5 Guidelines You Need To Set Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries can be the difference between feeling empowered or frustrated in your relationships. Giving yourself permission to set boundaries is the first step in taking better care of yourself.
What are boundaries?
Boundaries are the limits that you set for yourself. They are not about changing other people's behavior. That's why they're so challenging. Boundaries are more about you that what someone else is doing.
Setting limits within yourself is where you have the most power. Basically, that means choosing what you participate in and when to remove yourself.
If people pleasing or being afraid of potential conflict stops you from setting boundaries, keep reading.
Approval is Intoxicating
Saying yes seems to translate to being instantly likable. Friends and family love it and you feel important. That's why helping others is kind of intoxicating... until it's no longer a choice. At some point you want to get your time back but you don't know how. Maybe it's been years since you've thought of yourself and what you want.
Congratulations! You have gotten to the point where you realize your needs finally count!
So how do you start? Here are 5 guidelines you need for setting boundaries. These tips address what gets in the way and what you can do instead.
1. Let Go of the Guilt
Guilt makes you "should yourself" into doing what you don't want to do. Instead, you say yes but inside you're getting tired of always being available.
Here are some examples:
Driving the neighbors' kids even though it makes you late.
Doing all the housework because it's easier than asking for help.
Saying yes to a family trip camping when you'd rather go to Hawaii.
Lending friends money when you'd rather not.
Doing favors when you really don't have the time.
Underneath the guilt lives a nagging thought that you don't have a choice. But you do! You just have to exercise it. Don't assume others will react negatively.
If you constantly spend your energy on others, what are you going to have left?
2. Start Saying No
I write a lot about saying no because that's a simple, powerful starting point of change.
I can't say no because people count on me. Isn't that selfish?
In moderation saying no is one of the most empowering acts of self-care you can do. It might be uncomfortable at first. By setting boundaries you are changing the game. Others might be surprised at first but if the relationship is healthy, they'll support you. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. When you can set healthy boundaries;
Saying no means getting your time back.
Saying no decreases overwhelm.
Saying no decreases you anger and resentment.
Saying no sets a great example for having mutually beneficial relationships.
Saying no gives you a chance to reboot. Click here to read The Power of No. When you are constantly giving, it feels draining and creates a lingering resentment that hurts.
3. Ask For What You Want
You can't set boundaries until you know what you want. Every time you get resentful, that's your clue. The "no"inside of you needs to be honored.
Here's a challenge. Think of five things that you've always wanted but never let yourself have. You might find a neglected hobby, a relationship that needs to change, or obligations that you'd like to stop. Let yourself want something different.
You have a right to choose how to spend your time. Boundaries show where you invest time and energy. Choose what to participate in and when to opt out. When this happens, resentments decrease because you are giving out of choice not obligation.
4. Let Others Do for Themselves
Boundaries let other people take care of themselves. When you stop doing for others, you are kindly giving them back the responsibility for their own life. Family and friend's behavior is no longer yours to fix.
Besides, did you ever actually succeed in fixing them?
You might worry that by letting go, everything will crash. But, the longer you hold on, the more stressed out you get. Family and friends may resent your "helping" and see it as control. Sometimes its kinder to leave their problems alone.
5. Always Have a Plan B
You aren't meant to carry the weight of everyone else's problems. Setting boundaries means being honest about what you can and can't do. It's okay to ask for help if you're overwhelmed, or just say no.
Putting yourself first is what setting healthy boundaries is all about. It doesn't mean you won't help out on occasion but no longer at your own expense.
On a Personal Note
I've learned a lot about setting boundaries in the last twenty years. The biggest lesson was that boundaries are really about taking care of myself verse what you were doing to me.
Being able to say "ouch" keeps relationship honest. Telling my truth keeps me in the moment and helps to avoid resentment. Otherwise, why spend all this effort soul-searching to change our behavior?
When you let yourself set healthy boundaries you are free! Free to say what you want and let go of what you don't. That's my definition of freedom!
What do you think your starting point is with setting boundaries? Leave a comment below!
I’ve created a private resource library with tips like 15 Step to Setting Healthy Boundaries and 20 Ways to Detach When You Need a Break and much more! Click below to get access now!