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How to Set Boundaries and Why Setting Them Is Important

How to Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries gives you control over your life and your time and protects you from manipulation and doing things you don’t want to do.

Setting boundaries means the ability to say ‘no’, to stop allowing people to exploit and manipulate you.

Acting in this way means that you respect your life and your interests and acknowledge that your own plans, goals, and tasks are also important.

This action allows you to find time for yourself and for the things you love doing instead of enslaving yourself to the whims and desires of other people.

You can set boundaries at work, with colleagues, in relationships, with family members, and in every other area of your life.

Setting boundaries in relation to other people, your family, friends, co-workers, and strangers protects you from unnecessary stress, anger, and resentment.

Do You Set Boundaries and Limits in Your Everyday Life?

  • How many times were you not able to say ‘NO’, to other people’s requests and whims?
  • Do you allow your coworkers to delegate their work to you, but you feel you cannot say ‘NO’?
  • Do you feel guilty and awkward when you say ‘NO’ to your children, friends, or the salesperson at the store?
  • How many times have you felt anger and frustration due to your inability to say ‘NO’ to others and say ‘YES’ to yourself?

If the above holds true for you, you need to learn to set boundaries. This becomes easier if you can display a certain degree of emotional detachment and calmness.

Acting in this way does not mean that you are uncaring and focused on yourself. It means respecting other people, but also respecting yourself, your priorities and your goals.

You can respect people and help them, yet be able to say ‘NO’ when this is the right thing to do.

Your inability to set limits to what people can ask you to do, to say ‘NO’, and to show inner strength can create a lot of resentment and unhappiness.

Why not try to inject a little dose of inner strength and confidence into your life and stop playing the role of a doormat?

“No is a complete sentence.” – Anne Lamont

Why Do You Need to Set Boundaries?

Personal boundaries are important because they set the guidelines of how you want to be treated. It is a declaration of your rights. Boundaries mean closing the door to what you do not want in your life.

Boundaries are guidelines that you establish, so people know what you allow and what you do not allow.

It’s a way to teach people how you wish to be treated and what kind of behavior is acceptable.

Setting boundaries is a way to protect your physical, emotional and mental well-being, to avoid stress, and keep away from other people’s negative thoughts and emotions.

The limits you impose by your words, behavior and reactions tell people what to expect from you.

Setting boundaries ensures that relations in any area of life can be mutually respectful, appropriate, and caring.

A boundary is a sort of a fence you set in order to protect your time and your well-being, which people should not pass. If you don’t set limits, you allow people to utilize your resources, spend your time, and make you do things you do not want to do.

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.” – Brene Brown

You might like reading: Setting boundaries quotes.

Learn to Say NO

You can be respectful and kind, and still say ‘NO’ to people.

You might feel inconvenient and awkward when you refuse a request. Don’t let this hold you from saying ‘NO’ when you feel it is the right thing to do.

Other people are important, but you too, and your time, are important.

Start saying ‘NO’ on some occasions, when you feel that people are exploiting you, when you have more important things to do, or when you really don’t have the time.

You might feel inconvenience to do so and some guilt. You might also feel that you will spoil relationship and make people become angry at you.

In most cases, people would respect you, if you are polite and kind toward them, and explain in a few short words why you cannot comply with their wish.

For more guidelines, read the article Learn How to Say No.

How to Set Boundaries

In what way can you set boundaries? How to set boundaries to protect your emotional and menial well-being? How to let people know what you accept and what you do not accept?

Here is some advice on how to set boundaries:

  • Use the word ‘NO’ when appropriate. There are times where you should cooperate and say ‘YES’. You need to use your common sense.
  • Always remember that your life, your plans and your goals are no less important than other’s people.
  • Set priorities and do your best to stick with them.
  • Avoid getting involved with people’s worries and negative thinking. You can help people without getting emotionally and mentally agitated by their stories. This is not insensitivity. This is wisdom and common sense.
  • Develop a certain degree of willpower and self-discipline. If you wish to increase your willpower and possess more self-discipline, I highly recommend that you study the book Build Up Willpower and Self Discipline.
  • Express yourself. If you do not accept a certain behavior, say so. If you do not agree with someone about something related to you, say so.
  • If someone wants something from you, but you are busy or have some other priorities, refuse, but do so politely.
  • Stop saying yes just because you feel the need to please others.
  • Practice being patient. Practice being calm, and do not react rashly, without thinking first.
  • Never accept too many tasks, beyond your ability.
  • Show some assertiveness to back up your decision to say ‘NO’, but remember to do so in a polite way. Assertiveness is not aggressiveness. These are two totally different things.

Emotional Detachment and Setting Boundaries

Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices. – Gerard Manley Hopkins

A certain degree of emotional detachment would give you the backbone and inner strength to say ‘NO’, and refuse to be emotionally manipulated.

It would help you set boundaries, so that agitating words and emotions do not disturb your state of mind.

It would make you immune to what people say or do, and enable you not to take personally what people say.

People respect those who set boundaries and have the courage to say ‘no’.

I would like to end this article with a few words about the importance of emotional detachment.

When referring to emotional detachment I am not talking about alienating yourself from people and breaking up communication. Not at all. I am referring to positive emotional detachment.

  1. This attitude and state of mind helps you stop taking personally what people say or do.
  2. It helps you protect your mental and emotional well-being.
  3. It creates a state of emotional and mental calmness and peace that protects you from negative feelings and negative thoughts.
  4. When built correctly, this skill, and it is a skill, enables to set boundaries easily and effortlessly, whenever it is necessary. It would be hard to manipulate you or play with your feelings.
  5. It would free you from the past and from emotional burdens and set you free from them.
  6. It would help you become unbiased, think clearly and with common sense, and therefore, be in a better position to see people’s motives.

All this of course, would put you in a better position to stop emotional and mental manipulation, doing things you do not want to do, and complying with whatever people ask or want you to do.

Conclusions about Setting Boundaries

  • Set limits to what people can ask you to do.
  • Be helpful and caring, but use common sense.
  • To set boundaries, be firm, but not aggressive.
  • Refuse to be manipulated.
  • Always remember that you and your time are important.
  • Setting healthy boundaries for work life and personal life is most important for avoiding stress and tension.
  • There is no need to set and maintain boundaries all the time, in all situations. Use your common in every situation.

Creating and setting boundaries, depending on the situation, is good for healthy relationships, mental health, and personal and emotional health.