How to Set Personal Boundaries that Work
By Sandy Schroeder
Learning how to set good personal boundaries can be quite an art. All of us value our family, friends, and co-workers, but sometimes we need to reassess our boundaries. If we feel uncomfortable, used, or emotionally exhausted, the boundaries may not be working.
Here are some things to consider as you assess your personal boundaries from dumblittleman.com.
Expect negative reactions – If you have let your boundaries slip a little, you are bound to get some surprised or irritated responses when you establish newer more comfortable boundaries. Stand your ground and let others cool off. If they are still upset you may have to just let them be upset.
Don’t encourage bad behavior – If you have allowed someone to impose in the past, there’s no reason to continue that behavior in the future. Stand up for yourself by making it clear why you object and then stick with it. Most people know when they are imposing.
Simply step back – When someone continues to make unreasonable requests or impose in some other way, just find ways to be unavailable. On the phone you can cut calls short. In person you can reduce contact. Most people know when they are imposing, and they will probably get the message when you are consistently not available.
Learn to say no – Sometimes it seems easier to just say yes, but that may create resentment that weakens connections in the future. If you simply can’t grant a request, explain why and then say no. Most people will respect you for being clear, and being sensible about what you can and can’t do.
Know your own mind – It’s hard to set good boundaries if you are not sure of what you want. Think about your relationships as you figure out what works and what does not. We are all fairly complicated individuals, and one person’s preferences may not fit another’s at all. Once you are clear on what you want, let others know, and then stick with your preferences.
Never try to change others – We can only change ourselves, and sometimes that can be difficult. If you go into a relationship assuming you can change the other person you will probably both be disappointed. All you can do is set boundaries that work for you and see how they fit with others. Some will work out. Others will not.
Setting boundaries can open the door to better relationships with respect on both sides. As we learn to value ourselves and respect others, clear communication helps a lot. Sometimes the intent was good, but the person simply did not see what was going wrong. Keep talking and hold the line. Everybody will be happier.
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