5 Way to Build and Maintain Better Boundaries
By Christi Carlton
Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, ultimately a healthy life. Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is a skill and takes time to master. We might pick up ideas experience or by watching others, however for many of us building & maintaining boundaries is a relatively new concept and a challenging one at that.
Having healthy boundaries isn’t about building barriers. It’s about understanding what your limits are and not giving in when you know you shouldn’t. Once upon a time, I thought that having boundaries meant that I was hiding who I was. I believed that by having boundaries I wasn’t allowing people to see the real me. The fact of the matter was, by not having boundaries I was setting myself up for failure over and over again. I made excuses like, “I don’t want to play games” or “If I have boundaries I’m not be honest about who I am”. Boy was I wrong!!! Once I learned how to set & maintain healthy boundaries in all aspects of my life, I was able to engage with people in a more authentic way. I was able to communicate better and stand strong knowing what I was willing to accept and what I was not going to accept. Today, my relationships at work, at home, and in romance are far greater that ever before. I’m not longer afraid to stand u for my beliefs and myself. As a result, people respect me more because I respect myself.
September is all about building and maintaining better boundaries. In this week’s post, I want to share the top 5 lessons I learned in hopes it will help you too.
Get clear on your limits
You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand in the major areas of life. Take time to identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits. In this exercise, consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. Listen to your intuition and know that the things that make you feel good and what things back your blood boil.
Pay attention to your feelings
How do you know when those boundaries are being tested? There are 2 huge red flags that surface when we don’t honor our boundaries. Discomfort and Resentment! These feelings arise when we know we are not holding true to our boundaries and when we don’t acknowledge them. The feelings may start small and boil to a breaking point when we continue to ignore them over time. When you start to see these signs, simply ask yourself why you feel this way and what is triggering the feelings. As you begin to explore why the feelings are there, you are better equipped to understand what boundaries are being tested and take the appropriate action.
Be honest with yourself & others
When you feel that a boundary is being pushed or has been crossed, be honest with yourself. Only then can you open a healthy dialoged with the other person to help them understand why the behavior is bothering you. For example, let’s say you are dating a great person, however the time they allocate to you is sparse, you may begin to build resentment towards them. Once you evaluate why this is, look to see if the feelings are reasonable. If they are, have an open conversation in a gentle way. Perhaps the boundaries in the workplace have been crossed. Same rules apply…get clear on why and have the conversation. You have to get crystal clear on what the drivers are so you can have an honest conversation.
Give yourself permission to own it
Fear, guilt and self-doubt are potential downfalls that creep in when we aren’t true to our boundaries. We might fear the other person’s response if we bring up the topic. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no. Often we believe we should be able to just deal with a situation or say yes to everything because that’s what makes us a good partner, good worker, good child, etc. The reality is when you don’t enforce the boundaries; you begin to feel drained or worse, taken advantage of. You are worthy of having boundaries and owning how you feel! Boundaries aren’t just a requirement for healthy relationships; they’re a sign of self-respect. Give yourself the permission to set boundaries and maintain them.
Make self-care a priority
Give yourself permission to put yourself first! When we do this, our need and motivation to set boundaries becomes a requirement to maintain our sanity, confidence, and self-love. Self-care also means recognizing the importance of your feelings and honoring them. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, take a time to retreat & do something that makes you happy. Putting yourself first also gives you energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there for them in a more authentic way. When we’re in our happy place, we can support those around us much better.
The key to success it starting small! To make change last, we must take small steps each and every day to create lasting change. Think of creating and maintaining boundaries just as you would learning to ride a bike. You had to start with training wheels before you were able to ride solo. The same is true here! You are learning a new skill, which takes patience and persistence. Go easy on yourself and make small changes every day. Start with a small boundary that isn’t threatening to you, and then incrementally increasing to more challenging boundaries. This is a skill that will continue to grow over your life. You can shift, change, and revise as needed. The key is staying true to whom you are and be consistent. If you get stuck or find yourself struggling, reach out for help. I’m here to guide you.
Love & Happiness Always,