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Psychology, Relationships, Self

Setting Better Boundaries for Ourselves

You can create a life that you’re proud of by learning how to stay true to your limits. By fighting for the things you want and getting assertive when it counts, you can create the future you’ve always dreamed of. It takes understanding, however, as well as the courage to go against the grain (if that’s what it takes). Stop allowing yourself to be pushed along on the social winds of fashion and change. Be your own person and build your own future by learning how to stick up for the things you genuinely want in this life.

Setting limits as a part of who we are.

Learning how to set limits is powerful, and it’s one of the greatest skills we can cultivate in this lifetime. When we set limits, we protect those delicate parts of ourselves that are important, and we protect our hopes, desires and our fears too. Without healthy boundaries that we’re willing to stick to, it’s easy to get overcome or lost in the machinations of others. If we truly want to build lives we can be proud of, then we have to figure out where our limits lie.

Our boundaries and our limitations compose the things that we are and aren’t willing to accept in this life, but they also indicate the “no-go” zones that define our romantic relationships and friendships.

Without our boundaries, we can find ourselves being pushed around by people that want to take advantage of us, and we can even find ourselves becoming lost in someone else’s dream. The limits we hold impact everything from our self-esteem to the way we see the world at large. They are critical, but too often we allow them to be pushed to the wayside as a sacrifice to someone else’s dreams or desires. Stop letting the world take the things you want from you and start sticking up for yourself by fighting for your boundaries.

Why boundaries are so crucial in this life.

Boundaries aren’t just important because they allow us to stick up for ourselves. Our boundaries are critical because they create feelings of mutual respect and allow us to safeguard our self-esteem. Understanding how our boundaries work is often the first step in cultivating the willingness to protect them.

Creating mutual respect

Though we can learn to think of our boundaries as a wall that doesn’t let people in, nothing could be further from the truth. Healthy and well-thought-out boundaries actually allow us to connect on a deeper and more meaningful level with the surrounding people. This is because setting limits and sticking to them allows for the creation of mutual respect, something which says, “This is what I need. That is what you need. We will honor both and find a middle way.”

Protect your self-esteem

Boundaries and limitations are the first line of defense when it comes to safeguarding our self-esteem. Our self confidence can be attacked both from within and from without. When we know where our limits lie, however, and we’re willing to stick up for them — it makes it much easier to confront and deal with those on the outside who would try to tear us down or make us feel small. Having boundaries means having the strength and courage to tell those people to hit the bricks and take their toxic energy elsewhere.

Greater awareness of needs

When we really allow ourselves to dig into the meat of our limitations, it builds in us a greater awareness of our needs and ourselves. Whether we are looking at our personal experiences or our closest relationships, this introspection always leads to a better understanding of self. Once you know who you are, you can more accurately begin to pinpoint where the lay-lines of your boundaries reside. Looking for limitations encourages you to take a step back and focus in on the things that matter most to you.

Better self-care

Along with a greater awareness of needs, looking for our limits allows us to zero on in patterns of self-care. Self-care should be a critical part of everyone’s life, but it’s easy to lose sight of what we need when we’re swept up in the chaos and pressure of day to day living. Taking care of ourselves is imperative for building up the strength and resolve we need to overcome adversity and hardship in our personal lives and our romantic relationships. It’s looking after ourselves andgiving our souls the food they need to keep going.

Fewer heartaches

Though it seems contradictory, setting boundaries and sticking to them is a great boon to our relationships. When we set limits and communicate them effectively, it allows us to bond with our partners and friends on a deeper level and understand one another more clearly. Limits allow us to know where we stand with one another and communicates what’s expected of us in both friendship and in love.

The reasons we fail to set appropriate boundary lines.

We don’t just wake up one day and decide to stop protecting the things we want or need. It’s a process that takes time, and it’s one that usually results from insecurities, low self-esteem and poor examples set throughout childhood and adolescence.

Insecurities

The most common reason we fail to set the boundaries we need is insecurity. When we feel fearful of ourselves, and fearful of those things we consider “shortcomings” it holds us back and makes us feel as though our needs aren’t worth sticking up for. If you want to be happier, you have to let go of these fears and prioritize your own self-worth.

Past experiences

The experiences of our past go a long way to inform the behaviors and decisions of our futures. If you are someone who has a long laundry list of past relationships traumas, it might have taught you that it’s not safe to stick up for yourself or speak up for the things you want. Likewise, if you’re someone who underwent extensive or painful childhood trauma, you might find yourself struggling to be assertive.

Limited examples

If we’re lucky, we get a lot of guardians and examples in this life that can show us better ways to live. When we lack those examples, however, it can make it difficult to make sense of things like setting healthy boundaries and sticking to them without getting too harsh. If you never had an example set for you on how to set appropriate limits around your life and needs, you’re going to struggle to see how important they are to happiness.

What happens when we fail to stick to our boundaries and limits.

Think having your needs pushed around is harmless? Think again. When we fail to stick to our limits, it has dangerous consequences for our lives.

Ruptured sense of self

You can think of boundaries a bit like a force-field, which works cohesively to protect our authentic or core self. They operate like shields and deflect attacks that are meant to destroy and distract. When we let these attacks in however (by letting go of our limits) we can find ourselves dealing with a ruptured sense of self, or an inability to realize — fully — who we are and what we want from our future.

Totally wrecked confidence

Boundaries protect our self-esteem and failing to assert them can lead to a further erosion of your self confidence. When we stand up for what we want, or even what we’re not willing to accept, we bolster that confidence and reaffirm our personal worth and value. The longer you allow people to walk over you and your dreams, the more you will begin to believe that they aren’t worth fighting for. Protecting your self-esteem means setting boundaries that work.

Relationship trouble

Someone with soft boundaries only works well for an abuser, or someone who has designs on taking advantage of you. Truly loving and supportive partners are those who want partners with boundaries, and those who aren’t afraid to express them. When we set clear limits, we make our expectations clear and make our relationships simpler and more comfortable.

People-pleasing to a fault

Are you someone who always allows other people to walk all over you? Do you push your own needs aside in order to make way for theirs? You might notice that the longer you perpetuate these patterns, the greater your need to please others becomes. That is because you’re basing your worth and your value on other people, rather than looking for it within and setting clear limits that protect it from the machinations of others.

Inability to make your own decisions

Along with people-pleasing, constantly pushing our needs and plans to the side can lead to a major inability to call the shots in our own lives. If you spend all your life defining yourself by other people, you’ll find yourself hanging when it comes time to make the big decisions for yourself. Learning to stand up for what you want is a process that takes time, but it’s one that makes us stronger for the undertaking.

Missing out on opportunities

Perhaps the most toxic consequence of living without boundaries is the massive loss of opportunity we experience. Ultimately, when we allow our needs to take a backseat, we deny ourselves the things we both want and deserve. As these things pass us by, we lose out on the chance to experience the things that might otherwise provide us with joy and fulfillment. In order to achieve true happiness and enlightenment, we have to learn to live in line with our truths and that means laying down boundary lines for others and ourselves.

How to set boundaries and limits you can stick to.

You don’t have to be the victim of others forever. You can learn to create a life you’re proud of by learning how to recognize and stick up for your boundaries. Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Become the hero of your own story by figuring out where your limits lie and prioritizing your own joy and wellbeing.

1. Figure out where your limits lie

It’s hard to set boundaries and stick to them if you don’t know where those lines lie for you. We all have different limits, and different levels of behavior and treatment we’re willing to accept. Some of us want a bustling social life filled with friends who are constantly in our business, while some of us just want something simpler…and far more quiet. The choice is ultimately yours, but it can’t be made if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Spend some time on your own and away from the opinions and influences of others. Find a quiet space where you’ll be uninterrupted and start digging into the root of who you are and what you want. Look for the things that matter.

What do you want from your life, and what people do you want around you when you get there? How do you want to be treated in your friendships? How do you expect to be treated in your relationships? All of these things are important and go a long way in helping us to determine where the boundary lines lie. Use some mindful journalling or meditation techniques to reflect on what means the most to you. What are you willing to accept in this life, and what are you not willing to accept? The choice is yours and yours alone.

2. Take an inventory

Our emotions can go a long way in informing the way we feel about things and where our boundary lines lie. We’re always growing and changing as humans, and that means that the things that are important to us can change too. That’s why it’s so important that we regularly check in with ourselves and take an inventory — so we can make sure our boundary lines still lie where we expect them to.

Take a step back and regularly check in on yourself and your emotional wellbeing. Ask yourself some questions like, “How am I feeling about my current circumstances? How am I feeling about the relationships in my life?” Often, when we check in with ourselves after a while we find that things don’t quite add up like they used to.

Check in on your happiness and your contentment from time to time. Listen to them as they tell you what’s changed and what they want to do next. The more regularly we tune into who we are, the better equipped we are to navigate with the complex and nuanced fluidity that is life. Don’t just assume that what was important to you yesterday is the same thing that will be important to you tomorrow. Take an inventory and keep a stock of the changes.

3. Be more direct

It’s not fair to expect everyone around us to understand our boundary lines without explanation. Unfortunately, as humans, we can be very inward-facing, so for this reason it’s important to be clear and direct with others on where your boundary lines lie. When we are direct, we leave little room for misunderstanding and make it easier for others to understand what is expected of them. The more simply and clearly we communicate this, the easier it is to stand by our boundaries and avoid conflict around them.

Learn how to speak up for yourself and learn how to speak out about what’s important to you. If someone does something that you don’t like, tell them — and do it in very clear and certain terms. Expressing where your limits lie isn’t disrespectful, it’s a basic instinct.

Be kind. Be civil. When someone crosses the line, let them know what they’ve done and let them know why it upsets you. You don’t need to go into a full history, and you don’t need to justify yourself. A simple explanation will do. Start small. The more you do this, the more natural it will become and you’ll soon find yourself tapping into your newfound assertiveness all over town. Don’t leave space for people to use guesswork. Make your boundaries clear from the start,and make sure the surrounding people know where your limits lie.

4. Prioritize yourself

Prioritizing yourself is one of the key steps in learning how to stick up for your limitations. This means that you realize the value of both your needs and your desires, and it also means standing up for those things when they’re challenged. Whether you’re a parent, a spouse, a coworker or a combination of all three — it’s critical that you prioritize your need and see the inherent value in their existence.

Stop putting yourself second and stop always allowing your needs and wants to be put by the wayside. Get proactive about creating the life you want and start taking care of yourself as well as you take care of other people.

Build a self-care routine you can stick to and regularly make time to check in with yourself across multiple levels. Your brain needs time to rest, relax and recharge in order to stay strong. Prioritize that most basic of needs by making sure you get enough time to yourself to stay focused and grateful. Life is hard enough without completely losing sight of yourself. Start putting yourself first and prioritize your own needs and desires.

5. Boost your self-esteem

Self-esteem is a critical part of being happy on this planet, but it’s something that so many of us struggle with on a daily basis. Our self-esteem determines how we treat ourselves and our bodies, but it also determines how we allow others to treat us. If your self-esteem is bottomed out, then it makes it that much easier for you to roll over and accept behavior and treatment that you don’t deserve. Finding lasting happiness requires us to boost our self-confidence and realize that we have just as much of a right to joy and fulfillment as anyone else.

Release your need to be defined by others, and start getting focused on defining yourself. What is your definition of happiness? What strengths do you have that can help you accomplish those goals? Start celebrating yourself and the things you do right and well. On the flip side, embrace your weaknesses too and understand how they work with your strengths to make you a better person.

The better you feel about yourself, the easier it will become to prioritize your needs. Be as compassionate with yourself as you would with a friend, a parent or someone you love. Stop hanging on to all those insecurities and fears and stop allowing the negative opinions of others to affect the only opinion that matters: yours. We have a limited time on this planet, and there is limited space in our lives. Stop wasting all that time and space with the limitations and judgements of others. Live within your own boundary lines and boost your self-esteem to get there.

6. Start small

Learning to protect your boundaries ultimately comes down to learning how to stand up for yourself and being more assertive in life. We are the only ones who can truly stick up for our needs and desires, because we are the only ones who can fully realize their depth and importance. This can be a terrifying prospect, however, if you’re new to the world of standing by your limitations. No matter what boundaries you decide to set once it comes time to stick to them — start small. There’s no use diving headfirst into uncharted territory.

Take little steps. Don’t let the fear overcome your need to protect what’s yours. Some people might try to make you feel small for defining your needs and standing by them, but they have no right to make any judgement on who you are and what you need. Let them know that their journey is theirs, and your journey is yours. Do 3 small things each day to solidify those limits and reconfirm them.

Start saying “no” to the things you don’t want to do, and the people that don’t fit the goals you’re trying to achieve. Stop letting people push you over or tread over your dreams because they believe theirs to hold more importance. Find a way to turn down at least 3 opportunities that aren’t right for you each day and immediately release any sense of guilt you might feel. We don’t have to do things that other people want us to do. The only thing we have to do is make sure we’re looking after ourselves and being the best possible version of ourselves that we can be.

Putting it all together…

Setting limits in our lives is important, but it can feel foreign and scary, as if it’s something you’ve never done before. When we set boundaries, we protect our self-esteem and protect our future and wellbeing by prioritizing our safety and our happiness. Limits safeguard our futures and make it possible to establish happier and healthier relationships. If you’re tired of being taken advantage of, or if you feel like you are lost and spinning with no direction, then leaning into your boundaries might be just what you need to get back on track.

Stop rolling over and allowing the universe and society to tell you what to do. Take charge of your life by setting some limits and ensuring the surrounding people stick to those limits. Spend some time figuring out where those limits lie, then take an emotional inventory to assess how you need to go about protecting those limits. The way we people treat us is determined in our own boundary lines and how hard we fight for them. Be direct and upfront both about what you need and what you expect from people. Don’t be shy about prioritizing yourself and your needs as equally as you prioritize the needs of others. There is nothing wrong or shameful about sticking up for yourself and the things you want. Limit the negative self-talk and boost your self-esteem. You deserve to be happy as much as anyone else on this planet, and you deserve to have the things you’ve worked hard for. Embrace this reality and start small. Stick up for your limits in three small ways each day and find yourself start to bloom in confidence.


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