A Guide to Setting Healthy Boundaries
Updated: Mar 8, 2021
In a recent blog I talked about what makes us so uncomfortable and fearful of setting boundaries. I also shared the benefits of setting boundaries and what we can gain from doing so. Click here to read the full blog.
Now that we know that boundaries can be good for us, let’s explore how to execute setting a boundary.
Steps in Setting a Healthy Boundary:
1. Identify who you need to set a boundary with.
Be aware of your feelings each time you are around someone. Do you usually feel uncomfortable, disrespected, worried, angry, etc.? (Let’s be honest, while reading these two articles on boundaries, you were already thinking about someone in particular, weren’t you? Or a few people??)
2. Recognize the uncomfortable feelings.
Observe how you feel and the patterns of those feelings each time you interact with this person. This is the why part of setting the boundary. This is the reason why we need to set this boundary with this person.
3. Decide on the boundary.
Choose what particular behavior you want to confront.
4. Set and verbalize the boundary.
Be clear, concise, and confident. Have an assertive, yet warm tone. We don’t want to come off as aggressive because this will make the other person defensive right away and possibly shut down. We also want to be assertive enough to know we mean business and are serious.
5. Determine a consequence.
We must be prepared if the person who is overstepping chooses not to respect that boundary. Verbalizing the boundary is one part of the process but it doesn’t mean we are finished. If they do not uphold to what we request of them, we need to give that person a consequence. This shows that we are serious about the boundary and if they choose not to respect it, then this will result, i.e. “if you choose not to respect my boundary, I will leave.” “If you continue to speak to me that way, I will leave.”
6. Give yourself credit.
Once you are done with the steps of actually setting the boundary, don’t forget to give yourself some credit for doing something that wasn’t particularly easy for you. Recognize that you were scared and uncomfortable, but that you got through it and did it! That’s called growth, my friends!
One major boundary that is underrated and undervalued is time. It is completely okay to tell someone you need more time to process something before making a decision. An example of how this may sound: "I need time process this; I will get back to you in 24 hours."
“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”
Examples of Healthy Boundaries:
It is important to note that when we set a boundary with someone that we have never set a boundary with before, we need to be ready for a range of emotions from that person. Many times, that person may feel shocked and become defensive. We are essentially telling them that they are doing something we don’t like, so a natural reaction is to take a defensive stance. Being aware of this and respecting the feelings of others will go a long way. We can say, “It sounds like you are upset, and I understand you may not have been expecting this. I will give you some time to process this. I hope you understand where I am coming from and that both of us can move forward.”
Remember, we can’t control what others do or say, but we can control what we do and say and how we react to someone. We can choose to accept their behavior or not. We can choose to remove ourselves from a situation.
I cannot stress enough that, when setting boundaries, we need to be clear, concise, and confident about our decision. It is important to know our worth and recognize when we are being treated unfairly. We are teaching others how to treat us. If we don’t teach them how we would like to be treated, they will never know, and in return, we will continue to feel disrespected and have resentment build up more and more.
Setting boundaries for the sole purpose of saying....“I matter too! My feelings matter too!”