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Personal Boundaries


Setting personal boundaries are essential to creating healthy relationships. Unfortunately, few of us are taught how to do this when we are young. Think about the time your parents told you to give “auntie so and so” a hug. For a long time we were told that our personal boundaries play second fiddle to our social standards and expectations of courtesy. When we finally realize how important it is to set boundaries, we’re usually much older and have to learn the skill from scratch.

Episode 127: Personal Boundaries

How to Set Boundaries

Start small.
You aren’t going to become a pro at this overnight. That’s not how we develop new habits and skills. Like any new ability, you’re going to have to communicate your boundaries with others in a calm but assertive way. The best way to start is to determine a small boundary that you CAN work on. This is a safe and non threatening way to enter into this space.

Sometimes it is best to start by working on a boundary with someone you know and are close to. For example, your dad may like to call when you’re just waking up, even though you typically like to spend the quiet mornings with yourself. Your taking the call can put you in a negative head space and pull you out of your normal routine. How can you take this time to create a personal boundary? Tell your father that you love hearing from him and love to catch up, but early in the morning doesn’t work for you well and suggest a better time to talk. Starting with something that’s low pressure is a good way to start. You’ll begin to build confidence with your successes if you start small first. This way you can build on your wins without feeling too overwhelmed.

Define your limits.
It’s impossible to set boundaries if you don’t know what they are or where you stand. Take the time & energy needed to learn more about yourself. Namely your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual limits. Consider which behaviors from others you can tolerate and don’t feel bad for identifying those that make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t negate or belittle those feelings. They help us determine our limits. As you learn more about yourself and your limits you can then begin to communicate these with others.

Here’s an excellent way to start- you know those situations that inevitably cause you to feel uncomfortable, stressed or anxious for no good reason? There’s most likely a reason, you just haven’t identified it yet. The next time you’re feeling out of place or awkward in a specific situation, recognize these emerging feelings and try to understand what is causing them in the moment.

Be straightforward.
While it’s usually best to lead with kindness, there are often situations in which being kind is simply not enough. When someone mistakes your kindness for weakness, you may have to take on a more assertive tone. Those who share the same communication styles or general approaches to life typically have no problem discussing boundaries. Taking the time to discuss your boundaries and needs will ultimately help the relationship and build more respect.

Get in touch with your feelings.
Some of the most notable feelings associated with not setting proper personal boundaries are stress, discomfort and resentment. If you’re continually feeling these emotions, it may be a wise choice to explore why they may be so present in your life. Begin to question what may be the cause. Do they come about during a conversation with a particular person? When we feel this way, it’s usually because we’re pushing ourselves beyond the limits that we’re actually comfortable with. Nobody ignores their feelings on purpose. It’s usually a response to wanting to be a better person and a hard worker.

Being self aware.
This plays a significant role in knowing and setting your own personal boundaries. This is where you’ll learn more about yourself and how you feel. If you aren’t able to tell what makes you feel tension, then you won’t be able to fix it. As you find yourself feeling these emotions it’s essential to ask yourself, “What am I going to do?” “What about this person’s actions are making me feel this way?”

Self care.
Setting personal boundaries begins with yourself. Self care means that you’re prioritizing yourself and become more motivated to set healthy boundaries. This sense of initiative is important to the cues that carve out what makes you happy. Making yourself a priority also provides the peace of mind needed to be more present with others. This sense of care improves our emotional intelligence.

Consider your past.
Thinking about how you were raised or the role that you played in your childhood group of friends can significantly help you set boundaries now. For example, if you were a caretaker for someone close to you, you likely learned how to focus on others. But, you probably let yourself become physically or emotionally drained by your interactions with others. In this case ignoring your own needs and feelings may come more naturally to you. Look at where you are with your relationships right now. Are you surrounded by people that give as much to the relationship as you do? It’s essential to consider your environment too.

The Benefits of Setting Boundaries

Often when we try new things that are challenging, it helps to know that there is something much greater waiting on the other side. This is why we’re going to be doing things that might be difficult or uncomfortable at first, because the benefits far outweigh any negative aspect that we may experience.

You will lose some friends.
I know this does not sound like a benefit, but hear me out. Most of us hate the idea of doing a disservice to someone’s feelings. Even to the point that we’ll make ourselves feel bad to make someone else feel better. This is a perfect example of not following our own boundaries. When we allow ourselves to remain in these relationships, we are choosing to maintain a state of displeasure. When you decide to finally enforce some of your limits you may lose some people that are important in your life. It may hurt at first. The important thing to remember is that you’re working on creating a positive progression in your life. Consider the fact that your boundaries and theirs might not match.

Some of your relationships will grow stronger.
This is because you’ve effectively set intentions on what is and is not acceptable. There will be a deeper understanding between you and those close to you. Setting boundaries isn’t about shutting people out. It’s about defining how you choose to communicate and interact with those around you. That clarity that is a result of setting boundaries can set you up for a healthier relationship down the line. The same goes for you. You need to respect the boundaries of others because it’s a two way street. When you can respect how someone important to you has expressed how they’d like to interact, they’ll be much more likely to respect your wishes.

You will become better at respecting the boundaries of others.
When you see how it feels to have personal boundaries that are respected, it can be wonderful. You’ll feel inspired to make others around you feel great as well. It is imperative that we treat others the way that we wish to be treated. Yes, this is the Golden Rule, but it has a lot with simply treating others with common courtesy. Sometimes it’s about showing and not telling. When you show someone the behavior you expect to receive as well, it’s more impactful.

You will improve your strength and assertiveness.
Finding strength and self confidence is no easy task. It’s also not something that most of us are born with. When we feel confident within ourselves, we’re more likely to communicate with others because we feel strong enough to take on more challenging interactions. Here’s the unfortunate catch with this issue: in order to build more strength, you have to start practicing those things and that is going to be uncomfortable at first. As you start to push yourself in areas that are new, you’ll find they’re not as nearly as scary as you assumed. You will slowly start to build your confidence which will help you become more assertive in new situations. As you create your boundaries, you’ll find that it is better to communicate how you prefer to interact with others. Creating the life we want means telling others what our expectations are.

You will create your own happiness.
It is common for us to think that we will be happy once we achieve certain things. “I’ll be happy when…” That really isn’t the case. We don’t find happiness in achievements. We create them throughout our daily lives. That means it’s a consistent decision that we choose to create the lives that we consider happy or content. To create this life you have to create and enforce boundaries. It’s ultimately your responsibility how you want your life to look in regards to external relationships. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t. You get to define how you wish to communicate and interact with others and with the world.

Jennifer Deputy-2.jpg

Hello, I'm Jennifer Deputy

I am a writer, blogger, and traveler. Being creative and making things keep me happy is my life's motto.

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