Get Tough! … Constructing Personal Boundaries
5 Signs You Need to Exercise Boundaries
- You say “yes” when you mean “no,” or “no” when you mean “yes.”
- You feel guilty when you do not agree to help or give someone what they ask for.
- You are agreeable in order to be liked
- You don’t speak up when you have something to say
- You allow others to interrupt you, or overrule your decisions
How It Feels To Not Have A Voice
Everybody has boundaries; we just need to recognize them and let others know what they are. Not doing so is a feeling of loss of control over your life in any relationship; work, love, friends, etc… It is feeling someone has power over you, the threat of taking away love, losing job, or some sort of emotional or personal loss – feeling no control. It is the misguided perception that, “if there is something I can lose, I don’t have the option of having boundaries.”
Strengthen Your Personal Boundaries, And Keep Them
Shift your Perspective
First we need to realize, like in Jessica’s story, that our loved ones will respect and appreciate our boundaries. People who care about you want to know what you are thinking, feeling, and needing. Often times, those who have no trouble setting their own personal boundaries, assume that you express yours too. They assume that you are coming to the table exactly as you want to. Having boundaries is not only OK, but expected in a healthy relationship.
Steps in the Right Direction
Get clear on what you believe in, feel good about, and what you value. Know what you stand for and how you want to live.
Identify moments where you wanted to speak up but didn’t; have given more of yourself than you truly wanted to; or even just accepted situations that were uncomfortable for you. Think about the different ways that you ended up in those situations and the moment that you made the choice.
Be present in your daily life and notice when these moments arise, as they are happening. It may take a while to recognize them before they escalate, but keep practicing. If you are slow in the beginning, don’t beat yourself up. Recognizing these moments is a huge first step.
Communicate your boundaries. Get comfortable with expressing yourself; practice makes perfect. Whenever you are asked something, give yourself time – take a moment to respond. You are allowed to think about your answer. In that moment, genuinely consider if this is something you will not be “put out” by and are comfortable with. Then answer honestly.
In the beginning, it may feel like it goes against every instinct in your body. You will have to act counter-intuitively for a bit. But before long, that feeling will dissipate. In the meantime, just trust the person to appreciate your honesty and to respect you for it.
Don’t allow others to define what is OK for you.
When you set boundaries in your life, you will find that insecurity and fear begin to diminish. You will feel more empowered and self-confident because you are communicating your self-worth to those around you. The more you practice staying true to your boundaries, the more love, respect, and support you will find in yourself and in others.
Warning … Speed Bumps Ahead!
Dealing with Change
Congratulations! You have made a commitment to yourself and are growing and shifting as a person. Know that not everyone will be happy with these new changes though. You are changing the relationships you have created, and you can’t expect everyone to be OK with it, no matter how positive those changes may be.
Most people will adapt immediately. Your loved ones will love and accept you with these new boundaries. A few people however will weed themselves out and slowly disappear from your life. Either way, be patient and give everyone time to adapt.
It is important to realize that it doesn’t matter whether others respond ‘positively’ or ‘negatively’ to your voice, because this is about you. You are claiming your power, self-worth, and place in this world.
It doesn’t help to view someone as ‘negative.’ You can draw your own conclusion about them, but you must give them room to be who they are as well. If your boundaries don’t work well with theirs, that is fine. And if a relationship ends because of healthy boundaries, then that is not likely a relationship that you would have been happy with in the long run.
Don’t compromise your self-respect, happiness, or integrity, simply to keep someone in your life. Yes, you want to be liked, but ultimately you want to be liked for you.
Inner dialog: “I would like your acceptance, but I don’t need it.”
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