Do you struggle setting boundaries in your relationship? Well, you’re not alone! In fact many people do struggle with setting boundaries and feel guilty about it. The thing is that boundaries are crucial and the foundation of healthy relationships and helps couple create a strong sense of self-worth. According to mental health professionals and self-help gurus
Boundaries Serve Two Main Functions:
- Boundaries tell others how you want to be treated (what’s okay and what’s not okay). Boundaries protect you from being mistreated.
- Boundaries create a healthy separation (physical and emotional) between you and others. Boundaries allow you to have your own personal space and privacy, your own feelings, thoughts, needs, and ideas. They allow you to be yourself rather than an extension of someone else or who someone else wants you to be.
Why Do Some People Have Problems Setting Boundaries?
For some setting boundaries can seem really difficult perhaps they didn’t grow up with clear and consistent boundaries or expectations (this often happens in enmeshed, alcoholic, or otherwise dysfunctional families), they probably don’t come naturally to them. They may feel guilty or unjustified in asking for what they want or need.
However, they can untwist their negative beliefs about boundaries and learn to set them without feeling guilty.
These five tips can help you get started.
5 Tips For Setting Boundaries:
- Be clear about what you want – When setting a boundary, you need to be really specific about what you want and why it is important to you. This helps you to communicate your needs clearly and stay the firm when it gets tough. Make sure when preparing to set a difficult boundary, it maybe helpful to write down exactly what you want and why.
- Be direct and don’t apologize for your needs – When communicating your boundaries, to others you may find it most effective to be direct and clear. If you couch your boundary in excessive explanations, justifications, or apologies, you water down your message. Keep it simple and remember you are well within your right to ask for what you want/need – you don’t need to justify it with a “good” reason.
- Expect resistance and don’t let it deter you – When you start setting boundaries, some people will respond poorly. This is common – they’re usually the people who have been benefiting from your lack of boundaries, so they don’t want you to change. Some people may just need time to adjust to your new behavior. While others will use anger to try to manipulate and coerce you away from setting boundaries. Stand your ground! You aren’t responsible for how others react to your boundaries. You don’t have to make them feel better or take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. You are only responsible for your own feelings and actions.
- Setting boundaries is an on-going process – If you’re a parent, you know that you have to repeatedly set rules (a form of boundaries) and tell your kids what you expect from them. Setting boundaries with adults is the same. We need to continuously set boundaries; we can’t just set a boundary and be done with it. You may need to set the same boundary repeatedly with the same person. And as your needs change, you’ll need to set different boundaries.
- Boundaries are for your own wellbeing, not to control others – Boundaries should never be an attempt to control or punish others. They’re actually a form of self-care – something you do for your own wellbeing (although others benefit as well). Boundaries protect you from being taken advantage of, overcommitting, overworking, feeling overwhelmed, and physical and emotional abuse or harm. Of course, we all want people to respect our boundaries, but we have to accept that we can’t make them. We should set boundaries as a statement of who we are and what we need. Your boundaries say, “I matter. My feelings matter. My ideas matter. My health matters. My dreams matter. My needs matter.” And if others won’t treat you well, you have options. You can emotionally detach, physically distance yourself. or end the relationship. Boundaries are about doing what’s right for you, not about forcing others to do what you want.