Setting healthy boundaries

Do you find it difficult to stand up for yourself? Do you often say YES when you actually prefer to say NO ending up doing things you really don't want to do, just to please someone else? Would you feel bad and guilty if you would say NO? Do you fear conflict or critizism, when you speak your mind and so you don't?

Do you fear not to be liked anymore, when you express opinions?

Do you tolerate unkind and disrespectful behavior from others, that hurts, but you won't mention it and smile instead?

For many people, it is difficult to set their own personal boundaries or saying no to others. Instead they try to please others at all costs. They work till they drop, do favours in all directions, allow others to manipulate them into doing things and end up burnt out, feeling stressed, drained, unhappy, overwhelmed and anxious. Self esteem and self respect are just empty words. In the long run it can have devastating consequences for ones personal physical and mental health.

Boundaries are not only the space between you and other people. They are also needed, if you want to develop a healthy relationship with yourself. When you regularly trespass your own boundaries, you prove to yourself, it's not worthy to listen to you and it's ok to treat you with disrespect. Others will pick up on that. Healthy boundaries are a sign of love and respect towards your personal strengths, abilities, quirks and uniqueness as well as those of others. They protect your sense of self, they strengthen your self esteem and confidence. It is not about becoming rigid and controlling. It is a fine balancing act between giving and taking, mutual understanding and support.

You are not a people pleaser nor a victim of circumstances. So begin to build your healthy boundaries today, because you're worth it.

1. Give yourself permission to recognize your boundaries, to set them your way and to strengthen them. Your personal boundaries protect and define you. They are part of your identity. When you are aware of what you allow and don't allow you begin to take responsibility for your life and actions, generating your own self worth from within instead of allowing others to define you.

2. Reflect about your own needs. Identify your values, become aware of your feelings and rights. Realize that nobody has more or less rights than you have. Other people's needs and feelings are important too, but not more important than yours. We all have an internal and external private space that deserves protection. Don't allow others to intrude without your permission and manipulate that space. Find out, what you are ok with and what just doesn't feel comfortable.

3. Browse through memories and remember times, where you somehow felt discomfort or even resentment and investigate, what exactly happened that made you feel that way without blaming someone, nor feeling guilty yourself. You might find an inner boundary that you or someone else overlooked in the past.

4. Explore your own limiting beliefs that may underlying your behavior.

What happens, if I say no? What am I really afraid of? What am I really thinking?

Am I not feeling good enough? Not smart or pretty enough? Am I thinking I am not loveable the way I am?

5. Challenge your negative thoughts. Find out, if they are really true. Do you have evidence for them? Do you have evidence for the opposite thought? Explore times, when you felt really good about yourself. Can you detect qualities about yourself? Why not making a list.

You might tend to generalize or distort your view and ignore successes. Be specific instead. Mistakes or weaknesses are not THE definition of who you are as a person. You are colorful and diverse. Embrace that.

You cannot change other people and you cannot take the responsibility of the way they respond to certain things. They have their own boundaries (or not), their own values, issues, dreams. So it is on you to change. Let them know, when they cross your line. Do it respectfully as for it is something you want for yourself as well. Be kind, clear and calm. There is no need to be rude or harsh about it. Your boundaries are about you and your needs. Neither you or other people are mind readers, so it is on you to communicate.

You might be surprised to find out, how many people are not aware of having crossed a line. They will respect, what you have to tell them and adapt. Change one element in the system and the system will change. Others might react disappointed or angry. It is their right to do so, but it is on you to decide, how to react to that.

At first, you might feel rude, selfish, guilty, maybe embarrassed when you communicate a boundary. Do it anyway, knowing you have the right to take care of yourself. Only when you honor yourself and take care of things that are important to you first, you will be able to give fully to others, without feeling drained. It will come from the heart and a place of genuine love.

Be compassionate, patient and kind to yourself. Take time for things you like, relax and treat yourself with love and care. It will reflect on the outside world in one way or another.

You will still encounter people testing your limits over and over again. Remember, you are not the one judging nor deciding about their behavior. It's their responsibility only. But you can decide to allow it to drain you emotionally or to stand up for yourself.

Stay true to yourself, trust and believe in yourself. You are the expert of your life. You know best what you need, want and value. Honor your mental and physical well being.

Accept setting boundaries as being a process. You learn, you grow, you experience. Start small. Begin with something that doesn't evoke too much fear in you. Test it out, playfully and always respectfully, but clear. No judgements, no blame games, no guilt, no anger. And once you can experience, that it wasn't all that threatening, it will become easier to hold on to your boundaries till it becomes second nature to you.

Your confidence will grow naturally and relationships that are really important and healthy will improve.

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