This has been a focus of mine during my journey of self-discovery, establishing healthy boundaries with myself and with others in my life. That goes for family, friends, co-workers and lovers. Without boundaries, we allow and accept whatever treatment we receive from others and ourselves whether we like it or not. There have been plenty of times where I’ve had people in my life that mistreated and disrespected me, but never confronted them about it, because I didn’t have the courage to AND I didn’t know what my boundaries were.
As I’ve been spending time to get to know myself, I’ve been focusing on developing healthy boundaries, and here’s how:
- Understanding what boundaries are. Boundaries are areas of physical, emotional and intellectual space between you and another person. They are the lines that help you decide what types of communication, interaction and behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable for you.
- If you don’t have any boundaries or aren’t enforcing them, why? Think about what’s keeping you back from expressing what you want, need, like, dislike and what you find acceptable and unacceptable. For me, it was the fear of abandonment and confrontation. More often times than not, we do not set and enforce boundaries, because we are afraid of being rejected, abandoned and disagreement. We also don’t have boundaries, because we simply weren’t taught them.
- Get clear on what’s important to you and how you want to be treated and why. This is the step that I’m on. I noticed that communication is important to me, because it builds trust and is a symbol of respect. Not only during disputes, but also when it comes to hanging out with a person.
- Identify the parameters of your boundaries why. In my last article, I talked about how I set a boundary with my friend when it comes to communicating when we have plans with each other. My boundary was to let me know in advance if you are unable to or decide to no longer go instead of informing me at the last minute, because it’s disappointing and disrespectful to cancel a commitment with late notice.
- Respectfully and firmly communicate your boundaries with others and let them know when they violate them. Please don’t curse people out.
- Activate the consequences immediately when a boundary is violated. Remember to act with integrity. When you do not enforce your boundaries, people will continue to violate them, which causes anger, resentment and disappointment. DON’T wait until the second or third violation occurs. Enforce it the first time.
- If the violations of boundaries continue, be willing to let go of the relationship. It’s an unfortunate thing to happen, but some people cannot, will not and do not honor people’s boundaries. And, if that’s something that’s going to keep causing you heartache and distress then the best thing to do is to let them go.
- Be able to uphold your boundaries. If you can’t practice those boundaries yourself, such as being on time, you can’t expect the other person to.
- Be aware if your boundaries are practical and if they’re fulfilling your purpose of having them. Only through experience you’ll figure out if the boundaries you set are keeping you physically, mentally and emotionally safe. If they’re not, be willing to release them and establish some new ones that are a better fit. Remember, boundaries are meant for safety and self-preservation NOT to control others, so it’s important to know the distinction between the two and your motives.
Setting boundaries is a huge step in practicing self-love and self-care, building self-confidence, self-worth and empowerment. It can be scary at first if you’re not used to establishing them and you may even feel guilty or selfish, but be patient and kind to yourself and unapologetic about your boundaries. You more than likely will ruffle some people’s feathers, but you’re not in charge of their reaction. Remember, you matter and deserve to be respected and honored!