One thing that I have always struggled with is setting boundaries. I was too busy with being concerned about people liking me and avoiding conflict. Now that I’m self-reflecting, I have realized now more than ever how essential setting boundaries are. Not only does it help prevent conversations that make you uncomfortable, but it also keeps your privacy to yourself. The fewer people that know your business, the less likely you have to worry about information getting out. I came up with four steps to help with setting new boundaries within your relationships.
Decide Which Boundaries to Set
Before you can set boundaries, you need to determine what your limits need to be. Get a pen and paper to write down your limits and to whom each category represents. For example, finances and dating are off-limits to parents for discussion. Follow this exercise for others, such as friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. Doing this will help with oversharing information as well. Conversations should be a dance, and if it’s turning into a solo act, you’re sharing too much. Having boundaries will help you with not sharing details before it’s safe to do so.
Start Implementation of Your Boundaries
Now here comes the fun part of implementing the new boundaries that you set. It won’t be easy at first, but people will learn to adjust over time. You will most likely get backlash from folks closest to you but stick with it. People who love you will respect your boundaries after some time. Start with someone who will be least resistant to your limits. That will give you the confidence to continue down this new path. Don’t give up easily if people start to provide you with a hard time. People will try to see how far they can go, but enforcing your boundaries will let them that’s not possible.
Continue to Reinforce Your Boundaries
The best way to keep people on board with your boundaries is to continue to enforce them. Once someone tries to overstep, you have to shut it down immediately. Also, people need to know there are consequences to their actions. For example, if you told someone that dating was off-limits and they continue to push, the result is that they don’t get to speak with you. I understand that sounds harsh, but you have to put your foot down. People need to respect the boundaries you have set forth. However, if you don’t consistently enforce your limits, people will walk all over you. You have to be intentional for people to understand why your boundaries are vital for them to follow.
Reassess Your Boundaries as Needed
As life changes, so should your boundaries. There may be new topics to add or old ones to remove. Whichever way it goes, continue to reevaluate your boundaries. Make sure you do this often to avoid conflict when a topic comes up that you weren’t expecting. For example, a newly married couple will receive unsolicited advice from different people. It can even become overwhelming at times. When a new life event like this occurs, your boundaries need to include it. That way, people will understand that every new life event is not up for discussion. If you do decide to share, it will be your choice to do so.
Setting boundaries can sound scary if you never did it before. It can seem like a difficult undertaking at first, but it’s worth it in the end. I recently started implementing boundaries, and it’s working out great. I’m not forcing myself to discuss or do things I’m not necessarily comfortable doing. The beautiful thing about boundaries is that it helped me improve my self-care and improve my overall mental health. Boundaries are helpful because it sets expectations of what topics you will share and which ones are off-limits. Don’t look at it as a bad thing, but something beneficial in the long run.
Be sure to check out the discussion questions below before you go, and I’ll chat with you in the next blog.
Do you have boundaries set up? What type of challenges did you face while implementing your limits?