How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationships
Parents! In-Laws! Spouses! Bosses! Kids! Exes! We have a million people to please on a daily basis, and it's no simple task to manage all the demands and take care of our own needs at the same time. But believe it or not, we can do something about it—it's called setting boundaries. "Boundaries are essential in every relationship," says Dr. Aziz Gazipura, clinical psychologist and author of Not Nice. "Without boundaries you may end up feeling burnt out and resentful," he says. Of course, it can feel super uncomfortable to tell the people you care about to back off, so we enlisted the experts to tell us how to tactfully set healthy personal boundaries (without setting fires).
Don't feel guilty.
"Most nice people are afraid of upsetting others and being perceived as rude, mean or selfish," says Gazipura who points out that our fear of disapproval is the core reason many of us have difficulties setting boundaries. Nancy Levin, life coach and author of the upcoming book, Setting Boundaries Will Set You Free agrees: We often say "yes," when we should be saying "no" because we are concerned that we will hurt someone's feelings. "It's our fear that keeps us in the people-pleasing, over-giving mode," explains Levin. But the best way out of fear is through it, according to Gazipura who notes that once we take the risk of setting a boundary, we will find that people won't react in anger. "Most people actually care about what you want," says Gazipura.
Start by making a request.
Levin says setting a boundary consists of two clear parts: a request and, if necessary, a declaration of intention. Start by stating clearly what is acceptable and what is unacceptable to you—this is the request. For example, say to your partner, "When your brother makes inappropriate comments, I feel angry and uncomfortable. I don't want to see him socially except at family gatherings. Does this work for you?"
Then state the consequence.
If the other party is unable to meet your request, the next step is to take care of yourself, says Levin. "This is when you let the person know how you're going to handle the situation," she says, stressing that it's important to have a back up plan in place before you make your boundary request. So, in keeping with the example above, if your spouse will not meet your needs, despite your concerns, you may respond, "Since you still want to see your brother socially, I will simply make other plans when you two go out."
Now be prepared to follow through.
"Do not set boundaries you aren't willing to enforce," says Sunny Joy McMillan, certified life coach and author of Unhitched: Unlock Your Courage and Clarity to Unstick Your Bad Marriage. If there is no accountability, then the boundary is basically non-existent. Keep in mind, this is not your way of controlling other people, instead, says McMillan, "it is a way to honor and protect your own physical, emotional and energetic space."
Read the full story here: How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationships