Many of our problems in life don’t stem from other people, misfortune or other such factors, but rather from our approach. You may be angry at others who intrude on your privacy or don’t leave you be, however, the problem isn’t with them, but with you - you don’t know how to set limits. You’ll never be able to change other people, let alone by yelling at them or keep your thoughts to yourself, which is why the first thing you need to change is your attitude and learning when, how and why to set limits with others. Be sure that this won’t be easy, but with these 9 tips, you’ll be able to do it without feelings of guilt and through the understanding of the importance of boundaries on your soul.
There are challenging emotions that can overwhelm us like anger or frustration, but if we recognize them early enough, they can help us know when, how and against whom we should set boundaries. These feelings tell us that others are hurting us or intruding on our personal space, however, it doesn’t help to share these feelings the way we usually would – with yelling and negativity.
You have name your emotions that are burning in you when people cross your red line, and instead of repressing them or acting on them quickly, ask yourself, "Why do I feel this way?" "What do I need to do to feel safer?"
Before you set limits, prepare the person in front of you to be empathetic to you and open to the discussion you intend to hold. This is particularly important if you’re leading to a particularly stormy conversation having to do with a change in the nature of the relationship between you and the person who is hurting you. Break the ice by telling them that you’ve decided to make a difference in your life, and explain how important it is to you and how much you believe it will benefit you. When you emphasize the importance of your well-being and your sense of calm, you can create a more meaningful exchange of words and leave less room for someone to question your values.
People who find it difficult to set boundaries often have difficulty responding correctly to boundaries set by others. If you don’t know how to do this, it’s doubtful that you’ll be able to convey your message properly to the person you are trying to reduce negative interactions with. See others who set limits with you as role models, and appreciate their honesty when talking about such a topic. Only in this way can you maintain your peace of mind when trying to set boundaries with others.
Many people feel that they need to rationalize setting their boundaries to others, but there is no need for it and sometimes saying "no thank you" is enough. When you provide an explanation for your behavior, whether justified or not, you’ll only make yourself feel guilty for refusing the person and give them the opening to lead you to question your needs and desires. Start small and say "No, thank you" when you’re invited to take part in something that you have no interest in and continue to do so in more significant cases, such as when you’re asked to do something that goes against your principles.
If you don’t set boundaries for people and yourself in relationships with them, you might share details about your life you weren’t really ready or wanting to share. Although telling the truth is a good thing, if you share too much personal information with everyone in your life, you might feel uncomfortable at times with how exposed you are to them.
If you know that you tend to share too much information with others and regret it later, create a list of VIPs that will not only be people with whom you want to share information about your life but also what you feel comfortable revealing about yourself. Doing so will help you develop a trust and privacy system that will allow you to avoid disappointment, shame, or regret.
You may have a friend who constantly uses you as a "trash can" for all their troubles and uncertainties and on top of that, doesn’t reciprocate when you need a listening ear, or you might even have a friend who constantly asks for favors but doesn’t do anything for you in return. No matter what that person is going through you shouldn’t and aren’t responsible for their happiness, ever. This is sometimes difficult to internalize and even once you do, it might be difficult to create boundaries for such a person.
If this is indeed difficult for you, take a break from this relationship with that person. After a few weeks or months, check whether that relationship was important to you, but if you lack nothing without it, you probably gave a lot more than you got. As long as you feel better without that relationship, you don’t have to go back to it, however, if you do decide to come back, do so once you’ve set boundaries and decide together that this relationship will no longer be one-sided.
People who feel they have a need to please others find it very difficult to set boundaries because they have to change their habits from one end to the other. Which is why it's normal for you to feel guilty, selfish, or embarrassed when you do, however, you have to know how to deal with those emotions. Remind yourself that setting boundaries is like a muscle that needs to be strengthened over time, but until it gets stronger, come up with a mantra that will help you cope with your decision and action.
It can be a simple sentence such as "setting boundaries is important for my mind" or "the happiness of X is not my responsibility, rather it is their responsibility." This mantra can be your anchor that will remind you later of your purpose and truth, even though you may experience conflicting emotions.
When you are finally able to set boundaries to someone in your life, you’ll probably experience positive feelings mixed with some remorse, so it is important to share the success with another person you trust and can support you in the process. It should be a good friend or even a partner who knows you well and knows how difficult it is for you to set limits, and they can remind you of the tremendous and significant progress you’ve made for yourself, instead of starting to criticize yourself negatively.
Explain to that person your goals in creating the boundaries and let them know that you’ll need some support in the process. The second you’ve had the "conversation" with the person you need to set boundaries with, let your supportive friend or partner know, even through text. The response you get back, or even a simple emoji, can help you understand that you have something to celebrate and that you’ve made progress that is important to your life.
Think of all the ways in which your life will improve by setting boundaries - how you’ll feel when you don’t have to share with others every little thing that happens in your life or how you’ll feel if you can politely refuse offers that you don’t want to go along with them. The things that arise in your mind are what will happen in the reality you create for yourself, and you must remember that your life is in your hands. If you want to live a better life, do what is difficult but necessary.