Do you ever feel that people take advantage of you for their emotional gain? Have you ever found yourself constantly taking on other people’s problems and making them your own? Do the people in your life make you feel guilty for standing up for yourself when they do you wrong? If you answered “Yes.” to any of these questions, you may be lacking healthy boundaries in your relationships. When it comes to relationships and dealings with other people, sometimes it can be draining. Sometimes, people take your kindness for weakness and take advantage of that leaving you feeling unhappy and mistreated. Regardless of what type of relationship it is, it’s important to have some boundaries. Here’s how to set healthy boundaries in your relationships.
What are Boundaries?
By definition, a boundary is a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line. When it comes to relationships, a boundary is a line of respect. When you set boundaries, you’re limiting unpleasant or unwanted behaviors in your dealings with other people. It’s a healthy way to navigate your relationships (both personal and professional) and be clear about the way you want to be treated by others.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to setting healthy boundaries in your relationships. Knowing what your boundaries are is very personal and will vary from person to person. Regardless, we all have a right to protect ourselves.
Further, not all boundaries are created equally. There’s a clear and distinctive difference between a poor boundary and a healthy one. Poor boundaries are usually set to try and control other people and their actions/lives. Whereas with healthy boundaries, you’re taking responsibility for YOUR actions and emotions. It’s very important to know the difference.
The Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries in Relationships
When you set boundaries in your relationships, you’re protecting your emotional, physical and mental space. Having clear boundaries and maintaining them in your relationships will enable you to live a more happy and fulfilling life. Having personal boundaries is essential for our overall health, mental well-being, and physical safety. Not only that, setting the precedent for healthy boundaries can have a positive long-term impact on your relationships because you’re eliminating confusion, resentment and all the disappointment that can come when two people are not on the same page.
Unfortunately, some people will run you into the ground if you allow them to. And you, my friend, are no good to anyone if you can’t take care of yourself and know when and how to put yourself first. That being said, just as you are entitled to set boundaries with others, it is a two-way street. It’s good practice to be mindful of other people and honor and respect their personal boundaries as well.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
There’s nothing wrong with standing up for yourself and being honest about your feelings. Here’s how to set healthy boundaries in your relationships.
Get Clear on What Your Values Are
What’s important to you? Take a moment to think about your hardcore values, things that are extremely important to you. What are your hard limits (non-negotiable) and soft-limits (you’re willing to be flexible and compromise)? It’s clear to under stand and be clear about what your limitations are.
Communicate Your Boundaries
People won’t know what lines to cross if you don’t let them know what they are. And most of the time it’s not what you say, but how you say it. You can communicate your healthy boundaries in a healthy non-conflicting way. Be clear, upfront, respectful, yet assertive about what you’re saying and what your boundaries are. This includes learning the power of the word no and why you have the right to say it.
Be prepared for their reaction
Now, setting boundaries and communicating them is great, but remember that you cannot control how someone may receive them. Truth be told, some people are not mature enough to have these types of conversations or respect you enough to listen to what you’re saying. Going in, be prepared, and keep your cool no matter what. In essence, if this person doesn’t receive your (healthy) boundaries well, they’re showing you that they don’t respect you. Not only that, you may be in a toxic relationship (See my post: “5 Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship” here) and you may need to distance yourself from them.