Do you struggle to say no or feel guilty when you set boundaries? Do you find yourself constantly trying to please others, leading to feelings of stress and burnout? If so, setting healthy boundaries can be an essential aspect of self-care and personal growth. Here's how to do it without feeling guilty.
If this sounds like you, keep reading.
For many people, it is difficult to set their own personal boundaries or say no to others. Instead, they try to please others at all costs. They work till they drop, do favors in all directions, allow others to manipulate them into doing things, and end up burnt out, feeling stressed, drained, unhappy, overwhelmed, and anxious. Setting healthy boundaries is an essential aspect of self-care and personal growth. However, many people struggle with setting boundaries due to feelings of guilt. In this video, we'll explore how to set healthy boundaries without feeling guilty.
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 that it's ok to treat you with disrespect. Others will pick up on that. Healthy boundaries are a sign of love and respect toward 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.
Begin to build your healthy boundaries today, because you're worth it.
Identify your needs and values
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. That is why the first step in setting healthy boundaries is to understand what YOU need and value. This means taking time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Ask yourself questions like: What do I need to feel fulfilled? What do I value most in my relationships? What makes me feel drained or stressed? Nobody has more or fewer rights than you have. Other people's needs and feelings are important too, but not more important than yours. We all have 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. Understanding your needs and values will help you to set boundaries that align with your priorities.
Further exploration of self
Even though you might find out more about your values and needs you still might feel blocked from actually setting a boundary. This can have a long personal history of experiences, education, and boundary violations from early childhood.
Did you know, that on average, we will receive up to 150.000 negative suggestions by the age of 18 years young?
" You are not good enough."
"Why couldn't you do better than this?"
"Your brother/sister is better than you."
"You will never make it."
"Are you stupid or what?"
Those statements do not necessarily pass us by without any hurt or consequences. When we grow up with so much negativity, devaluation, and diminishment, yes, sometimes just a stupid joke, and yes, sometimes not intended to hurt, it can stay with us for years.
Therefore it might make sense to you to dive a bit deeper and find out, what makes it so difficult to stand up for yourself.
You can do that in the following ways, and if you like, write it all down, journal away, and be your own explorer.
Browse through memories and remember times, when you somehow felt discomfort or even resentment and investigate, what exactly happened that made you feel that way without blaming someone, or feeling guilty yourself. You might find an inner boundary that you or someone else overlooked in the past.
Explore your own limiting beliefs that may be 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?
Am I thinking I am not loveable the way I am, not worthy of love?
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 make a list? this might be a moment where you will realize, that you might tend to generalize or distort your view and ignore successes. Become specific instead. List even small successes, skills, and qualities. Mistakes or weaknesses are not THE definitions of who you are as a person. There are all parts of your learnings and growth, so don't dismiss those and begin to value them too. Without any failures, you wouldn't have had the chance to get better at all.
Communicate your boundaries clearly
Once you have a clear understanding of your needs and values, it's time to communicate your boundaries. Be clear and direct about what you will and will not tolerate in your relationships. Use "I" statements to express your feelings and needs, for example: "I need some space to recharge," or "I feel uncomfortable when someone speaks to me in that tone." Be respectful, but firm, when communicating your boundaries.
You cannot change other people and you cannot take responsibility for the way they respond to certain things. They have their own boundaries (or not), their own values, issues, and dreams. So it is on you to change. Let them know when they cross your line. Do it respectfully as 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 nor 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 angrily. It is their right to do so, but it is on you to decide, how to react to that.
You will still encounter people testing your limits over and over again. Remember, you are not the one judging or 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.
Stick to your boundaries
It's important to stick to your boundaries once you have set them. This means saying no to requests that violate your boundaries and taking steps to protect your time and energy. Remember that your boundaries are there to protect your well-being, and it's okay to prioritize your needs.
At first, you might feel rude, selfish, guilty, or 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.
Accept setting boundaries as being a process. You learn, you grow, and you experience. Start small. Begin with something that doesn't evoke too much fear in you. Test it out, playfully and always respectfully, but clearly. No judgments, 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.
In conclusion, setting healthy boundaries is an essential aspect of self-care and personal growth. By understanding your needs and values, communicating your boundaries clearly, sticking to them, and practicing self-compassion, you can set boundaries without feeling guilty. Remember that your boundaries are there to protect your well-being, and it's okay to prioritize your needs.
If you want to dive deeper into the topic, I might have something for you:
My program "Navigating Life's Challenges With Grace & Strength"offers everything you need to know about resilience, including setting healthy boundaries. Have a look HERE.