How to Set Healthy Boundaries
Relationships can only be healthy when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their interdependence rather than codependence or complete independence. Often people find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s. These people most likely grew up in households where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries.
If you can relate, chances are you have a hard time creating healthy boundaries with others in your life and/or relationships. Here are some ways you can begin to create boundaries that work for you.
Identify Your Limits
Know your limits regarding your time, space as well as what is acceptable to you and what isn’t. You might need to take a bit of time to recognize what you can and cannot tolerate in your life. What makes you happy and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Notice how you feel after being with certain people or events to tune into how you feel, then you’ll have a greater sense of your personal limits.
Don’t Be Shy
People who have similar communication styles are easy to engage with and understand. These people will quickly get what your new boundaries are. But people who have a different cultural background or personality may not easily understand your boundaries or limits. With these people, it’s important to be very clear and direct about your needs, wants or desires.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
People who have a hard time setting boundaries don’t often allow themselves to acknowledge their own feelings because they’re usually too busy worrying about everyone else’s.
You’ll need to start recognizing how people make YOU feel in order to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. When you’re with someone, make mental notes, or even jot down in a journal how that interaction made you feel. This will help you gain more insight into your own feelings and how you feel with other people. Sometimes it takes space to really know how we feel about another.
If, after spending time with someone, you feel anger or resentment, this is a sign that the person may be overstepping your boundaries. Reiterate to this person what your boundaries are. If they continue to disrespect you and them, you will want to limit further interactions.
Make Self-Care a Priority
Put yourself and your needs first. This may feel strange and even somehow wrong if you’ve spent your entire life taking care of others. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and get what you need to feel happy and well. Also, remember it’s ok to say NO to other’s demand for your time or attention.
Speak with Someone
If you’ve spent an entire life with a sense of low self-worth, you may find setting boundaries quite difficult. It’s important to discover where these feelings are coming from and how to change your thought patterns and behavior so you can feel happier and live a healthier life that works for you.
If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to help you on your journey toward self-care.