Boundaries are fundamental when it comes to taking care of ourselves. They enable us to recognise what we need and develop the right techniques and language to achieve them. Good boundaries help us create less stressful lives, better physical wellbeing and healthy respectful relationships. For some people, learning to set boundaries is a skill they learnt growing up. They have seen adults articulate and set boundaries and understand they are a necessity. They have the right level of self-awareness to understand their needs and articulate them. For others, including myself, setting and reinforcing boundaries is a work in progress.
However, like a lot of self-care strategies, setting and reinforcing boundaries is a muscle that grows over time. The more we do it, the easier it gets.
7 steps to help you set boundaries
- Understand your value. Someone or a situation that continually oversteps the mark has a massive impact on your self-esteem. Likewise, continually putting yourself at the bottom of a priority list is not healthy either. Everyone has the right to be treated properly and we need to believe we deserve better.
- You cannot change other people’s behaviour, only your own. Setting boundaries won’t change how people behave towards you. It gives you the tools to respond and to reflect on where you want to see changes. However, it’s not your fault if your boundaries aren’t respected.
- Think about situations where you want to set boundaries. What do you want to change? What is your response when this situation comes up? Decide the consequences ahead of time.
- Communicate. Be decisive and remember your worth.
- Prepare for your boundaries to be overstepped. Having boundaries in place won’t stop people from overstepping them. Prepare for it to happen and decide in advance how you will respond.
- Remember boundary setting is a muscle we grow. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t go right the first time or the second. You will get better at it and learn new responses as you go along.
- Leave a situation. Unfortunately, if your boundaries aren’t respected, then the only way sometimes is to leave a situation or a person. We cannot change other people. We can leave though knowing we deserve better.