Setting boundaries and establishing limits is a very important and necessary part of self care. Without any personal boundaries, people can take advantage of us, use us, abuse us, manipulate us, control us and trample on our self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem. Without personal boundaries, we are like puppets and other people are the puppeteers. We are no longer the masters of our own lives; instead, we are at the whim of other people’s desires.
Setting and establishing boundaries does not mean that you are being mean, selfish or uncaring; in fact, it’s the opposite. It shows that you respect and care about yourself, your well-being and your happiness enough and foremost. Placing your own well-being and happiness as a top priority is essential in life. It is critical for the health of your self-esteem and self-worth. Setting boundaries is what I call healthy selfishness. It is about exercising proper self care. Self care involves taking care of and protecting our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.
You have an emotional bill of rights that entitles you to being respected. When people ignore or cross your personal boundaries, they are being disrespectful. So establishing boundaries and limits with people naturally communicates that you are demanding their respect. However, we have to first believe that we deserve to be respected at all times. Loving ourselves enough to know that we deserve to be respected is very important for our emotional health.
Here are signs you have not set personal boundaries:
- Saying no when you mean yes or yes when you mean no.
- Feeling guilty when you do say no.
- Acting against your integrity or values in order to please.
- Not speaking up when you have something to say.
- Adopting another person’s beliefs or ideas so you are accepted.
- Not calling out someone who mistreats you.
- Accepting physical touch or sex when you don’t want it.
- Allowing yourself to be interrupted or distracted to accommodate another person’s immediate wants or needs.
- Giving too much just to be perceived as useful.
- Becoming overly involved in someone’s problems or difficulties.
- Allowing people to say things to you or in front of you that make you uncomfortable.
- Not defining and communicating your emotional needs in your closest relationships.(Source: http://liveboldandbloom.com/08/life-coaching/want-to-boost-your-self-esteem-10-ways-to-establish-personal-boundaries)
Creating boundaries involves knowing what you believe in, what you value, what you like and dislike, what you will accept and not accept and what your limits are. It also involves not feeling responsible for another person’s happiness. Each person is responsible for their own happiness. We do not need to violate our own beliefs and values to please others or make them happy. Doing so is doing a great disservice to yourself at a hefty emotional price.
Healthy boundaries involve being able to say “no” without guilt. Saying “no” is setting a limit on what you will and will not do, and that is perfectly acceptable. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. If there is something you do not wish to do, feel uncomfortable with or which violates your personal beliefs or values, then say “no.” Say “yes” only when you feel comfortable doing so, but not to please others or out of duty and obligation. Behave according to your own beliefs and values and according to what feels right and most comfortable for you, and you will be much happier for it.
Healthy boundaries also involve directly asking for and stating what you want and need. If someone is doing or saying something that makes you feel uncomfortable or ill at ease, you can tell the person that what they are doing is not OK with you or that you do not feel comfortable with it. Then tell them what you need and want instead. This is also establishing a healthy boundary.
Also, feel OK with disagreements. It is perfectly acceptable to disagree; people can agree to disagree and it is alright and healthy to do so. Some people may become angry, bitter or resentful when you begin to set and establish boundaries for yourself – let them. That is their problem, not yours. Again, you are not responsible for their happiness, they are.
And know that you are responsible for your own happiness. Your happiness is important, so do not let others trample on it. Establishing healthy boundaries involves taking personal responsibility for your happiness. Know that a lack of boundaries invites others to disrespect and disregard your needs and therefore, your happiness. Just as in every other aspect of life, you are responsible for taking care of you.
It may be hard for some people because they may fear rejection, lack of acceptance or lack of love from those they need to establish healthier boundaries with. This is a falsehood. You are no less lovable or likable than you were. And again, if people become angry or resentful, it is only because they are no longer allowed to step on you, not because they like you any less. People who take advantage of others and who cross boundaries frequently are actually toxic people that we need to learn how to either manage or sidestep.
When you enforce boundaries with people, you are forcing them to respect your needs. Setting boundaries will develop greater self-esteem, improved self-respect and will lead to greater happiness in life.
So here’s to setting boundaries and to your happiness!