Boundaries are important in our lives in order to have healthy relationships and careers. Unfortunately, many of us struggle with setting healthy boundaries in our emotional and professional lives maybe in fear of being misunderstood or seen as selfish. As we struggle with setting these boundaries and making promises to ourselves, we watch others walk over us, take advantage of us or mistreat us. Some of us feel more guilt, some of us feel weak. Whatever the reason may be behind our failure of setting personal boundaries, we need to remind ourselves that if we do not have them, we will always have a hard time communicating with others. So how do we handle this? There are easy steps to do it and we will talk about them now here.
1. Set your limits
When we find ourselves face to face with difficult situations or with difficult people, it is important for us to know where we stand. It is also important to know what we want and what we expect for ourselves and from others. Knowing where we stand and our goals will help us better identify our limits.
2. Listen to your gut feeling
When we trust our intuition, we can read between the lines, we can see things much sooner than others from a different perspective. Our intuition usually gives us early warning signs when something does not feel right or someone has negative energy. If you feel like something does not look or feel right trust your gut feeling. When you sense it, observe it carefully and identify the cause of the problem. This also helps for good opportunities since everything is not bad or negative. When you feel like something is right, eliminate your fears and concerns and be more positive and brave about taking the next step.
We spend too much time living in the past or in the future. We let our worries, our resentments and fears overpower us sometimes, forgetting about what we have now and enjoying this very moment. Sometimes we let guilt and anger take over. We let negativity blind us and scare us. Think about how many opportunities you have missed. Maybe with a certain someone for a good relationship, because we were stuck in the past, trying to overcome the troubles of a prior relationship. Sometimes we miss a good opportunity at work because we are not ready to take the necessary steps. Sometimes we lack focus. One way to stop this is to practice mindfulness meditation. It keeps us grounded and it teaches us to live in the present moment. It enhances our focus and helps us organize our thoughts.
4. Speak your mind
If you do not let others know about your boundaries, they will never have a clue. Communication is the key. When you know exactly what you want and how you want it, do not hesitate to let others know your limits. When people understand where you are coming from, they will be able to communicate with you their limits as well. With the help of communication, you can easily find a common ground.
5. Keep a journal
Every time you feel like you are having a hard time maintaining your boundaries, write it down. Analyze why you are having a hard time. What have you missed when you found yourself face to face with a certain person or a certain situation? Were you weak? Were you worried? Were you afraid of being misunderstood or selfish? Write everything down and think and rethink about what you could do instead. Can you go back and fix the situation? Or what can you do differently next time to not find yourself in the same place? Writing these things will help you have better focus and courage next time you encounter similar situations.
6. Change your mind
Having boundaries does not make you a selfish person or a bad person. Remind yourself that it is perfectly fine and healthy to set boundaries and maintain them. Others have them. Think of how you see others with good strength when it comes to maintaining their own boundaries. Do you think of them as selfish or do you believe they are rigid? Of course there are people who are rigid and they have unreasonable demands but you are not one of them. Allow yourself to feel better about yourself for knowing your limits.
7. Respect others’ boundaries
If you think that your boundaries are reasonable and necessary but others’ are not as important as yours, you are not being realistic. It is only fair to show respect reciprocally as others are as important as you. Remember that respect goes both ways. If you lack showing respect to others then do not expect them to respect you either. However, recognize the difference between healthy boundaries and rigid boundaries. Rigid boundaries are selfish and they mostly come from people who tend to control others. When you identify them, you will also stop others from controlling you.
8. Be patient with yourself
Change does not come overnight. It takes time. Just like we need to exercise regularly to build muscles, you need to practice your boundaries on a regular basis. It is something new that we learn. Change is not easy. After all we are trying to reverse years worth of bad habits and we need to be patient and understanding with ourselves. We need to also show the same amount of understanding towards others as they may also be struggling to maintain their own boundaries and they also will need time to build strength.
9. Reward yourself and others
When we achieve something and we notice we made progress, the best way to celebrate it is to reward ourselves. It could be a little gift we buy for ourselves, a treat like a favourite dessert or drink. Why not? You have tried and it worked. It is a good feeling. Likewise, you can also reward others when you notice they are on the right path. Encouragement always helps us and sharing it with others only makes it bigger and better.