Updated: Mar 9
If you’re anything like me, you failed miserably at the whole “setting boundaries” thing throughout your life. It honestly wasn’t until I got pregnant that I went on a spree of creating boundaries with everyone in my life. It was the first time that I solely focused on me and my well-being for more than a week.
I was so good at putting everyone before myself up until the day I found out I was pregnant. Literally, put everyone before me. I always thought I had such a talent for helping everyone else level up in their lives whether it be in their careers, mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. I thought maybe I had a future in being a life coach since I was so good at it. In all reality, it was just me giving everyone the attention and advice I couldn’t give to myself.
You’re probably asking why I couldn’t give it to myself… Well, I thought I was more worthy to others if I could prove it to them through actions. I was needed if I gave them something to need, right? Well, becoming a mom changed that thank God.
Setting boundaries with people in your life regardless of their place in your life is crucial from day one. These boundaries help with less anxiety and stress, less conflict, higher self-esteem, more compassion, and also, it allows for your needs to be met. On a deeper level though, it allows expectations to be kept at a very reasonable level.
Without boundaries, we subconsciously, or consciously, have expectations that most people can not and should not fill. We expect people to be on call 24/7. We expect people to know what we’re thinking and deliver on our unspoken needs. There is an expectation of unrelenting loyalty, and the list goes on.
This isn’t healthy for anyone, so how do you properly set boundaries without apologizing for it? Keep reading…
1. Be Direct
Stop sugarcoating and being afraid of how people will respond when you set a boundary. That is the exact thing we are trying to eradicate, putting others emotions before our own. Protecting others before protecting ourselves. If someone responds negatively towards you setting a healthy boundary, that says a lot more about what they need to work on and what they have yet to heal from than it does you.
So, politely and confidently let others know where you stand and what doesn’t fly. Be assertive without being aggressive, and communicate effectively. Do not set a boundary with an insult or by placing blame, but rationally explain what is bothering you and how that person can improve their interaction with you moving forward. It helps to use “I” statements and by making a request. Be sure you have a consequence that is fair and appropriate and then follow through, if the other person can not meet your request.
2. Stop Feeling Guilty
I think as women, we are so used to being made to feel guilty for making requests or for standing up for ourselves. Instead of it being “self-preservation” it is always deemed as being “difficult” or “sensitive” or “dramatic”. But honey, we are boss bitches up in here, up in here, and I am not about to lose my mind like Joe Budden says simply because I as a human feel some type of way and am allowing you to fix it. Setting a boundary is not only doing yourself a favor, but it is doing the other person a favor as well.
You care enough to give that person a fair shot at being a mature adult instead of kicking them to the curb. So change your frame of mind from feeling like you need to be guilty for setting a boundary. Instead, focus on how you are helping the other person mature and grow into understanding no two relationships are the same and people are unique in their needs.
3. Learn to Say No
I love the word “no”. So does my daughter… But it’s fantastic. Short, simple, and holds the deepest weight in meaning. Many of my mentors have constantly had to ingrain in me that I don’t owe anyone anything, and the same goes for you. “No” is a complete sentence and you never have to elaborate or explain yourself. No means no. If you have a hard time saying no, then start small but make sure you stand your ground and don’t falter. The minute you crack other people sense it and see an opportunity to change your mind or manipulate you. Say and it and mean it.
4. Let Others Take Care of Themselves
Stop being the saint. Stop being the caretaker. Stop being available all the time. Enabling codependency in others only does them a disservice. Allow others to find their own strength and learn how to provide for themselves. If they ain’t your kid, then you ain’t their mama! Give other people the responsibility back of being their own provider, it is the healthiest thing you could do for not only them but yourself.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of Detachment
Sometimes when it comes time to set boundaries within a relationship in your life, the best way to go about it is to detach yourself from that relationship for a little. This takes all emotional ties off the table and keeps things a little more black and white. Boundaries are a form of self-care. Detach from the others’ perceived emotions or hurt and just accept that you are doing for you what only you are capable of doing. Stop being the fixer for everyone else and start being your own handyman.
6. Don’t Apologize!
Never apologize for setting a healthy boundary with someone and never apologize for putting yourself first! At the end of the day you are all you have and you are the only one you can 100% count on all of the time. Your relationship with yourself is the most important one. If you are not honoring your feelings and needs, than you have a lot of introspective work to accomplish.
7. Don’t Take Offense
If you are on the receiving end of someone setting a boundary, please don’t take it personally and get offensive. Understand that we are all just trying to do our best and protect ourselves from anything that may cause discomfort, stress, or anxiety into our lives. Understand that you are not the problem but maybe a specific action or behavior is and those can be adjusted and changed. Accept boundaries with grace and always be receptive to growing and evolving as a human.
Sometimes people need reminders and things don’t change overnight, so don’t get annoyed or hurt if a boundary needs to be repeated to someone. Simply recall the conversation you had and reiterate your needs. Habits are hard to change and that’s essentially what setting a boundary is. It’s changing a behavioral habit.
Reclaim your sanity. If something needs to change, change it. Set those boundaries and start to put yourself first. We are too great to let others take advantage of that. YOU take advantage of your greatness and proceed with ambition.
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