10 Tips to Setting Appropriate Boundaries
You may have heard someone talking about boundaries in a relationship but weren’t really sure what they meant by that. Well, boundaries are what we use to tell other people what is and what is not OK in their relationship with you. It is how you broadcast how you want to be treated. And it is how you define where you end and the other person begins.
Why are boundaries important?
Boundaries are important in order for us to have healthy relationships. They allow us to communicate our needs and wants to the other person, and what is allowed in our relationship together. In this way, they can protect us from getting hurt, and allow us to become more intimate and open within our relationships.
What happens when Good Boundaries Aren’t Maintained?
When you aren’t able to keep good, healthy boundaries, there can be a number of different consequences. For instance, other people may take advantage of you and end up hurting you, you might end up being pushed to do things you don’t want to do or things that are bad for you, or you might find that all of your relationships are shallow because you aren’t able to be vulnerable with others. Basically, if you don’t set boundaries, you are allowing others to tell you what to think, how to feel, and how to behave.
10 Tips on Setting Boundaries
1. Start by setting small boundaries. If you aren’t used to setting boundaries with people, this will make it less intimidating to you. Also, it will make it easier for those people around you who aren’t used to you setting boundaries with them. For example, if you find yourself always apologizing for things that aren’t your fault, try something different like saying “That must have been really hard on you”, rather than “I’m sorry”
2. Practice saying “No”. You can start with small things and work your way up to the more important issues. You can absolutely do this, and you don’t even have to give a reason why! “No” is a complete answer.
3. Be kind! There is no need to be mean or aggressive when setting boundaries. You can say what you need in a nice tone of voice and be kind to the person you’re talking to
4. Respect people’s personal space and ask others to do the same for you. If it feels like they’re standing too close, then they are! You can ask them to step back.
5. Use “I-statements” when communicating what you need. This basically is “I feel _________ when __________ because _________”. So “I feel sad when I’m left home alone because it makes me think you don’t want me with you.” Stating your feelings and needs this way makes it more likely that the other person will hear you because it doesn’t blame or confront them.
6. It is OK to ask for time for yourself and to have interests of your own that you don’t share with your partner or family member. It’s actually important for your mental and emotional well-being.
7. Ask for and expect respect from those around you. It’s not OK for others to put you down all the time or to name-call or otherwise disrespect you.
8. Your feelings are your own. They often can differ from those around you, and that’s ok. You are responsible for your own feelings and no one else’s. If someone else is angry (or sad or disappointed or happy, etc) it is NOT your responsibility. You do not need to fix it. You are only responsible for your own feelings. Of course, this means that you have to manage your own feelings in a healthy manner as well.
9. You have a right to privacy. This can be the privacy of what’s on your phone, a journal, your thoughts, or just about anything. You get to decide what, how much, and to whom you will share. Don’t allow anyone else to bully you into sharing something if you’re not comfortable doing so.
10. Be consistent! If setting boundaries is new for you, you might have to set the same boundary several times. Although this might be frustrating, keep setting that boundary! Eventually, that other person will learn to respect it, or you’ll learn something about that person, and you can choose how to carry on the relationship with them based on this new knowledge.
It will most likely take some time and practice to get good at setting healthy boundaries, but you will find the benefits are worth it in the end! If you’d like to talk more about this or are interested in getting some self-esteem counseling, please click the link!