The Power of Personal Boundaries
Personal boundaries are important for several reasons. They serve as barriers to protect your self-esteem. They are also tools for establishing limits with others and communicating that you won’t tolerate certain behaviors. Those without personal boundaries commonly end up in less than ideal situations and relationships.
Without limits, you’re a victim to the whims of those around you. Personal boundaries are about respecting yourself and demanding respect from others.
Establish healthy personal boundaries with these tips:
1. Value yourself. You have the ability to set your own boundaries as you see fit. Few people will treat you better than you demand, so take responsibility for taking care of yourself. Unfortunately, no one else is going to take responsibility for your well-being.
2. Define yourself. Decide who you are, what you want to be, and how you deserve to be treated. What are you willing to accept from others? What are you no longer willing to accept?
- If you don’t define yourself, the rest of the world will do it for you. And you won’t like it.
3. Place a priority on yourself. Others are important, but they’re not any more important than you. If you take care of yourself first, you’re in a better position to take care of others. Running yourself ragged for others really isn’t helping anyone. You’ll be a better parent, spouse, and employee if you take good care of yourself.
4. Consider where you need to set limits in your life. Maybe you need to put an end to volunteering to work Saturdays or stop accepting emotional abuse from your boyfriend. Maybe you’re just too willing to loan money to people that never pay you back.
- You get in life what you’re willing to tolerate. What are you no longer willing to tolerate?
5. Make your boundaries firm and clear. Make your boundaries reasonable, but clear to others. If others know where you stand on certain issues, there’s less chance for confusion or miscommunication. It’s possible to have boundaries that are too strict.
- If you’re alone and overly self-sufficient, you’re probably suffering from overly strict personal boundaries.
6. Be flexible. You don’t have to follow a rule 100% of the time. Decide who and what you want to let in and what’s best to keep out. Studies have shown that people with some flexibility in their personal boundaries tend to have to best combination of happiness and success. Being too rigid can be just as problematic as being too lax.
7. Learn to say no when needed. Boundaries are limits on what you’ll accept from others. Avoid falling victim to the tendency to make everyone else happy. Healthy boundaries and being a little selfish go hand-in-hand. Try saying “no” to someone today. The world won’t come to an end.
8. Communicate openly. When people cross your boundaries, it’s up to you to inform them. Many times, this is as simple as refusing a request. You may be required to provide more explanation in other instances.
- Others are unable to give you what you want if you don’t provide feedback.
Having boundaries is an exercise in caring for and respecting yourself. You have the right to expect a certain level of respect and consideration from others.
If your lack of personal boundaries is creating challenges for you, now is the time to start taking better care of yourself. Adequate boundaries are not only good for your self-esteem and general mental health, but for all other aspects of your life. You also put yourself in a better position to care for your friends and family.