Can you remember a time when you tried setting a boundary with someone and they completely disregarded it? Many of us may have experienced this at one point or another. Setting boundaries can be difficult, however, it is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. I’m going to outline the importance of setting boundaries, and steps you can take to implement boundaries in your own life today.
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The Importance of Boundaries
A boundary is like an invisible line for which we mark just how much we are responsible for. Boundaries appear in all areas of our lives, whether it be creating boundaries with family, friends, coworkers, and ourselves. Boundaries help us separate our feelings, needs, responsibilities, and physical space from one another. It is important to set healthy boundaries with yourself and others. With this being said, setting boundaries can be difficult to do, especially if you need to establish boundaries with someone who doesn’t understand why. However, it is not impossible to do, but it will require more work upfront.
How to Set Boundaries
In an ideal world, we would form boundaries and others would accept them right away. However, this is often not the case. Many people who notice we are setting boundaries will often respond to them in a poor way, because they may feel they are being pushed away. It's important to recognize they have never created any boundaries themselves, therefore they do not understand the need for them. Not only should we form boundaries with people who we have difficult relationships with, but we should also ensure our boundaries are established with those we have a healthy relationship with. These 4 tips have really helped me establish boundaries in my own life, and I hope they do the same for you.
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Identify the Issue
Before forming a boundary with someone, think to yourself, “What is bothering me?” Is it how someone is treating you, or how they are not respectful of your time? Whatever the conflict may be, first establish this yourself. Then, you will be able to determine which type of boundaries you will need to set with that person or group of people in your life.
Outline the Boundary
Once you have identified what is bothering you, you will be able to then create the boundary needed with the other person. When establishing the boundary, remember to keep the focus on yourself. For example, if your friend isn’t understanding of your time, don’t say “ You need to stop asking me to hangout all of the time,” instead say “ I will need time after work to focus on myself. You could even put a time to this, such as saying between the hours of 5-7pm I am unable to hangout with you, but anytime around that I can schedule plans with you.” When establishing boundaries, be sure to explicitly state why these boundaries are important to you. For example, in the above situation you are blocking that time off everyday to spend with yourself and to take care of your own well-being. This will allow the other person to get a better understanding of why they need to respect your boundaries.
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How to Move Forward
After setting boundaries, it can feel really great since you have finally established what you have felt for a while. Often, we realize we need to set a boundary with someone after we have been dealing with the situation at hand for far too long. We may respond to another person in anger, and attempt to form a boundary this way.
When moving forward, try your best to identify conflicts which arise early in relationships. By doing this, you will understand where you need to draw the line in a relationship and establish a boundary with the other person in a healthy way. With each boundary we form in our lives, we are taking a risk in order to gain control over our lives.
What if Boundaries are Overstepped?
Once you have identified your boundaries and established them with another person, things may not always go to plan. Sometimes, the other person will respect your boundaries, and other times they will not initially. For those situations where they do not respect your boundaries, it can be really tough. First ask yourself .” Have I truly been sticking to my boundaries even when things get hard?” If the answer is no, go revisit them. After this, go to the person and state exactly how you feel, and let them know they have been violating your boundaries if it continues. Re-explain to them why you are creating these boundaries, and that they are important to you. Whether that person chooses to respect them or not after that is ultimately up to them. Regardless, stay consistent to your boundaries. If the other person is willing to change their behavior to respect your boundaries, you both can work through a plan of how you will achieve this together.
All in all, setting boundaries is one of the best acts of self-care you could possibly do! They will benefit you so much in the future, and allow you to take back control of your life. Your future self will thank you for it.