Have you ever felt that you prioritize others’ needs more than yours? Are you having difficulty saying no? If the answer is yes, it might be the time to set boundaries. Let’s explore some strategies to help us create and communicate these boundaries.
Know your limits
Understanding your limitations is the first step towards establishing boundaries. Although it may seem daunting, taking the time to truly know yourself is crucial. While it may take a while to fully grasp who you are, there are certain aspects of yourself that you likely already recognize, such as your values and the behaviors that you find acceptable. For instance, if you value respect, when someone speaks to you in a rude manner – whether it is your boss, partner, or grandmother – they are crossing your boundaries, regardless of their intended message. Sometimes, we are not sure whether a boundary was crossed or not, however you might get this gut feeling telling you something is not right. Listen to it.
Not all values and behaviors are universally agreed upon. While there may be social norms in place, not everyone adheres to them, particularly in private or personal settings. What may be important to you may not be for someone else, and vice versa. Thus, it is crucial to communicate your boundaries and limitations in a manner that is open, calm, and respectful. Rather than expressing what you dislike, try to articulate what you would prefer instead. This can provide clearer guidance to the other party involved regarding how you would like to be treated. For instance, consider a scenario in which your manager or colleague frequently interrupts you while you are working. Rather than responding angrily and stating that you cannot help them at the moment because you are busy, you might kindly request that they approach you when you are less occupied.
How to say no politely
Learning how to say “no” politely is an important skill to develop. Many of us fear the consequences of saying “no.” However, it is essential not to wait until you feel overwhelmed before setting boundaries. Oftentimes, we say “yes” when we truly want to say “no,” and this can lead to an explosive and impolite refusal that we may later regret. In these instances, we may end up feeling guilty and failing to set clear boundaries. Experiment with politely declining requests and observe how you feel and how the other party responds. This can help you become more comfortable with saying “no” when it’s necessary.
“I feel guilty when I say no”
Setting boundaries can often trigger feelings of guilt, which can be a significant obstacle to overcome. It’s common to become lost in the desire to please those around us, including family members, friends, bosses, and partners. It’s essential to recognize when to say “no” or to take a moment to consider whether we can meet their needs. Guilt is a powerful emotion that can motivate us to do better when we have truly done something wrong. However, feeling guilty for setting boundaries can be a hindrance to our best interests. We may perceive boundaries as selfish or wrong because we’ve been told that they are, or because of others’ responses to them. It’s crucial to recognize that resistance to our boundaries does not make them wrong or selfish. It is merely a difference of opinion. Often, our lack of boundaries enables others to take advantage of us. Thus, it’s understandable that they may push back when we begin to establish them.
BENEFITS OF HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
Improve your relationships by building trust, clarity and clear communication
One way to improve relationships is by building trust through clear communication. It’s crucial to establish what is acceptable from both your side and the other person’s side to minimize misunderstandings. Clarity in communication and boundaries can go a long way in strengthening relationships.
Protect your wellbeing by creating limits on what you are willing to tolerate and not
By setting boundaries and communicating them effectively, you can help ensure that expectations are understood and met. When you communicate your boundaries and expectations clearly, the other person can understand your perspective and know what is and isn’t acceptable. In turn, you can also learn about the other person’s expectations and boundaries. By doing so, you can create a mutually respectful and positive environment that promotes understanding and trust.
Feeling respected by yourself and others
By setting boundaries, you demonstrate that you value yourself and your needs, which can lead to increased self-respect. You’re not afraid to speak up for what you want and need, and you show others that you won’t tolerate behavior that doesn’t align with your values. This can also result in greater respect from others who admire your confidence and willingness to assert your needs.
Setting healthy boundaries is a challenging process, yet achievable. The above mentioned strategies are suggestions, where you pick and choose which suits you best. Experiment what works for you and ultimately you will find your own way of setting and communicating your limits.
If you need any support during this process, book your 30-minute free coaching session with me, to discuss your thoughts and challenges.