Relationships are at their healthiest when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their integrity. Sadly, many people find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of what the other person may need. These people most likely grew up in households that were unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries.
If you can relate, chances are you have a hard time creating and maintaining healthy boundaries. Here are some ways you can begin to do so:
Identify Your Limits
You can’t set boundaries unless you discover where it is you personally stand. You’ll need to take a bit of time to recognize what you can and cannot tolerate. What makes you happy, and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed. Only until you have made these discoveries can you move on to the next steps.
Don’t Be Shy
It is usually easier to set up boundaries with people whom you have a similar style of communication. These people will quickly understand your new limitations. But people who have different communication styles may not easily understand your limits. With these people, it’s essential to be very clear and direct.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
People who have a hard time setting boundaries don’t often allow themselves to acknowledge their feelings partially because they’re usually too busy worrying about everyone else.
You’ll need to start recognizing how people make you feel to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. When you’re with someone, make mental notes, or even jot down in a journal how that interaction made you feel.
If, after spending time with someone, you feel anger or resentment, this could be a sign that the person may be overstepping your boundaries. Try to restate your limitations to this person. If they continue to cross your boundaries, you may need to be firmer and may even consider restricting further interaction with them.
Make Self-Care a Priority
Put yourself and your needs first. It may feel strange and even somehow wrong if you’ve spent your entire life taking care of others. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and go after what you need to feel happy and well.
Speak with Someone
If you’ve spent an entire life with a sense of low self-worth, you may find setting boundaries quite difficult. In this case, it can be constructive to speak with a therapist to help you discover where these feelings are coming from and how to change your thought patterns and behavior.
If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to help you on your journey toward self-care.