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Get Serious About Taking Boundaries Seriously
Do you often say yes when you want to say no? Do you feel guilty if you do say no? Are you afraid to voice an opinion? If you’re nodding your head in agreement, you probably need to establish healthier boundaries.
It’s possible you’ve realized this already. Maybe you tried to set boundaries in the past, but they have since been crossed.
What’s the answer?
Don’t Tread on Me
To create healthy boundaries in your relationships, you have to be F.I.R.M. This process helps establish and protect the boundaries you need to have a healthy life and build strong relationships.
- (F)eelFirst, allow yourself to feel what you feel. When you have weak (or non-existent) boundaries, you believe you don’t have the right to meet your own needs or even think for yourself. Admit you have a right to experience emotions – good or bad – and know that it’s okay (and necessary) to create boundaries. If you want anyone else to take your boundaries seriously, you have to take them seriously yourself. This means acknowledging the importance of your emotional well-being.
Once you accept your right to be an individual with your own mindset, comfort zone, abilities and desires, you can identify the boundaries you need to have in place to protect yourself. Think through each area of your life and decide what boundaries you want to set. Get specific. Establish boundaries regarding money, time, possessions, commitments, space and emotions. For example, you may be willing to loan money to your brother, but not your sister. The same rules don’t have to apply to everyone.
- (R)evealAfter establishing your boundaries, communicate them clearly to others. This can be extremely difficult, especially if you have a long history of people-pleasing and poor boundaries. It might feel awkward and scary, but this step is absolutely vital to your success.Keep in mind that healthy boundaries build healthy relationships. Those who aren’t willing to respect your new boundaries aren’t good for you. Those who accept them will respect you more for having them, allowing those relationships to grow stronger.
- (M)aintainAfter you have resolved – both to yourself and others – what you’re comfortable with and what you will permit, maintain these standards. Don’t back down. If you establish a consequence for the crossing of one of your boundaries, follow through with it. If you fail to do so, no one will ever take your boundaries seriously. When Jenny is 30 minutes late – and you said you’d only wait 10 – but you’re still there when she arrives, you’ve broken your own boundary. If you don’t allow alcohol in your home – but let your dinner guest bring a bottle of wine to share – you’ve allowed your own line to be crossed.
The truth is that this won’t be easy, especially at first. But you can’t back down if you want your boundaries to be respected. With practice, you’ll find that maintaining your boundaries becomes easier. It also results in more self-respect, greater respect from others and healthier relationships overall.
Additional Reading: Mom Was Right: You Are Who You Hang Around With
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