Setting Boundaries – Part 3 of 4

We began by identifying healthy boundaries and understanding why they are important in our lives. Next, we addressed reasons we have poor boundaries in our lives. Now the hard part comes, actually setting healthy boundaries. Just like with all new things, it will be a challenge at first and will get easier with time.

Remember, a boundary is the line where you end and another person begins. If you have held poor boundaries for a long time, it can be hard to even know who you are. You have lost yourself within everyone else. People with unhealthy boundaries begin to have the same wants and desires as those who are closest to them. Often, they no longer know their own desires.

Let’s define specific steps you can take to know yourself and create boundaries in your life.

  1. Take a Step Back – The first step is to create space for yourself. Because you have lost yourself among everyone else, you need to back away from other people for a moment and listen to your own voice. By emotionally and maybe even physically making distance between you and others, you begin to recognize your own desires and reignite your own heart. In that place, you can understand what you want to do with your life.
  2. Define your Needs – Now that you can hear yourself, you will know what you need. You may begin to notice that you are tired of taking care of everyone else and no one taking care of you. Maybe you understand new things about yourself such as you do not want to attend a specific event or be friends with certain people. This is a time to reflect and ask yourself about each relationship in your life. Consider how these relationships impact the way your think and feel about yourself. Find a quiet place to make a list of your wants and needs. Do not judge yourself for what you write. Honestly, it is your judgements and guilt that got you into these unhealthy relationships in the first place.
  3. Make a Change and Verbalize your Needs When Necessary – Once you have identified your needs, it is time to make changes. Begin to find ways to do the very things you identified in your journal. For example, if you find that a specific friend brings you down when you are around him/her, start spending less time with that person. If your job is taking up too much of your family time, find ways to prevent that such as turning off your work phone at 6:00PM.

Not everyone needs to know about your changes. You can make the changes yourself, but there may be situations in which you must verbalize to others the new changes you have made. Take time to consider your words. Write down what you plan to say in your journal and practice before the conversation. Even though it will be difficult, it is important that others understand the changes in your life. Most important, however, is that you make these vital changes so that you can live a better and more fulfilling life.

In our final blog, we will discuss how to keep your boundaries strong and long-term, even when others may not like it.