How to set boundaries

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Boundaries

Learning to set boundaries usually comes after stepping the line, whether that step was made by you or someone else. It’s made you question yourself. It’s a long overdue wake-up call. It’s a ‘let me take a second to get myself together and reassess myself and my worth’ eureka feeling.

But, when you’re feeling low in confidence it can be really tricky to know what aspects of your life you should be switching up. Being unsure of what to do, when you aren’t even sure of yourself at the moment, isn’t a great place to be.

Recognising when boundaries have been crossed is one thing, but doing something about it is completely different. Psychology Today clarify the broad categories that comprise boundary violations: verbal, psychological, emotional, and physical.

‘You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.’ – Unknown.

Types of potential boundary violations.

Verbal violations of boundaries include not allowing you to speak or be heard, raising their voice and/or screaming at you, saying things that are derogatory or inflammatory about your integrity and character, gossiping about you.

Psychological and emotional boundary violations include preying upon your sense of self and self-esteem, using what you’ve told them in confidence against you, lying to you, criticizing, demeaning, judging, or manipulating you, making fun of you, your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, trying to make you feel guilty or responsible for them or a situation.

Physical violations of boundaries include moving into your personal space, touching you without permission, being inappropriate or too familiar, especially sexually, (including sexual references and overtures), touching or handling things that belong to you, violating your privacy (cell phone, computer, social media contacts, personal records), damaging or destroying your personal property, threatening you with physical harm.

Think of your boundaries like a jigsaw, each aspect of your life whether that’s your job, your children, your partner, your friends, is a piece of the puzzle. When the pieces fit together in their correct order, a beautiful masterpiece is created. However, when the pieces are in the wrong places and they overlap, no matter how hard you try they won’t be forced where they are not needed. Setting boundaries is all about ensuring each piece of the jigsaw fits comfortably into their own space.

Piece Number One: Boundaries – Yourself.

The first piece of the jigsaw is yourself. You can’t start altering other pieces in your life when you’re not at one with your own mind first.

Ground yourself. Being stable will stop you from being blown around by other people’s winds. Make sure that regardless of any other drama’s that orbit your life, you can remain grounded and not get too caught up in it all. You can walk away, and know that you have given your advice, your love, your affection, your wisdom, and know when enough is enough. Always keep some stored in the tank for yourself. You need it more than you think.

Piece Number Two: Boundaries – Your Relationships

Recognise. Recognise who is draining your energy. Recognise how your boundaries have been crossed. Recognise how you need to set your boundary.

‘Being able to do this is absolutely vital because by being able to check in with ourselves and recognise how we are feeling then we have separated ourselves from the other person. The problem with many of us who have weak or leaky boundaries in relationships is that we become so enmeshed, so encompassed by the other person’s “stuff” that we have no idea what we ourselves are feeling. By taking the time to break away, reflect, and really check in with yourself, you are then consciously making the distinct difference between yourself and the other person.’ – Jennifer Twardowski, (6 Steps To Setting Boundaries In Relationships)

A key point to keep in mind when respecting your own boundaries in a relationship is that you can’t fix other people. So don’t try. It may feel like you are giving them love, attention and validation in the process, but the bottom line is they are not interested in becoming any other person than they already are. Focus that compassion on your own growth – it’s okay to be selfish in this sense.

It is easy to compromise in a relationship. But don’t let that stop you being your own boss. Remember, the choices you make have been made for a reason. You are allowed to change your mind, to have a strong opinion, to speak up and not feel guilty. Anyone who thinks differently isn’t worth your time.

Finally, don’t be scared to separate yourself from anyone who pushes this boundary. It can be difficult to walk away from relationships with so many memories, emotions and connections, but you must always have your worth at the forefront of your every waking thought. No one is going to back your corner like yourself. It can be a dark, lonely place when you’ve had to walk away from a relationship. But just know that you cannot welcome positive energy into your life and move forward if you don’t let go of what is dragging you down first.

Piece Number Three: Boundaries – Your Work Life.

When was the last time your 9 til’ 5 job was actually a nine until five job, where you were out the door at 5pm and didn’t have to think or associate with work until the next morning? When you respect your personal boundaries, others typically will, too. Remember that “you teach people how to treat you.” PschCentral has created 7 tips for setting boundaries at work:

  1. Know your values. 

By first knowing your values, you’re able to then set up systems that help you get those needs met, Wilding said.

  1. Communicate clearly. 

“Verbally tell them the hours you will be available for work-related conversations,” said Hanks, also author of The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide for Overwhelmed Women.

  1. Bring up a boundary or violation right away. 

It’s important to reinforce and exercise your boundary in the moment or very close to it. Because if you don’t, it simply loses its power.

  1. Create structure. 

Have an agenda, even if it’s a meeting between you and your manager. An agenda is more efficient, and positions you as a professional.

  1. Set boundaries at home. 

For instance, you check your emails before dinner, and then put away your devices so you can spend the rest of the evening with your family. It’s also important to have one day when you’re completely offline, so you can replenish your mental, emotional and spiritual reserves.

  1. Focus on concrete explanations. 

When you’re setting a boundary at work, it’s not necessarily productive to talk from your personal perspective. If your boss makes an unreasonable request, avoid statements such as “I’m really stressed” –  It sounds like it’s all about you, and like you’re whining.

  1. Prepare for violations. 

It’s helpful to visualise your boundaries getting crossed, and how you’re going to handle those situations. This way, when a moment like this comes up, you won’t be hijacked by your emotions. You’ll be able to handle it much more rationally.  

With all of this said, it is essential that you take care of yourself. It can be massively overwhelming trying to assert so much authority into your personal life. Go for a walk, exercise, relax. Anything to help yourself get re-centered. Anything to be a calmer you.