to set them, but it’s for your own good.
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4. Give Yourself Permission
Fear, guilt, and self-doubt may hold you back from fully enforcing your boundaries, but remember, boundaries are also a sign of self-respect. Give yourself permission to set boundaries and preserve them. You have a right to be who you are and to live your own life harmlessly, regardless of whether others don’t like it.
5. Practice Self-Awareness
You cannot simultaneously set a limit with someone and also take care of their feelings. They may feel hurt, angry, or disappointed, which isn’t your problem. Honor your feelings and hold your boundaries. When you begin to slip, ask yourself: “What has changed?” or “What about the situation is making me resentful or stressed?” Then, find out your action plan: “What am I going to do that I have control over?”
6. Recognize Your Past & Present
Ignoring your own needs might have become normal to you in the past. Think about your relationships, and see if there is a healthy give and take. Relationships aren’t the only thing that can test your boundaries – your environment may be unhealthy too. If your workday is eight hours long, but your coworkers stay 10-11 it can be challenging to be the one to maintain healthy boundaries.
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7. Self-Care Is A Priority
Practicing self-care is practicing putting yourself first. Self-care will help you recognize your need to set stronger boundaries. Putting yourself first can also give you energy, peace of mind, and positive outlook on life. You have a need and a right to love, respect, and stand up for yourself.
8. Ask For Support
Boundaries can be difficult for people who haven’t set them before (and even the people who set them regularly). Find a support group, counseling, coaching, church, or good friends.
9. Be Assertive
Nobody can demand to know your mind or your business, and nobody has the right to tell you what to think, feel or do. You have absolute rights to your thoughts, feelings, values, and beliefs. Even the smartest people won’t be able to read your mind, so assertively communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary.
10. Start Small
Communicating your boundaries takes practice, so starting with a small boundary that isn’t threatening is a good place to start. Incrementally increase to more challenging boundaries and build upon your success. Setting consistent, healthy boundaries takes courage, practice, and support so stick to it.