Setting Personal Boundaries – 5 Ways to Build Strong and Supportive Relationships
“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.” ~ Brené Brown
Have you ever been in a relationship where you’re the one who does all the giving while the other one does all the taking? It can make you feel like you’re ready to explode, right? Perhaps you have a boss, coworker, “friend”, or family member who always leaves you feeling drained, exhausted and tense every time you’re around them.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. You do have the power to change it. And it doesn’t involve avoiding them. You do it by clearly defining and setting personal boundaries.
When you’re uncertain of your own boundaries or you don’t clearly communicate them, you’ll cave in and say “yes” to things that make you unhappy and uncomfortable. It can even make you take on everyone else’s “stuff” to the point you don’t know who you are any more.
If you’re not used to setting personal boundaries, it can be difficult at first. It requires honesty and integrity to gain the clarity of who you are and what you need. Then little by little this self-knowledge will give you the inner strength to tell people, with conviction, respect and tact, what you need from your relationship with them.
Setting personal boundaries is a life long process. Here are five ways to accelerate that process…
- Give yourself permission to set personal boundaries. You have a right to your feelings and you need to honor your present preferences and limitations. It’s okay to say, “No”. You owe it to others to be honest with them, because a relationship built on self-deception can’t be sustained. Don’t take everything upon your own shoulders or let in baggage that isn’t yours. Remember that when you set a limit with others, the way they react or respond is information about them, not you.
- Build personal boundaries based on how you truly feel. Discomfort and resentment are two emotions that signal that your boundaries are being trampled on. Identify exactly how your boundaries are being crossed. Consider whether it’s the overall experience that you resent, or whether it’s how something was phrased or presented. Reframe negativity into a positive perspective.
- Be specific about your boundary limits. Where do you draw the line in the sand? What are your values, preferences, and needs – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually? Remember that having identified these once long ago isn’t going to serve you now. You’ll want to revisit this often, since you change and update as you grow and gain more insight or information.
- Practice mindful self-awareness so your personal boundaries really support you. Most people set boundaries out of frustration because they are “fed up” with a situation or a behavior instead of basing their boundaries on their own preferences, needs or values. It’s important to decide on our personal boundaries during meditation or introspection time not in a time of crisis. When you’re firmly grounded and centered, you’ll have self-confidence and won’t be plagued with guilt.
- Communicate your personal boundaries clearly. People don’t know your boundaries unless you tell them. You can’t expect them to be mind readers or to intuitively know what you need. In a respectful manner, share your limits with others often so they know where they stand with you. They’ll respect you more and like you better for it.
Setting personal boundaries takes strength and courage. But in the long run, you’ll be happier and the people in your life will respect and appreciate you more. If you could use help setting boundaries why not schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation with me so we can explore your options? I’m happy to meet in-person, by phone or via Skype.