Have you ever felt like you could achieve more if other people would respect your decisions, your time, your space and other things? But we don’t live in a solitary world – you have to interact with others, such as family, friends, coworkers and more.
The level of personal satisfaction you could achieve if you had boundaries in place that others didn’t cross is immeasurable. You’d be free from guilt and burdens often associated with other peoples’ wants and needs.
Why Too Few People Have or Respect Boundaries
When you think of boundaries, yours may differ from someone else’s. We all have unique priorities in life. For some people, they need boundaries like not lending money (or other items) to family or friends.
They may need boundaries for emotions or discussions, such as not letting someone steamroll you in an argument – call you names, belittle you, etc. Boundaries may consist of space, like not having someone forcibly hug, kiss or grope you in some way.
Most people have a way of dealing with those who overstep their wishes. They usually give in to the other person and complain later, or they begin avoiding the person altogether, cutting many people out of their lives so they don’t have to endure the issues that cause stress.
They choose these options because it’s easier than confronting them with another person. It’s easier to avoid someone or let them get away with things than it is to step up and put an end to it.
You may also know that setting boundaries will sometimes result in you having to dole out consequences when the other person oversteps your boundaries. If you set boundaries, but never enforce them, it’s a waste of time.
People who don’t respect them know that what will usually happen is you’ll want to avoid confrontation, so you’ll grit your teeth and put up with their behavior. They’ll get away with it.
What you have to do is make sure you’re the type of person who confidently sets and maintains your boundaries in spite of the people who tend to disrespect them (not just with you, but with everyone).
Once they know you’re not going to cave and give in to their ill will, you’ll have the upper hand in dealing with them and in getting to experience the kind of life you want and deserve.
You might be scared that if you set boundaries, you’ll be putting your entire relationship at risk. And the truth is, you might be – depending on how severe the violation is and how formidable your consequences are.
But that’s okay! What you need to understand is that in order for you to achieve the ultimate personal satisfaction, you have to be willing to draw a red line and make sure people respect you and your wishes.
This mindset of giving in to others and being quiet may stem from your childhood. You’re often taught to respect others, deal with things quietly on your own, and not rock the boat. As an adult, it’s your responsibility to yourself and everyone else to learn how to be strong enough to make sure you’re treated right.
Knowing When It’s Time to Regain Control Over Your Life
Your emotions will signal you when it’s time to set boundaries with others. Decisions that are made daily – saying yes when you’d really like to say no, for example, will show you that it’s time to take back control over your life.
Overwhelm often sets in whenever someone’s boundaries are being pushed to the limit. Maybe your boss or a coworker has taken advantage of your meek and mild personality, so they’re overloading you with tasks that aren’t your responsibility because they know you won’t push back.
You might be feeling overwhelmed being forced to attend a family event, when you already have an overload of work, parental responsibilities, and more. Any time one more item gets stacked onto your to do list that you wish you could say no to, it’s time to set boundaries and reclaim control over your time.
Frustration will set in whenever people are showing a lack of respect for you. For example, your coworker might want to hang out at your desk gossiping, while you have a project deadline to contend with.
Or you might be feeling let down your family who expects you to work and take care of all of their needs, without them contributing anything in return to help out. If frustration is building, it’s time to set boundaries.
A sense of dread is another telltale sign that boundaries are long overdue. If you find yourself cringing whenever a family member or friend calls, because you know it’s going to be something you dislike, it’s a sign that you lack boundaries.
Even dreading the next day at work because you know you’ll be dealing with people and situations that aren’t fair to you is a signal that you lack the proper boundaries to be in control of your life.
Anger is another emotional signal that shows you boundaries are nonexistent. Anger usually builds up over time. It’s not a simple one-off event that causes it. It’s when you’re disrespected time and time again that your emotions boil over and erupt into an argument.
With proper boundaries in place, you won’t have to get to the place where anger and resentment are dominating your day. Instead, you’ll see a problem and nip it in the bud, eliminating a future explosion.
First Steps in Setting Proper Boundaries
Boundaries begin with you. You might think it’s all about telling the other person what you want and need and expecting them to adhere to it. But the truth is, you have to set boundaries for yourself and learn how to abide by them.
That might mean you learn how to better manage your time or implement a stress alleviating regimen in your life without fail. When you have boundaries set, such as no work after 6 PM, and you abide by it, you free yourself up to gain strength and personal satisfaction that can empower you when it’s time to deal with other people.
If you can’t set and respect your own boundaries, then it’s hard for you to ask others to do the same. They’ll see how you treat yourself, so be a good example that you treat yourself as if you’re worthy of respect.
In terms of dealing with other people, do a sincere analysis of what it is you want, how you want to be treated, and what’s fair to everyone. You don’t want to set a boundary that’s unfair to someone else, unless it directly conflicts with your own goals and values.
If it is, then the two of you will either have to come to a compromise, or end or limit the relationship you have with that person. Go through and think of what your boundaries should be in terms of money, time, space, and more.
Think of how you feel when you interact with people. How does your boss make you feel? Are there are any boundaries that need to be set in that relationship? How about your coworkers? Your best friend? Your parents and siblings? Neighbors?
Ask yourself if any part of the situation is your fault or within your control. For example, does your mother come over on weekends because she’s worried because you never answer your phone or emails?
If you need the space, that’s one thing. But if it’s a simple manner of you being lazy or inconsiderate in responding, then it might be that you can take care of the issue with a simple schedule tweak to check in periodically and let her know you’re okay.
Before setting large boundaries, you may want to experiment with small ones. This is a leveling up process where you’re able to practice boundary setting and implementation without fear of everything having a catastrophic result.
Dealing with the Fallout of Having Good Boundaries
You’re going to have time where you start to feel guilty about setting boundaries. If someone you love wants to borrow money, yet you know they’ve taken advantage of you before, you may find it hard to say no if they cry or pout and cause a scene about it.
But try to keep in mind that when you give in to another person’s guilt and shame over your decisions, you’re saying it’s okay for you to live an unhappy life. You’re okay living a daily existence where everyone else gets what they want and need, but not you.
When you start to have your own back, it makes it easier for you to stick to your decision and not let others steamroll you with their own plans. So how will you deal with it whenever someone balks at your boundaries?
The first thing is not to ignore it. You want to be firm and assertive, but not whiny and complaining. People will turn a deaf ear to boundaries that sound weak and fragile. You can be courteous with your request, and friendly.
Some people will claim you’re hurting them with your boundaries. They’ll accuse you of punishing them. But don’t let them twist the concept of boundaries. What you’re really doing is protecting yourself, your emotional well-being, and in some extreme stress cases, your physical health, too!
If reasserting your boundaries as a reminder doesn’t get the person back on track, then you may need to explain the consequences if they can’t respect them. So maybe you started this plan by simply telling someone what your boundary was.
You may have told your mom, “I don’t want anyone popping by unexpected on the weekends anymore.” But the following weekend, there she was, ringing your doorbell. At that time, you can choose to remind her.
If she balks and blows off your request, then you know it’s time to set some more stringent ground rules. “If you show up on a weekend again, I’m going to refuse to answer the door.”
Of course, if she did show up and you answered the door, then you’ve just proven your boundaries are not set in stone. So make sure you carry through with whatever you said the consequences would be.
Consequences can become more severe if the person continually disrespects you and chooses to ignore your requests. Make sure you’re engaging in self esteem activities to empower you to stand up to the pushback you’re going to receive.
Making the Most of Your Newfound Control
When you learn how to set and maintain boundaries, you’re going to see a big difference in your life. It starts with you. You’re going to be a better person because you’ll be looking out for other peoples’ boundaries.
You’ll recognize when you may have overstepped them and be able to tone down your rhetoric or alter your behavior so that you’re more pleasant to be around. The same holds true for others.
By having boundaries, everyone else is eventually going to feel more at ease with you. You’ll no longer be stewing about their behavior, acting passive aggressive in retaliation for it, or avoiding them altogether.
Instead, you’ll be pleasant to be around because you’re happier! Your boundaries are being respected, so you have much less stress. The other individuals won’t be walking on eggshells trying to figure out how to not set you off because you’ve made it clear to them, and they can interact with ease no.
Because you’ll be free of many disruptions and inconveniences, it’s imperative that you use this newfound power for good. You want to take the time, money, and space you’ve regained and do something good with it.
Maybe you apply it to more self-care in your life. If you lacked boundaries before, chances are you were always taking care of others’ needs instead of your own. So now you can take time to unwind, schedule a massage or do nothing – guilt-free!
Take the lessons you’ve learned and apply them to other areas of your life. Setting boundaries isn’t a comfortable experience. But if you achieve it, be proud of now having that protective voice.
Use it in other areas of your life, such as asking for what you need. Maybe you need a raise for the hard work you’ve proven you can do. Or perhaps you want to take a romantic relationship to the next level.
Your voice will feel more powerful now because you’ve learned how to unapologetically declare how you want life to unfold for you. And people are either listening and complying or removing themselves from your life, which opens you up for new opportunities and increased personal satisfaction!