Your personal boundaries are where you end and another person begins—psychologically, emotionally, and physically. They are an important way in which we define ourselves; however, some people have a difficult time establishing and maintaining them.
If you’re wondering about yourself, notice if you answer “yes” or “no” to the 5 questions below:
- Are you the go-to person for everyone’s problems?
- Do some people treat you like a doormat?
- Do you often say “yes” when “no” is what you really want to say?
- Do others take advantage of you?
- Do you feel somehow obligated to help certain people, even when the support is not reciprocated?
If any of these resonate with you, chances are you’re struggling to have healthy boundaries in some areas of your life. But the good news is that with practice, you can definitely make them stronger!
One of the key things I learned as I worked on my own recovery from trauma, was how important strong boundaries were for my healing—and my sanity. My family was full of dysfunctional people and relationships. As I became clear about what was most important to me in my life, I realized that I had to make changes to some of the family relationships I had—including the one with my sister. She’s had a serious problem with addiction for decades, and for a long time, I was always there to bail her out. But at a certain point, I could no longer tolerate the lying, violence, and drama that surrounded her life. And although I loved her very much, I chose to keep that kind of chaos away from my life, to protect myself—and more importantly—to protect my daughter from it.
Though I care very much about my sister’s well-being, I decided a long time ago to love her at a distance, because I respect myself and my personal boundaries.
We Teach Other People How to Treat Us
When you tolerate someone’s bad behavior, it sends a message to them that what they’re doing—or not doing—is okay with you. But is that what you really want in your life? Those who don’t respect the personal boundaries of others tend to take advantage of them, and in order to get their own needs met, they often don’t respond well to being told “no.” In fact, they can be very persistent and manipulative in an attempt to wear you down, which can make you vulnerable to giving in to them.
But you don’t have to!
As a human being, you are allowed to have your own feelings, thoughts, and opinions, and you are entitled to say what is and is not okay with your body, the physical space around you, and your life. When someone—an acquaintance, co-worker, family member, or intimate partner—tries to tell you otherwise, it should be a red flag.
Unfortunately, if you didn’t learn about healthy boundaries growing up, you could be stuck in a pattern that is likely not serving you in a good way. Allowing people to overrun your boundaries can make you feel resentful and stressed and diminish your sense of self-efficacy.Set healthy boundaries. You are allowed to have your own feelings, thoughts, and opinions, and you are entitled to say what is and is not okay with your body, the physical space around you, and your life. Click To Tweet
6 Ways to Strengthen Your Boundaries
While setting new boundaries with others might initially feel uncomfortable, with these 6 straightforward strategies, you can quickly master the art of doing it:
- Anticipate the situations where people push your boundaries and prepare your response in advance.
- Practice saying “no” by writing it out in your journal using the words you need to say to the person. Also write about any awkward or uncomfortable feelings you have about saying “no” to help you work through them ahead of time.
- Tell the person why you needed to establish a new boundary with them.
- Be firm and stay committed to the boundary you set, otherwise you’ll fall back into the same unhealthy pattern.
- If someone keeps pushing you, you’ll need to be even firmer, but you can do it! Don’t forget, they are trying to take advantage of you.
- If necessary, ignore or block that person’s email and phone number to help get your point across.
Remember, no one owns you. If someone continues to try and run over your boundaries, seek help (if you need it) to extricate yourself from the relationship. If it’s a work situation, schedule a meeting with that person and your supervisor, or file a complaint with HR. If it’s a family member, explain why you’ve created the healthy boundary. If they don’t respect it, consider following my example and choose to love them at a distance.
You don’t have to apologize to anyone for taking care of yourself and protecting your peace of mind. If someone thinks otherwise, then that is their problem not yours. Be proud that you’ve made your life and yourself a priority!
For more inspiration, order my recently released memoir, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child: How Persistence, Grit, and Faith Created a Reluctant Healer.
If you’re struggling and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.