Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Creating clear boundaries allows us to protect ourselves and feel respected both physically and emotionally, therefore it is important to set and maintain them. In fact, asserting our limits allows us to prioritise self respect rather than the opinions of other people - this can be a very freeing thing to do. Setting boundaries can be a challenging and intimidating task, but it does not have to be. So, how do we gently ensure healthy boundaries in a way that makes our loved ones understand us better?
Tune in with yourself and establish your limits
Take cues when your body is telling you that it feels uncomfortable and has reached its limits. Perhaps you have begun to feel anxious or maybe your mood has changed. Take some time to explore this discomfort:
"What is making me feel this way?"
"What don't I like about this situation?"
"At what moment did I begin to feel discomfort?"
Use this knowledge to satisfy your own needs. Often we don't want to upset our loved ones by saying no when we have reached our limits. The key is to ensure that when you say yes to someone else that you are not saying no to yourself. This will have a positive impact on your relationships as they will understand your limits and you will not feel resentment for doing something you do not want to do.
Practise saying no when someone has violated your boundaries. You do not have to justify your reasonings, although you can if you want to. By simply saying "no, thank you" they will begin to create a deeper understanding of what you are willing to do.
For example, your boss asks you to work an extra shift. Do you feel pressured to say yes, despite the fact you need a day off to relax?
"Sorry, I can't, I need a day off" will reinforce your boundaries and they may begin to realise they have generally been asking too much of you.
Boundaries are flexible
Remember, your boundaries are YOURS and they may change over time depending on how you feel. They may be different for different people, and that is okay. However, if you struggle to maintain boundaries that affect your safety it is important to seek support.
Create consequences when someone breaks your boundaries
Having boundaries is fundamental for your happiness. If someone is not willing to work alongside these measures you have created, ask yourself, what is the consequence? If someone is continuously disrespecting you, they need to be aware of what this will entail. Will you distance yourself from this person? Take a step back from working alongside this person? Find support, standby your boundaries and don't make too many allowances. You wouldn't have made them if they weren't important to you!
Finally, it is important to remember to be mindful of other people's boundaries. How can you ensure they are comfortable? Remember, if you are unsure of someone's limits you can always ask them.