A Necessity for An Authentic Life.
am all about being true to myself, and this attitude/mentality has constantly reminded me to set my boundaries well. While they are essential, I do agree that it takes a lot of courage to develop your boundaries.
A lot of us are taught from childhood to bend and mould ourselves to make others comfortable, and that has made us feel difficult when setting proper boundaries as we age. Yet, I have learnt that the more we want to avoid offending or hurting others, the more we pull ourselves into the process.
If you are tired of putting others’ feelings ahead of your needs or feeling the stress of needing to be friendly, maybe it’s time to evaluate the boundaries you set.
So, what are personal boundaries?
Personal boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves in our relationships with others, and actually, with ourselves as well.
Let’s talk about our boundaries with others. They determine how we allow other people to behave towards us and react when those boundaries are crossed.
To me, my boundaries reflect my self-respect and the standard I have set for my life.
However, I want to remind you that just because you have placed your boundaries and someone has crossed them doesn’t mean they have done you wrong. And, of course, just because you have your boundaries doesn’t mean you have any rights to control others.
So I was reading this book “We Should All Be Millionaires” by Rachel Rodgers, and in it she says:
“Boundaries are not about saying NO to others, but about saying YES to yourself.”
This is brilliant. It means that your boundaries are about giving the YES to yourself to accept or not accept the actions someone takes and permitting yourself to say NO in a respectful way.
However, from my experiences, in many circumstances, I don’t even have to say no; I have to explain why I couldn’t do what is asked or walk away from the situation.
Trust me. No one would feel offended because you say no. In any event, if they need you, they will learn to respect your boundaries and accommodate that and come back to you again.
So why is it essential to set boundaries?
Because people may cross your boundaries intentionally or unintentionally, some people are simply inconsiderate, but some people have no idea they have crossed your boundaries.
Either case, if you don’t set your boundaries clear and just let people cross them, you would feel like your life is depleted and exploited.
And You would likely feel hurt, resentful, or taken advantage of, and worse, you may even feel unworthy, and that feeling can affect how you think about yourself and how you show up.
Any healthy relationship requires boundaries of the individuals involved and for the relationship itself. When we communicate our boundaries with others, we show respect to the relationship, as we’re willing to put effort into ensuring it remains strong and safe.
More important, because they see that you are outspoken enough to protect your boundaries, they will know that they can also be true to you about their boundaries, which of course, you should respect. And these are the healthy and respectful relationships you want in your life.
On the other hand, if the other person knows in advance that your boundaries are too rigid for them to accept, they can re-evaluate if they should stay in that relationship.
It can get tricky, in the beginning, to see a relationship ends because of this, but I believe it is better like this for the long term.
Now, let’s talk about the 5 Ways that can help you Set and Maintain Good Boundaries.
I. Be aware of your comfort level
Without knowing your breaking point, you can’t know where to draw the line. So take notes on the things that make you jump out of your skin. One example is humour. Does it hurt when someone jokes about your appearance? Maybe the person in question does not judge you by such and only makes such jokes to make you laugh.
However, it makes you feel uncomfortable, and if I were you, I would tell them in the face, “it is not funny, friend,” and move on to the next topic.
II. Introduce boundaries gradually to your relationships
The truth is that it is always easier and more effective to set boundaries at the beginning because when the relationship is already established, setting boundaries can be challenging because you may worry the other people will say you have changed blah blah blah. However, they should know that this is a good change.
A dramatic shift in how you approach your relationship may be odd; in fact, so may I suggest introducing more boundaries gradually to your relationship if you haven’t already. That way, you can move at a more comfortable pace and reflect on whether things are heading in the right direction or if changes need to be made. To do this, you can start by reflecting on yourself and checking what makes you uncomfortable, and then set clear boundaries and expectations with others.
For example, you find it annoying when your colleagues talk to you when you are focused on your work. So next time when that happens, you can tell your colleagues politely that you are working and do not want to be disturbed. This is not about saying NO or being confrontational. It is only about communicating your expectations of others.
III. Communicate your boundaries clearly
You may find it helpful to prepare scripts and practice in front of the mirror.
Consider situations when you were challenged. For instance, why did you not call someone out for something that hurt or offended you? Do you feel confident in establishing these boundaries and communicating them?
It is entirely okay if you are not as confident as some might be, but you need to learn to communicate with them, even if your mouth or legs are shaking when you say it because at least you have stood up for yourself.
If the person in question is someone you know, realise that it is always better to let them know about what they say or do that bothers you. If they are sincere, they will understand and respect you for it.
IV. Accept that you may disappoint others
Setting your boundaries may require you to disappoint others.
Sometimes people don’t like or are uncomfortable with your boundaries, but it is not your job to make everyone happy or comfortable. People are responsible for their feelings just as you are responsible for your feelings. Therefore, it is your job to protect your boundaries.
V. Learn to cut off
Often, we do not set boundaries simply because we are afraid of isolation.
But, if someone is not willing to respect your boundaries or brushes them off as unimportant, it’s time to evaluate if that relationship is good for your mental health.
If you have communicated your expectation with that person and if they have the slightest bit of concern for you, they will communicate with you and learn to accommodate, and of course, you should do the same for them.
If not, it is time to ask yourself if they are worth your company. It might sound harsh, but do you want to sacrifice your sense of well-being, or even growth, for this kind of relationship? I have learnt to love people for who they are but not to get involved with them.
Btw, setting your boundaries is also about being consistent with your actions. For example, if you don’t expect to be disturbed when you’re busy working, you shouldn’t bother people when they are busy working.
One more reminder, setting your boundaries is not only about telling people your expectation of them; it is also about self-exploration and growth.
Sometimes, if we dig deeper, we know that the discomfort from feeling like our boundaries are crossed stems from something that hurt us in the past, and maybe that has nothing to do with the other person in question.
Well, that root cause is something you need to look into. Fix your own wound before expecting others to accommodate your needs. And that leads to our next point on setting boundaries with yourself.
Setting personal boundaries is not only about your relationships with others but also those with yourself. I may call it “self-discipline”. It is about monitoring your behaviour and creating a healthy structure for your life. Remember, everything begins with us.
Examples of boundaries with yourself include ensuring you have enough rest.
This might not be the profound advice you seek, but it is essential for your physical, mental, and emotional health.
How you manage your working hours is also another example. I don’t answer work emails on the weekends, so give those time to myself and my loved ones.
It is one of those boundaries I am setting with my workaholic self as well. The hardest part for me is to stop thinking about them once I leave the office to give myself that mental space, but I am getting there now, and I feel much more mentally healthier.
Another boundary I have set with myself is not to bring or use any screen in my bedroom. I believe you associate your environments with feelings, and the sole purpose of my bedroom is for me to relax and rest, so no more stress from my desire to consume more information.
I hope you agree that when working on setting boundaries with others, you should start with yourself. Because if you don’t respect your boundaries, how can you expect others to respect them?