10 Effective Ways to set Personal Boundaries

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Learning to set healthy personal boundaries is necessary for maintaining a positive self-concept, or self-image. It is our way of communicating to others that we have self-respect, self-worth, and will not allow others to define us. 

Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.

It would not be possible to enjoy healthy relationships without the existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate them directly and honestly with others. We must recognize that each of us is a unique individual with distinct emotions, needs and preferences. This is equally true for our spouses, children and friends.

How do we establish healthy personal boundaries?

1. A New Mentality

The first step towards setting personal boundaries is to accept the fact that it quite healthy to have one. The fact that you don’t need the acceptance or identity of others does not in any way make you less compassionate or loving. It simply defines you as a complete individual with self-worth.

2. Outline your objectives

Now this is so important. You need to really take stock of your life and spot the areas where you have been weak in setting your boundaries. This includes writing out the things you are no longer going to tolerate others to say, act or do to you. Create a mental picture of the new you based on your defined set of ideals and how you intend to achieve it.

3. Communicate your aspiration

It is very important to communicate with those that had crossed your personal boundaries in the past that you would no longer tolerate such unacceptable behavior again. Of course, this must be done graciously done to allow them to respect and support your new boundaries.

4. Anticipate the objections

Getting to tell others to respect your boundaries is not an easy task and more often than not, the conversation is usually very uncomfortable. It is however good that you prepare your mind for any of the possible reactions such conversation might generate. Either positive or otherwise, this should not make you depressed but make you determined to attract new, supportive, and healthy-minded people in your life. However, don’t compromise your values, integrity, and self-respect simply to keep someone in your life

5. Emphasis your boundaries

It may take some time to train yourself and others around your new boundaries. Continue to reinforce them so that you are taken seriously and respected. Practice saying no when you are asked to do something you don’t want to do and ask them to stop immediately. Walk away from negative comments without getting angry and soonest, the other person will realize you are serious.

6. Be Courteous to your allies.

You must be committed to continuously acknowledging and rewarding those who are supporting and respecting your personal boundaries. Thank them and this will motivate them to continue their behavior and most likely, help them to also develop their own personal boundaries.

7. Give Back to others

Remember that respecting boundaries goes in two ways. Be sure you don’t cross other people’s boundaries and secondly, you have to work really hard to reflect the respect and support you want for yourself.

8. Be Convincing Enough

You must learn to create a balance between enforcing your boundaries and showing compassion or understanding if need be. Sometimes, there may be occasions when you choose to bend your boundaries or allow someone to cross the line as long as you don’t feel you are being manipulated to do so. As you gain confidence around your boundaries, you will know when and how to bend them.

9. Persevere to Succeed

You know what they say about Rome not being built in a day. Be ready to appreciate the little progress you are making as the change doesn't happen overnight. As much as possible, try to insist that your boundaries are respected and practice to break free from emotions that led you to develop weak boundaries.

10. Self Confidence

Sometimes, the best way to achieve personal boundaries is to love yourself. You have to make a conscious decision to project that feeling of self-confidence and self-love to others, naturally. You also have trust your instincts and feelings about what you do and don’t want in your life. You are the most qualified person to define who you are and do not give that job to another person to do. Setting and requiring boundaries is a great way to practice this.

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries

  • Going against personal values or rights in order to please others.
  • Giving as much as you can for the sake of giving.
  • Taking as much as you can for the sake of taking.
  • Letting others define you.
  • Expecting others to fill your needs automatically.
  • Feeling bad or guilty when you say no.
  • Not speaking up when you are treated poorly.
  • Falling apart so someone can take care of you.
  • Falling "in love" with someone you barely know or who reaches out to you.
  • Accepting advances, touching and sex that you don't want.
  • Touching a person without asking.

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