Setting Boundaries

set personal boundaries

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Protecting yourself and your well being is incredibly important, knowing what you are and are not comfortable with, coupled with what you will and will not accept — is the best way to do this.  If you do not look out for you — nobody else will.  People will take, as much as you allow them to so back up your boundary with action. If you give in, you invite people to ignore your need.  All these points can be summarized as the creation of Personal Boundaries.

“Personal Boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.”Essential Life Skills

We all have that friend who calls and talks and talks and talks.  You don’t have time for a marathon conversation, but you reluctantly answer the phone because it is a friend.  This is a classic example of someone unintentionally taking, and you allowing it to happen.  This is the perfect situation in which a boundary for your friend would be useful.  You could either let them know you only have xyz amount of time for a call at the moment, or suggest that although you love the talks, the length can throw off the rest of your day, and perhaps the calls would be better served in the evening — or on certain days.

Personal Boundaries can be that simple, or a little more complex.  The bottom line is they are an essential tool to be used to help you improve the quality of your relationships and your life!

Serenity Online shared these tips for setting healthy boundaries….

Here are some tips for setting healthy boundaries, modified from the book, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, by Anne Katherine:

  • When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, preferably without anger, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify, apologize for, or rationalize the boundary you are setting. Do not argue! Just set the boundary calmly, firmly, clearly, and respectfully.
  • You can’t set a boundary and take care of someone else’s feelings at the same time. You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for communicating the boundary in a respectful manner. If others get upset with you, that is their problem. If they no longer want your friendship, then you are probably better off without them. You do not need “friends” who disrespect your boundaries.
  • At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty, or embarrassed when you set a boundary. Do it anyway, and tell yourself you have a right to take care of yourself. Setting boundaries takes practice and determination. Don’t let anxiety or low self-esteem prevent you from taking care of yourself.
  • When you feel anger or resentment, or find yourself whining or complaining, you probably need to set a boundary. Listen to yourself, then determine what you need to do or say. Then communicate your boundary assertively. When you are confident you can set healthy boundaries with others, you will have less need to put up walls.
  • When you set boundaries, you might be tested, especially by those accustomed to controlling you, abusing you, or manipulating you. Plan on it, expect it, but be firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You can not establish a clear boundary successfully if you send a mixed message by apologizing for doing so. Be firm, clear, and respectful.
  • Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. You will set boundaries when you are ready. It’s your growth in your own time frame, not what someone else tells you. Let your counselor or support group help you with pace and process.
  • Setting healthy boundaries allows your true self to emerge – and what an exciting journey that is.

Another great article with a thorough and detailed process for creating personal boundaries can be found on LifeHack’s blog as well as Essential Life Skills.