Setting boundaries is a healthy and essential practice for the many interpersonal relationships in your life. Boundaries should be established in various relationships including romantic, platonic, familial, and professional relationships. A boundary can be defined as the limits and rules you create for yourself that determine what is acceptable for you and what you are comfortable with.
Boundary setting includes being self-aware of your values, honoring yourself, and having assertive communication skills. A common misconception is that boundaries are for other people. In reality, boundaries are for yourself. We cannot control the actions of others. Ultimately, you are in charge of whether or not you uphold the boundaries that you set. Here are 4 tips to be mindful of when you are trying to establish and maintain healthy boundaries.
1) Reflect on Your Values and Priorities
To set boundaries, you must first become self-aware of what your values and priorities are in life. Understanding what is important to you, will allow you to identify your boundaries. Different relationships will need different types of boundaries. For example: If you value spending quality time with your family, you may set firm boundaries regarding work and personal life balance.
Listen to your inner voice and pay attention to what your body is telling you. Paying attention to your emotions, physical responses, and what thoughts are crossing your mind can help you become aware of how you desire to be treated or what you wish to prioritize. This will allow you to have a more clear understanding of what boundaries need to be set.
2) Use Assertive Communication
Assertive communication can be defined as a communication style where you express your needs and wants while taking into consideration the needs and wants of others. This style of communication is the compromise between aggressive and passive communication. To communicate assertively you want to:
- maintain eye contact
- have confident body language
- use concise language to express your thoughts
- maintain a steady pace of speech and tone
- listen without interrupting
- express your needs, wants, and opinions clearly
- engage in self-soothing practices if necessary to ensure calm and clear communication
3) Plan When Possible
If you know that you will be faced with conflict or a difficult conversation, you can begin to plan and identify what boundary must be set. Once you are aware of what boundaries you wish to set, practice how you will clearly and concisely communicate the boundary. Boundaries can sound like this:
-” I appreciate your input, but ultimately this is my decision.”
-“Thank you for the invitation but I will not be able to attend due to having other plans scheduled.”
-“I do not wish to talk about this any further at this time.”
-“I enjoy spending time with you, but I also enjoy time by myself to recharge.”
-“I am not okay with you making jokes at my expense.”
-“I understand that you are angry, but I will not tolerate being spoken to in that way.”
-“I am unable to stay at work late this evening due to a prior engagement. However, I can compromise and work late tomorrow evening to ensure this project gets completed.”
You do not have to explain.
“No” itself is a clear and firm boundary.
4) Be Consistent
When setting boundaries, it is important to understand that you may face some pushback from others in your life if you have struggled with setting healthy boundaries in the past. Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries will take practice. It is important to remain consistent with your boundaries once you have set them. Hold firm and remember your “why”. Self-awareness and understanding why you have chosen to set the boundaries that you have set can serve as motivation when you are struggling with maintaining the boundaries. Unfortunately, some people will choose to disrespect your boundaries no matter how hard you try. If someone continues to disrespect your boundaries repeatedly, you must choose between disengaging or accepting it. The choice in upholding your boundaries comes down to you.
Setting boundaries and maintaining them is an act of self-care and self-love. Maintaining healthy boundaries can reduce the likelihood of burnout, improve interpersonal relationships, foster independence, improve self-esteem, and provide a sense of emotional safety and mental well-being. Boundary setting can certainly be challenging. Be kind to yourself as you explore healthy boundary setting, be consistent, and be assertive with communicating your boundaries. Your needs, values, and feelings are valid. If you have identified that you need to have a conversation with someone in your life regarding your boundaries but don’t know where to start, check out our blog “How to Initiate Difficult Conversations” for tips on navigating difficult conversations.
Do you need help finding balance in your life and setting healthy boundaries? Our counselors at Natural Balance Counseling are ready to walk alongside you, provide support, and educate you on ways to establish and maintain healthy boundaries in your life. Reach out to us today to schedule a free 10 to 15-minute consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org!