The Process for Setting Boundaries
Updated: Feb 27, 2019
Read on to learn about boundaries and their importance. This post contains affiliate links to books that are useful for learning about boundaries.
In my first real-life relationship in college, I consistently felt resentful. Everything seemed to be about my boyfriend and worked best for him. From the dinner reservations to the time of day we would see each other, it always seemed like what he wanted mattered most.
By default, I blamed him - In my brain, I made it his fault that my needs weren't met. I was resentful, but never told him and scarcely felt happy and peaceful in the relationship.
What was the real-life problem? I had NO boundaries. I would venture to say he had ZERO clue as to what I liked and didn't like (not his fault) and how those things made me feel.... because I never told him in fear that if it wasn't about him, he wouldn't like me.
If you've ever felt like this before, you're not alone.
Boundaries are difficult because they're about you -- they're about your core values, what you like and don't like, your personal needs, and how you feel. They're also difficult because they're your responsibility.
Before we can talk about how to implement boundaries with other people, we have to talk about the process it takes to set them. Let's check out the graphic organizer (#IamaNerd) below.
1. Core values are the basis for pretty much everything in your life -- they're also the basis for setting boundaries with yourself and others.
Your thoughts, actions and everything in between all stem from your core. In order to have a better understanding of what you need from yourself and others, you have to know what you value.
Boundaries with Yourself
2. I tried to set boundaries with others BEFORE I set them with myself. What was the outcome? I ended up trying to control other's behavior instead of my own.
Setting boundaries with yourself means taking ownership of your own thoughts, actions, values, talents, character, etc. Practically speaking, this can look like taking the steps needed to grow EVEN IF the other people in your life aren't; shifting the way you speak to yourself; taking care of yourself and validating your own needs; and separating your own actions from your behavior. Creating boundaries for yourself will look different for each person, but the main idea here is taking full ownership of who you are and who you want to be.
Boundaries with Others
3. After you take the steps to learn about your core values, then learn how to make boundaries for yourself, you can begin to set boundaries with others.
Boundaries with others is about what you are willing and not willing to accept from people. It's about what you like and don't like, what goes with your values or what works against them. Creating boundaries is about keeping you safe from all the things that could be harmful and preserving your peace.
There's 1 key factor to implementing boundaries: it's your personal responsibility to enforce them. It's not realistic or reasonable to except others to keep the boundaries you set.
Think of boundaries like a fence: a fence protects your yard, garden and home from things you don't want inside... like your neighbors dog (#majorshade). It's not the dogs job to stay out -- it's your responsibility to make sure you take the proper precautions to protect your home and yard from the dog.
I remember I used to feel bad for setting boundaries, namely because I was unsure of what I valued, what I liked and didn't like and wanting acceptance from others.