10 Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are one of the most powerful tools you have in relationships. They make you feel like you matter and that you're safe. Asking for what you want helps you feel known by your partner.  

When boundaries are a struggle, you feel unsure of yourself. You go along with what others want because it's easier. You don't want to risk a potential conflict.

So you keep quiet. But something needs to change. You are getting tired of not putting your needs out there!

That means setting boundaries. 

Here are the steps to take, one at a time in this order. Each skill is necessary to move on to the next. They build off each other.

So let's get started.

What are boundaries?

Boundaries are limits you set for yourself about what you are willing to participate in. They are not about getting someone else to change. Here are steps to walk you through how to set a boundary.

1. Know what you want

If you have spent years denying what you want, I get it. You are not alone in that struggle! Focus on what you want. Starting small helps increase confidence. These examples can spark areas to start. 

Example: 

  1. What values are important to you?
  2. What is most important to you in relationships?
  3. What bothers you the most in relationships?
Learning how to set healthy boundaries 

Learning how to set healthy boundaries 

2. Give yourself permission 

The biggest obstacle in asking for what you want is fear. Fear that someone will get mad or be disappointed. To set boundaries means feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Start with the safest people until you gain confidence.

3. Be specific about your requests

When setting boundaries, be clear and concise. Avoid asking others to change. Your wants should be easy to understand.  

Example: I really need help with picking the kids up this week. Are there days that you could do it?

4. Ask without apology

One of the main reasons people struggle with setting boundaries is guilt. You think that asking for what you want is selfish. Maybe you were taught that growing up. Letting go of old beliefs that don't serve you is an important part of growth.

5. Watch expectations

Expectations are premeditated resentments especially with boundaries. Asking for what you want doesn't guarantee the outcome. Your needs are your responsibility. Expecting someone else to do it sets you up for disappointment.

6. Accept the answer if it's no

You will not always get what you want. Know that the "win" is in the asking not in the receiving. You are taking care of yourself in a powerful way. By standing up for yourself.

7. Don't take it personally

Once in awhile, you might get a bad reaction. Their reaction is more about them than it is about you. The only piece that belongs to you is the delivery. If you struggle with your anger or someone else's - get my free tips below.

8. Take responsibility for your needs

Realize that it is your responsibility to take care of yourself. Always have alternative plans so that your needs aren't always dependent on others. 

9. Find a way to fulfill it yourself

If you ask your partner for support and they aren't available, do you have others to call? If not, why not?

Make sure you have several options to get your needs met. Doing this empowers you and makes your primary relationship stronger. That way you avoid developing an unhealthy dependency on one person.

10. Let go of the end result

The hardest part of setting boundaries is accepting the outcome. Sometimes, you'll get what you want and other times, you won't. That's part of mature, healthy relationships.

The benefits of boundaries

Learning to set boundaries is one of the best things you can do for this New Year. Setting boundaries can clarify the health of a relationship.

If they aren't respected, you may want to reconsider the relationship. If someone reacts negatively whenever you make a request, that's important information. Boundaries highlight whether a relationship is reciprocal. 

You deserve to have your needs met - and boundaries are the way to get you there fast!