Setting limits and boundaries can be confusing if we were not taught how to do this in our family of origin. They are critical to know about though because they are important for our mental, emotional and sometimes even physical health. This 5 step system for setting healthy boundaries is a formula that you can follow whether you need to set a hard line boundary in the case of abuse or addiction, or more subtle limits to help you remain comfortable living with your intimate partner, family, work colleagues or friends
How to Know If You Should Set a Boundary
If you feel angry, whiny, find yourself complaining or feeling resentment, then setting a boundary will help you move into an empowered place of peace. It will remove the pressure of wanting something you aren’t getting, because you can accept that while you may not get what you are hoping for, you still have options for how you can respond.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
1. Boundaries should be set free from anger or any attempts to control the other person.
They are about how you will respond and what you are willing to do. They are in no way, shape or form about trying to control another person. For instance, “If the kitchen counter is not left clean when you are finished using it, I will not cook because I need a clean space to prepare food”.
2. Use as few words as possible.
Going into a lengthy explanation of why you chose to set a boundary, how you feel about having to set one or any other details will just confuse the situation. While you might want to explain how you feel justified, there is no need to explain the decisions you make in your own best interest. Simply set the boundary and move on.
3. Make sure you can follow through on whatever boundary you set.
Otherwise people will not believe you are serious and then you will wind up feeling additionally angry, upset or resentful. It is helpful to consider your options and think about what boundary you are going to set and make sure you will be comfortable following through on it.
4. Make the boundary fair.
For example saying, “If you continue to leave wet towels on the floor I am going to throw all the towels away” is pretty harsh and extreme. On the other hand saying, “If you continue to leave wet towels on the floor, I will put the towels somewhere inconvenient because it is inconvenient for me to have to pick up after you.”
5. Realize even the fairest sounding boundary might be met with resistance.
Setting a boundary about your own personal decision is for you. There is simply no way to simultaneously set self-limits and be a caretaker to someone else’s feelings. If you are loving and fair in how you set the boundary, that is all you need to worry about.
This 5 step system for setting healthy boundaries is a formula that can be used to set any level of boundaries. Remember they are about keeping you healthy, not to be controlling or mean. If you need support in setting boundaries, contact me anytime.