Boundaries are important to building and maintaining healthy relationships, whether that be with yourself or others. A healthy set of boundaries shows maturity and self respect. I have found with some of my clients that establishing boundaries helps improve their feelings of self worth. Here is a 6-step process for establishing and maintaining boundaries.
You can’t set healthy boundaries if you don’t know where you are right now. You need to identify where your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits are. Ask yourself what you can tolerate and what you can accept. But more importantly what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Understanding where these limits lie helps you identify what boundaries you want to set.
Tune into how you feel in particular situations. If a situation causes you to feel uncomfortable or stressed ask why that is and what about this situation is making you feel this way. Understanding your feelings helps to identify the boundaries you want. When someone makes you feel uncomfortable in a particular situation this is an indicator that they may be crossing a boundary. Take a look at your current relationships. Is there a healthy give and take or are they one sided and unhealthy? Sometimes the environments you are in are also unhealthy and maintaining boundaries in unhealthy situations makes it harder. Being aware of these will help you decide where you want your boundaries to lie.
When you are establishing new boundaries you need to be direct. If you are not communicating what you want effectively or not explaining it well enough you are potentially causing yourself issues down the road. If someone doesn’t clearly understand where your boundaries are you are setting yourself up for a situation where they can cross them without realising it.
Another issue that can arise when establishing new boundaries is not following through if someone doesn’t respect them. If you set a new boundary but don’t actively work to maintain it, you will struggle to keep them for very long. You need to be assertive when establishing new boundaries and also assertive when following through if they are not respected. If people don’t respect your boundaries bring it up, be assertive and explain to them that it isn’t okay. Follow through with the action. If someone crosses a boundaries and you agreed that you would stop talking to them, do it. Without this assertiveness your boundaries will fall through. If you aren’t willing to follow through ask yourself why. Awareness precedes change. Only by understanding why can you begin to change.
Many people struggle to establish healthy boundaries because of fear, guilt or self doubt. Often it comes down to fears about what others will think, or whether they will still like you. If you begin setting healthy boundaries and people are not respecting them, then the question is do you really want them to be in your life? People who respect you will appreciate you setting boundaries and work to not cross them. When one of my clients started establishing boundaries in his relationship, he found that his partner respected him more and 1 month later they had a better relationship. The right people will respect your boundaries and respect your self worth.
If you struggle with boundaries get support from your friends and family you trust to help you establish them. Consider going and seeing a professional to help you work through the reasons why you struggle.
Boundaries are a skill and if you have never really had them throughout your life you will struggle initially. To overcome this start small, with boundaries that aren’t super important and challenging to maintain. The more you build the skill of setting and maintaining boundaries the better you will get at it. Through consistent practice this is a skill you can easily master.
This article is originally published here