And how to stick to them
Are you a people pleaser? Do you have a hard time asking for what you want or confronting someone who let you down?
Many of us find it difficult to cut ties and walk away from an unhealthy situation – even when it’s in our best interest. We stay in bad relationships because of the fear of starting over. We let those rude comments from our coworker slide because we’re not fans of confrontation. But for each day that passes that we don’t take action, the frustration continues to eat away at us.
While we can walk away from toxic romantic relationships, there are some people such as coworkers or family members that you just have to deal with. In these circumstances, there is no easy way to cut ties, so you have to find a way to set healthy boundaries.
1. Truly believe what you’re saying.
Think about it: if you don’t take yourself seriously, how can you expect anyone else to? The first step to setting boundaries is to personally validate your own feelings and forget about everyone else’s opinions. Asking other people for advice can often be more confusing because you could get 10 different answers, leaving you worse off than when you started.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How do I feel?
- What do I want?
- How can I make that happen?
Let’s say you are getting bullied at work and your coworker is condescending on a regular basis. How does that make you feel? Disrespected? Angry?
What do you want to do about it? Express how you’re feeling and get them to stop, right?
2. Push through the fear.
Now, when you think about how to express your feelings and get the behavior to stop, this is usually the step that gets people stuck and when the fear and insecurity start to take over.
That’s why it’s important to believe what you are say is true on a deep level. There is no doubt in your mind that you are being disrespected. You know you deserve to be treated better. When you can get to this mentally strong place, you are less likely to go back on your word. You will be able to set boundaries and stick to them.
Dr Shawn Meghan Burn, Professor of Psychology at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, recommends saying these positive affirmations when you feel fear or self-doubt taking over:
- “It’s their right to be displeased with my boundary but it’s my right to set limits around what I will and won’t do. After all, it’s my money, time, and effort.”
- “Their anger or displeasure is unfortunate and I wish it weren’t so, but I can handle it, and they’ll probably get over it.”
- “I didn’t make this decision lightly and it’s the right thing for me to do even if it’s hard. I know the status quo can’t continue.”
- “I’m not a bad or unhelpful person for setting this boundary. Being a good, helpful person sometimes means setting boundaries.”
- “I hope they’ll manage without my help but if they don’t, it’s their choice, not my fault.”
Think about how good it will feel when you finally speak up. Think about how proud you will be of yourself. Now, hold on to that feeling. It’s that feeling that will propel you forward and move you past the fear.
3. Do it again and again.
Our habits, both good and bad, become ingrained in our brains through repetition. If setting boundaries is a habit you want to create, you must keep practicing until the behavior becomes second nature.
When you learn or experience something new, neurons join together to build new synaptic connections, which literally rewires you. Through your senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing, you mentally record all the information, and when you remember something, you maintain or sustain those synaptic connections. Then, that fact or idea gets stored as memory in the brain. This newly learned thought remains there until another experience either strengthens or alters it.
“Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect,” according to Margarita Tartakovsky, MS. “So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.”