Setting boundaries for growth and protection of self

Boundaries are imaginary lines we establish around ourselves to protect our souls, hearts and minds from the unhealthy, draining and damaging behavior of others.

Setting strong boundaries allows you to be your best, feel great about yourself and frees up tremendous energy.

When you have weak or even no protective boundaries many people will treat you as a doormat or target for their own negative feelings. This can be from merely irritating to even violence. People may feel unworthy, unloved and a diminished sense of self as a result.

This is what happens when an important relationship turns emotionally, mentally, and even physically abusive. Your emotional and physical health is at stake when this goes on without stopping the behaviour by setting protective personal boundaries.

Other relationships such as with a co-worker, friend, doctor or others can also diminish your feelings of self-worth making it difficult or impossible to get your needs met.

In our society we are often told to be givers, making others more important than ourselves. Women are often more prone to this attitude and as such over time a woman loses her sense of self, putting aside her own dreams so that others get their wants met. By doing so you feel hurt, angry, resentful and eventually hopeless. This usually takes place gradually so that over time you feel this as normal.

How to Set Boundaries
Start by paying attention to how you feel when you are with a person. Unless you feel good about yourself and feel cared about after talking to or spending time with that person, then that person is violating an important boundary.

When you have strong, healthy boundaries you:

  • Have more energy
  • Are treated with respect
  • Are more attractive to emotionally healthy people

When you have weak boundaries you:

  • Feel drained a lot of the time
  • Attract needy, disrespectful users into your life
  • Have less fun
  • Feel resentful

Conditions of Having Strong Boundaries

  • Understand that you need to dramatically extend your boundaries.
  • Be willing to educate others on how to respect you and your new boundaries.
  • Be relentless in insisting that your boundaries are always honoured.
  • Make a list of at least 10 things that people may no longer say or do to you.
  • Demand that no one makes deprecating remarks, criticizes, makes fun, is sarcastic… No matter who or what the situation is!
  • Reward and thank those who respect your boundaries

Six Ways to Set Boundaries

  • INFORM: "I do not like that tone of voice."
  • REQUEST: "I am asking that you stop being sarcastic."
  • INSTRUCT: "Do not touch me when you are angry."
  • WARN: "If you do that again I will...."
  • ATTACK: "STOP that right now!"
  • LEAVE: "You may not behave this way around me. If you wish to discuss this at another time, I am open. Now I am leaving."

Set boundaries because you KNOW you have better things to do than tolerate what’s coming at you from this person or situation. At first it may feel clumsy or pushy but setting boundaries becomes easier with each one you set.

You deserve to be treated with great respect.

By your example of setting your own clear boundaries others will learn to do this for themselves. Be sure when setting boundaries that it is done not as venting anger but as a way to love yourself. It is best to approach this issue when you are calm and are very clear what you will and will not allow this person to do in your presence.

By being consistent your boundaries become automatic. People in your life and around you will be respectful without you having to tell them to be. You will project yourself as someone not to be messed with.

When you start informing others of your boundaries expect some resistance. Some, especially your children, may get worse at first until they see you mean their unacceptable words or behaviours will no longer be tolerated. So you will need to set consequences in place for infractions.

You may have had so weak or no boundaries at all that you need to start looking at how you are treated. If someone is treating you in a way that you would not treat another, then you know you need to set a boundary with that person.

Having clear boundaries not only gives you more energy and respect from others you will attract only those people into your life who will respect you and also have clear boundaries and self respect themselves. People with low self-esteem tend to drain relationships and be less than respectful of others.

Finally, clear, strong boundaries are healthy for your mind, body and spirit. Allowing anyone to violate what is life affirming for you drains the joy from your life.

Ms. Lee Wulff


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