Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is a skill that can be learned. Here are few things to keep in mind as you work on this important life skill:
Know what you want - It’s impossible to set good boundaries if you don’t know what’s important to you. Knowing what you want and knowing your values are is really important. A good place to start is to pay attention to what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. Those feelings help you identify what your limits are. They tell you that something is off and you need to make a change.
Take responsibility - Don’t expect others to know what’s important to you and to know what you need. If you assume people know and you think it should be obvious to them, you will frequently be disappointed. They don’t know, so it’s up to you to tell them. Other people don’t think the same way you do, and they probably won’t know when they are doing something that you don’t like or that upsets you – unless you tell them.
Respect yourself – If you are naturally a respectful person – respectful of other people’s time and energy, for example, you may have an expectation that other people feel the same way. But that’s not necessarily true. You may often find that other people will not respect you until you respect yourself. Setting boundaries is a sign that you do respect yourself and others will treat you more respectfully too.
Stop being so nice – if you are a people-pleaser, like I used to be, you may feel that you have to be nice to everyone no matter what they do to you. You’re nice to everyone because you want to be liked. In fact, one important truth I’ve learned is that this behavior is not helpful to anyone. Mostly, people prefer to know where they stand with you. They don’t want you to do something if your heart’s not in it. It can take a lot of courage to learn to say no, or to tell someone that something they’re saying or doing doesn’t feel good to you – but consider that it’s actually more helpful to them if they know. Going along with something when you don’t really want to because you think it’s the right thing to do, doesn’t help anyone.
Make self-care a priority – I know you probably hear this over and over, but that’s because it’s so important. Putting yourself first gives you the energy, the peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and to fully be there for them, so this benefits everybody. When you’re in a better place because you’re feeling good, you can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend – the best version of yourself.
For those who are highly sensitive, intuitive, and/or empathic, it’s crucial that you learn to set healthy boundaries for yourself. People tend to be drawn to you because you naturally help them feel better. Unfortunately, unless you are very aware of what’s happening, and how to manage your energy, this can result in you feeling depleted, or even in taking on their problems or dramas. Once this happens, it can be extremely difficult to know what’s happened and to let go of any negative energy that’s been passed to you. Learning to set boundaries can avoid this.
Action Step: Identify one area where something or someone is making you feel stressed and uncomfortable. Think about what you would really like to happen instead and think of a positive way that you can let your needs be known.
This affirmation may help:
It’s okay for me to set healthy boundaries. I easily create and maintain boundaries that support me and others.
P.S. For those who are highly sensitive, intuitive, or empathic, you're invited to join our Facebook Group: Highly Sensitive Professionals and participate in our weekly Facebook Live episodes of The Liberated HSP.