Keeping Your Personal Boundaries

Setting boundaries means defining reasonable limits with others regarding their behavior towards us. We draw lines to determine whether the actions toward us are acceptable or unacceptable on our terms. Such boundaries come from keeping a healthy sense of self-worth. This means we choose to value ourselves and not just base all our decisions and actions on pleasing other people. Doing good does not mean you let others trample on your self-worth while making them happy and keeping their view of you untarnished.


Self-worth is different from self-esteem; Self-esteem is the confidence and capacity to do great things. Self-worth realizes your value as a person, given your strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Realize that, like others, you are also entitled to your own opinions, space, feelings, friends, and beliefs. You are an intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual being that should also be respected.


Setting boundaries takes skills. It does not come easily, especially for those who have depended their self-worth on the approval of others. This is not healthy at all if the person continues doing this, it will be hard for them to build happy relationships, and all their accomplishments will not be as satisfying and fulfilling as they should be. One should therefore learn to live away from the shadow of approval and judgments of others and set boundaries for oneself.


Here are the suggested ways to start setting your boundaries.


  1. Know your limits. 


Think about your past relationships with strangers, colleagues, family, friends, and partners. What experiences with them made you feel angry, frustrated, or resented? These things may have happened because you have reached your limit. Their action might have crossed your boundary.

It can help if you chart them down to categorize actions according to what is okay for you and what does not work for you. Know what makes you feel comfortable and safe and what does not. These may be topics they ask about that are too personal for you, or when people touch your belongings without permission, etc.


This chart can help you set your benchmark to evaluate if someone might have overstepped your boundaries. Continue to contemplate and become aware of your reactions to update your chart until your limits are clear.


  1. Be assertive.


After you have defined your boundaries, be firm with them. You also need to make others aware of your limits when they seem to have overstepped them. Being direct to the person. Asserting yourself calmly and collectively can help in establishing the awareness and sensitivity of others. Assertiveness may be a little scary at first, especially if you are not used to doing so. But, if you start with minor concerns, you can practice how to address them accordingly and, at the same time, build up your asserting skill.


For instance, what do you do when the waiter gets your order wrong? How do you assert yourself? Ask them to repeat your order.


How will you raise your concern if they give you the wrong change? Speak up and ask them to do the necessary correction.


How do you stop a persistent suitor with whom you’re not interested? Explain to the person why you are not ready for them and advise them not to further pursue.


What do you do if your colleague makes you do their supposed task? Be honest and tell them that you are not the expert for that task, that it is outside the scope of your job and maybe direct them to someone who can help them.


If your friend did something hurtful to you, do you just let it pass? Invite them over lunch and tell them calmly how their action affected you.


  1. Keep your focus.


Coming from a place of being a people-pleaser, it is quite a battle within yourself because you are afraid of being perceived as mean or rude. Affirming your boundaries is not burning bridges with others; it is just valuing yourself and that being selfless does not mean disregarding your feelings and self-worth. You just want to set limits to watch over your emotions, be honest, and build relationships based on kindness, love, peace, respect, and dignity. Focus on building that courage to stand up for yourself and the courage to rebuke others lovingly.


  1. If all else fails, ignore correspondence


Closure in relationships also brings issues of boundaries. When others still insist on making contact and saying things even though you are no longer in a relationship with them is another example of disrespecting boundaries. To avoid this, make sure you have tied loose ends so you can tell yourself you have done what you can and are ready to move on. But if they still insist to the point of doing things you are not comfortable with anymore, you may want to consider disconnecting the communication—in other words, ignore them. Remind yourself that you do not owe that person anything and that no one should make you feel uncomfortable or take your space away.

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