Wise Ways to Establish and Keep Boundaries
By Sandy Schroeder
Sometimes we put up with unfair treatment that crosses our personal boundaries, making us feel used, exploited, or wiped out. Learning how to set boundaries and keep them takes a little practice, but it can make a huge difference in life.
Hold your ground with these tips from DumbLittleMan.com.
Stay calm under attack – When you stand up for yourself, you may surprise the other person if they are used to invading boundaries, and they may become angry. If you have told them no, stand firm and let them figure out why their request was unreasonable. Usually they will, and sometimes even apologize. If they cannot accept your no, then let them go. Absorbing unfair treatment is unhealthy and unproductive.
Teach a lesson – When people invade boundaries and make unreasonable requests or demands, you can be sure they will be back with more of the same if you tolerate their behavior. It can be amazing how much more reasonable people can become when they realize their unreasonable tactics simply did not work.
Permit yourself to say no – When you really want to say no, do so. Swallowing your own feelings to avoid hurting someone’s feelings is unhealthy and unwise. Good relationships are built on equal treatment and open communication. If it seems reasonable, explain why you are saying no. That openness might make the difference to create a better relationship.
Avoid remodeling attempts – When you become emotionally involved, it is tempting to believe you can change the person’s behavior when they ignore boundaries, but it seldom works. For whatever reason, they felt invading a boundary was acceptable, which means they may not understand what has happened, and probably will not change.
Value yourself – The more you accept your own feelings and wishes, and take care of yourself, the less likely you are to put up with people who do not respect boundaries. Pursue your favorite interests and reach out to people who share them. As you do, think about what you want in relationships, and what your values are.
Step away – Sometimes just removing yourself either physically or emotionally can be the best way to clarify a difficult situation. When someone is asking something that is unreasonable, creating a timeout sometimes helps to establish a different relationship. Accepting calls and listening to an emotional attack simply reinforces bad behavior and creates a lot of stress.
As you work on maintaining boundaries, stay with it in spite of the ups and downs. You may surprise a lot of people who were used to ignoring boundaries, but if you stick with it you should emerge with better relationships that are really worth having.
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