How To Set Healthier Boundaries in Life and Love
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Setting healthy boundaries in (all) of your relationships is the key to even better emotional health. Here’s how, and why, to do it.
Why do we find it so difficult to set boundaries in our personal lives? Even people who accomplish high levels of professional success can fall into negative patterns of dating – or even marrying – people who they know deep down are bad for them.
We are all human, and understanding that regardless of our title at work, this universal truth still remains the same is paramount to taking control of our personal happiness and fulfillment.
Setting boundaries is about honoring the most important commitment you’ll ever make: The one to yourself.
Being able to do so first starts with recognizing your own intrinsic value as a human. You are STILL valuable even if you’re not fixing someone else. You are STILL valuable even if you’re single. You are STILL valuable even if someone doesn’t “need” you.
Letting go of these false limiting beliefs is the first step to then proactively building boundaries that reinforce and maintain your emotional well-being moving forward.
It doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem. Nobody is telling you to cut out everyone in your life or live alone on and island somewhere. But, you also cannot continue to let them take advantage of your kindness.
How to start:
Learn to say no.
One bad habit of “people pleasers”is that they’re unable to say “no” to people who ask them for a favor or to take on even more responsibility, no matter how overwhelmed they are.
This isn’t about ALWAYS saying no to EVERYONE, in fact it is highly encouraged to give and contribute value to the lives of those around you.
But – doing so at your own mental and emotional expense doesn’t help anyone.
Setting boundaries is about protecting your time and energy so you can allocate it to the things and people you choose. It’s about investing it wisely and not taking on more than you can realistically handle.
I know you want to do everything for everyone, but the first step in setting healthier boundaries is understanding that it’s not your responsibility to save the world all by yourself.
Stand up for yourself.
Your ability to stand up for yourself is directly proportional to how much you value yourself.
Read that again. If it stings a bit, let it. It probably does for a reason.
Whether you’re being mistreated in a relationship, at work, by a friend, or even a family member: Your boundaries must be verbally communicated.
Here’s the truth: You need to set limits for how much you give, because others won’t set limits for how much they take.
Once you believe and understand that you deserve more than sub-par treatment, you’ll stop accepting it. It’s important to speak up when you feel disrespected or that your wishes are not being honored.
Begin practicing this with people you feel safe around. People that you know care about you, and may not realize how their actions are affecting you. When you begin to see the changes in their behavior it will give you even more confidence to speak up in more elevated scenarios.
Don’t just set boundaries; maintain them.
So, you’ve expressed your dissatisfaction with someone and they don’t actually change their behavior. What now?
Boundaries are not just expressed by words, but by actions. If a “friend” is constantly pressuring you to do things you’re uncomfortable with even after you express this discomfort, then you need to realize they are probably not as good of a friend as you thought, and begin distancing yourself from them.
I’m not saying to block their number and remove them from all social media (unless that’s appropriate), but simply protecting your emotional space by giving them less of your energy is a good place to start.
In case you’re wiating for me to say it – yes, this goes for family as well.
I cannot tell you how many people I’ve coached who tell me they continue getting mistreated by people they’ve expressed their boundaries to.
Let me tell you something, if you continue allowing the mistreatement, then you’ve not ACTUALLY enforced your boundaries. You’ve simply told this person what you wished the boundaries were if you had the courage to enforce them.
It’s time that you enforce those words with actions, or nobody will take you seriously.
Stop apologizing for everything.
How many times a day do you say “sorry”?
Instead of saying “Sorry I’m late,” try saying “Thank you for your patience.”
If you find yourself apologizing constantly, your subconscious is telling you that everything is your fault. If you’re late because there was a car accident on the highway, why do you need to apologize for? Doing so only dilutes the level of self-assuredness you project both to yourself and others.
Apologize when you’re wrong, but practice other words and phrases for when you’re not.
Take control of your self-talk.
Your boundaries are the representation of the identity you choose for yourself, and your identity is defined by how YOU see you.
How YOU see you is influenced by how you talk to yourself when you’re by yourself.
“Nobody ever listens to me at work” reinforces the internal narrative that nobody will ever listen to you at work, because you’re accepting the identity of a person nobody listens to.
If this is how you vieww yourself, do you think you’ll ever do the things in this article such as standing up for yourself when you’re not listened to?
Of course not, because you’re the person nobody listens to…right?
BUT, what if you changed the internal narrative by taking control of it:
“I’m working on speaking up more so people pay attention to me” sends a much different message and begins a cycle of progressive action that will help you show up with more confidence and authority.
As you shift your identity, you will shift the actions that reinforce it, which in turn help strengthen your boundaries.
Your boundaries are the borders of your life and determine who and what you allow into it. If you don’t make the decision, trust that others will make it for you.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
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