Boundaries are imaginary lines that help you protect yourself both physically and emotionally. They keep other's actions and behaviors from hurting, distracting, annoying, or imposing on you. Boundaries are limits you set on how others can treat you or behave around you. People treat you as you allow them to; however, you can actually teach others how to treat you based on how strong or weak your boundaries are.
Having strong boundaries are important for protecting your body, mind, and spirit. Setting boundaries can make an enormous impact on the quality of your life. It is a major step in taking control of your life and vital for taking responsibility for your self and your life. It is the one skill that you most need to develop in order to create the kind of life you really want. However, it's often the area where most people seem to have the most difficulties.
Setting strong boundaries will help you stand up for yourself, stop agreeing to do things you really don't want to do, and start feeling less guilty about putting your own needs first. It's a part of the process of defining yourself and what is acceptable to you. When you don't have boundaries set other people will step over the line without even realizing where it is.
Boundary setting is not about getting other people to change (even though at first, it may seem that way). It's really about deciding what you will and won't tolerate any longer in your life, and then communicating this firmly and consistently whenever you need to. Boundaries are essential to becoming a healthy adult and balancing your work and personal life effectively. They demonstrate your commitment to self-respect.
The first step in establishing boundaries is self-awareness; you'll need to identify where you need more space, self-respect, energy, and/or personal power. Begin this process by recognizing when you feel angry, frustrated, violated, or resentful. In these cases, you've often had a boundary "crossed". By becoming aware of situations that require you to have stronger limits, you can begin creating and communicating your new boundaries to others.
Creating boundaries for your business and home will help you honor yourself more. It's perfectly okay to request or demand respect from others and to honor yourself. Someone's tone of voice, negativity, criticism, derogatory language, or other form of disrespect, may prompt you to create a boundary in order to protect yourself and your goals from disruptive influences.
Give yourself permission to begin honoring yourself and others in new ways. Boundaries are an important way for you to respect the needs of others, as well as your own. Ironically, when you become aware of your own boundaries (and begin to respect them) you'll naturally begin to regard the boundaries of others, as well. Respecting other people's boundaries helps make you a more attractive person to be around.
It's important to note that in establishing boundaries:
- Your personal needs are valid. It is not necessary for you to defend, debate or over-explain your request.
- Enlist the support of a friend for before and after the boundary-setting conversation, if necessary.
- Begin setting boundaries with the easiest ones and build yourself up to the more challenging ones for you. Let your communication and behavior get stronger before you tackle the harder boundaries.
- Tell people immediately when they are doing something that violates one of your boundaries.
- Simply tell them what they are doing that makes you feel angry, frustrated, violated, resentful, or uncomfortable. Communicate gracefully and honestly.
- Make a direct request that they stop the behaviors that offend or bother you. Be very specific about what you want.
- Follow-up to let them know how they are doing at honoring your request.
- Thank them for making the change.
And, if they refuse to cooperate:
- Warm them of a possible consequence if they continue disregarding your request.
- Demand that they stop.
- Just walk away without getting angry or fighting.
- Or, if necessary follow through with the consequence you previously warned them about.