In my past, I was never very good at setting boundaries. In childhood, I didn’t understand anything about boundaries, and the adults around me did not model this behavior with any sense of consistency. Without the skills or good role models, I set out on a path that lead to unfulfilled relationships and an inability to see my own self-worth.
Throughout my professional life, without firm boundaries, I became the emotional caretaker and the responsible one. I neglected my own needs and desires to put the needs and desires of others before myself. I didn’t even know what a boundary was or why I should have them. I was carefree and easy, only to find myself enmeshed in the needs of others.
The concept of boundaries are established in early childhood. As babies, we bond mainly with our mothers. If our bonds with mom are strong, we naturally develop a sense of security. And from this bond we are able to form our own healthy, separate sense of self. However, if this bond was weak, it’s possible that we developed an underlying sense of insecurity and, as adults, we find ourselves subconsciously seeking security from others.
Here’s the thing, weak boundaries can cause us to be too trusting, or prevent us from standing up to poor treatment or abuse. Weak boundaries can open us up to be taken advantaged of by others. It can also wreak havoc on our emotions because our security is dependent on others instead of being rooted in our own self-esteem.
Boundaries help us communicate our self-worth and self-respect to ourself and others. Healthy boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish in order to keep ourself safe and out of harms way, especially in relationships with other people.
Here’s the tricky thing about boundaries, tho. We need to find the healthy balance of just enough without overdoing it. Boundaries work best when they are flexible, when they can be activated when needed, and allowed to dissipate when unnecessary.
Does this resonate with you? Are you the one who is the caretaker, the responsible one, the one everyone else depends on? If so, read on and I’ll share three reasons to take back your boundaries, plus I’ll give you some reflection questions to help you strengthen yours.
3 EFFECTIVE WAYS TO ESTABLISH FIRM BOUNDARIES WITH OTHERS
– FEEL SAFE IN THE SKIN YOU ARE IN
When you begin developing healthy boundaries, an important lesson is learning that no one else can provide the inner safety that you need and desire.
As you begin to love yourselves more, you begin to cultivate true intimacy and connection with yourself. Through fine-tuning your awareness, you begin to recognize your authentic needs and desires.
Through taking the time to journal, to do the inner work, you gain clarity into your true nature, allowing you to cultivate your own integrity and to strengthen your authentic voice.
– LEARN TO SAY NO
Your boundaries determine what you agree and disagree to. The art of saying NO is an essential skill in boundary setting. The place that so many of us get stuck is in the fear of the reaction of the other. However, when you can clearly state your NO in such a way that does not contain bitterness or negativity, you demonstrate a high-level of our own self-worth.
As you practice saying NO, you become more and more comfortable speaking these words. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to apologize for establishing your boundary. Just know, that when you apologize, you often think you are being polite. Don’t be fooled, when you apologize you just make yourself sound weaker. Be firm and unapologetic when you deliver your NO.
– BEING IN YOUR LIFE IS A PRIVILEGE NOT A RIGHT
As you continue to strengthen your self-love and self-worth, you may find yourself less and less tolerant of people, circumstances and situations that no longer reflect your values.
Being in your life is a privilege, and not an inherent right. No one has a place in your life unless you invite them in. Those who wish to be a part of your life must consistently treat you with consideration and respect.
Don’t be surprised that as you stretch into greater self-love, self-esteem and self-resect you will set new boundaries. People who may have previously felt entitled to a place in your life may begin to complain about your new found boundaries. They may call you selfish for holding your boundaries firm. That’s okay, just remember, that your healthy boundaries are directly connected to your sense of self-worth. They are rooted in your authentic truth.
The good news is that boundaries are a skill that can be learned, I know this personally, as I have been repairing the fences in my life over time now. It is a skill I continue to practice and refine though my self-love journey. At first it feels incredibly scary to hold firm, but with practice, each time gets easier than the last. And before you know it, you are surrounded by people who love and respect you, and those who took you for granted begin falling by the wayside.
Do you want to develop or strengthen your boundaries? Ask yourself these questions and allow yourself the time and space necessary to journal deeply into what you heart wants to share.
– What boundaries am I aware of having?
– What boundaries might I consider strengthening?
– How can I begin to enforce my healthy boundaries?
– What might I say no to that will strengthen my boundaries?
– Are there any places where I am stepping on the boundaries of others?