One of the most underrated and valuable tools in creating healthy relationships and developing self-love is being able to set boundaries with others. But what exactly does it mean?
Boundaries is knowing where you end and someone else begins. It is being firm and clear about how you would like to be treated and talked to in relationships. It means taking responsibility for your life and the relationships you choose to nurture. Doing so contributes to increases in confidence, well-being and energy; neglecting boundaries can lead to anxiety, resentment and burnout.
Although there is a common and misguided misconception that boundaries are repressive and selfish, it is the only way in which you can truly develop love, trust and intimacy with people and protect yourself from being used or manipulated. Here are some ways you can learn to say no and set healthy limits in your relationships:
1.Understand what your limits are. Take some time to reflect what your core values are, what you are and aren’t comfortable with, and the things that make you feel stressed or anxious. By assessing those feelings and being clear on what is most important to you, you can identify your limits and build boundaries in conjunction with them.
2. Be direct and assertive. This means being able to say, “No” to something beyond your comfort and expressing your needs in an explicit way. Some people will not need you to be direct with them as they may share similar temperaments and values as you; however, you will encounter situations where you do need to be assertive. In a romantic relationship, for example, it helps to be transparent about how much time you would like to spend together each night without losing your sense of space.
3. Be mindful of your feelings. If ever you feel discomfort or resentment after agreeing to something, these may be warning signals that you are allowing your boundaries to be crossed. Do not push yourself to do something because of shame or an obligation to help beyond your own limits. There may also be times you experience pushback for enforcing boundaries—but remember that the people who truly love you will respect them, even though it may be in conflict with their own needs.
4. Remember that you are in control of your actions. Instead of getting frustrated when something isn’t going exactly as you planned, use it as an opportunity to practise boundaries and develop self-respect. You cannot control what people say or do, but you can control the way you deal with them. For example, if a friend’s toxic behaviour is affecting you, choose to limit your interactions with them and love them from a distance. If you find this difficult, consider seeking help from a licensed therapist. BetterHelp.com provide affordable, confidential and easily accessible counselling with therapists who can readily support your growth and healing.
5. Prioritise self-care. Give yourself permission to put yourself first. This means honouring your feelings and needs and recognising their importance; they tell you vital information about your well-being and values. When you actively pursue self-care practises—such as doing things that relax you, meditating or exercising—you can better love others from a place of energy, willingness and complete presence.
Setting boundaries means getting tough, but by implementing the steps above, you can begin to develop healthy relationships, build your self-respect and dramatically increase your well-being.
If you’re struggling to set limits in your relationship a thrivetalk.com therapist can help.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.