When someone tells you that you need to set a boundary, it can be overwhelming. You might wonder how to do it, or why you should do it. But boundaries are an important part of being human and healthy! They allow us to live our lives in a way that makes sense for us, and not for anyone else. Having boundaries means knowing what we want—and don’t want—from others and the world at large. It means learning how to love ourselves first so we can share that love with others in meaningful ways instead of just being used as a doormat by everyone involved (which is not fun). But what do boundaries sound like?
Setting boundaries is a skill that everyone needs. It’s something that comes with time and experience, but it’s also something you can learn. In this post, I’ll discuss what boundaries are, what do boundaries sound like, why you should love yourself enough to set boundaries, why it’s important to set them up with yourself and others, and how to communicate them effectively. So read on!
What are boundaries?
Boundaries are a way of saying what you will and won’t do. They help people avoid getting into situations where they might get hurt, taken advantage of, or abused.
Boundaries are important for everyone because we all want to be treated with respect and fairness by others. But boundaries are especially important for children and teens because they need extra support in learning how to make smart decisions about their lives—especially when it comes to their bodies and their feelings (and those things can sometimes be really hard to figure out).
What Do Boundaries Sound Like?
Boundaries are important. Boundaries let you know where you end and others begin. They let you know that others can’t come into your space without permission; they let you know that it’s okay to ask for what you want; and they let others know when they’ve crossed over a line with you.
But what do boundaries sound like? It’s not always easy to know how to express your needs in a way that other people understand them. Here are some examples:
- “I don’t feel comfortable with this conversation right now, but I’m glad we had it! Let’s talk again next week.”
- “I want us to spend time together, but I need some space today.”
- “I don’t think it’s okay for me to borrow money from you anymore.”
- “Can we not talk about this topic?”
Why should you set up boundaries?
You should set up boundaries because:
- You want to protect yourself.
- You want to protect others.
- You want to protect your time, energy, emotions, finances and health.
- You want to protect your relationships with family members and friends.
- You want to keep your self-esteem intact.
And last but not least, it’s important for you to maintain your sanity as well!
You can’t really respect others if you don’t respect yourself
Love yourself enough to set boundaries. It’s important to have boundaries because they help you know what your limits are. You can’t really respect others if you don’t respect yourself. Respecting yourself is the first step towards respecting others because it means being self-aware, which allows you to recognize when someone else’s actions are affecting you or your space. Your boundaries should also be based on logic and not emotion; for example, if a friend asks to borrow something that belongs to another friend without asking them first, this should not make you uncomfortable because it doesn’t affect your personal property—that kind of thing would be an emotional boundary (an example of an emotional boundary would be if someone offered their seat on public transportation only if there were two available instead of one). But when it comes down to it, respecting yourself is about personal responsibility for how comfortable or unsafe our lives feel in any given moment at home/work/school.
Boundaries mean knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing, and not allowing others to make you feel bad about it because they can’t understand your intentions.
When you’re doing something that isn’t in line with your values, it can be hard to explain why. You might do it because someone else asked you to, or because you were afraid of what would happen if you said no. Or maybe it was just easier than the alternative.
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter if other people don’t get why we did something—or even if they think our reasons are stupid. It’s important that we know why we do what we do, even if other people don’t understand or agree with us.
For example: Suppose someone asks for your help at work on a weekend morning when your spouse is expecting company for brunch (and since this person is one of your closest friends at work, she could easily ask another coworker). The first thing that comes into your mind is “I’ll have to call my wife and cancel.” But then another voice pipes up: “No way am I going to let some guy ruin our plans!” And then there’s yet another voice within: “My friend really wants my help—I should listen.” Which voice wins out? If all three are arguing inside of your head at once, which one takes charge?
Boundaries mean having courage
Boundaries mean having the courage to walk away from people who aren’t good for you, even if it hurts.
Boundaries mean knowing what your values are, and living according to them at all times.
Boundaries mean speaking up when someone says something offensive or inappropriate.
It means having a strong sense of self-worth so that no one can make you feel bad about yourself, even though they may try!
Boundaries mean following your values and morals
Boundaries mean following your values and morals regardless of what society says, even if it makes you a target for criticism or judgment.
For example, let’s say that you’re a Christian who believes in love and kindness above all else. You may find yourself facing criticism or judgment from people who don’t share your beliefs, but this doesn’t mean that you should bend to their opinions. In fact, doing so would be going against the very core of who you are—and therefore setting a boundary.
You can’t please everyone all the time, so it’s important to set firm boundaries with anyone whose behavior is harmful or hurtful to others around them (including themselves). It’s also important to stand up for yourself when faced with such behavior so as not to become complicit in someone else’s actions if they’re harmful towards others.
Boundaries are a lot like non-negotiables
Boundaries mean knowing your non-negotiables and not compromising on them, even if it means turning down great opportunities or leaving behind relationships that could be beneficial in some way.
What do you value in life and relationships? What can’t you stand to have happen? Boundaries are about knowing and living by the answer to these questions.
So what does this look like? An example would be when someone says something offensive, then tries to excuse themselves by saying “I didn’t mean it that way!” This may be true, but if it’s not okay with them, then it’s not okay with anyone else. If it makes someone uncomfortable—even if they’re trying to make themselves more comfortable—it needs to stop immediately because that’s their non-negotiable: their feelings are always valid and should never be discounted or dismissed by others (or even yourself).
Love yourself enough to set boundaries
Love yourself enough to set boundaries with those who don’t value your kind heart and gentle spirit.
You deserve to be treated well, but you also deserve to set boundaries with those who don’t treat you well. You are a good person regardless of what other people say or do, and when someone doesn’t value your kind heart and gentle spirit, it is okay—even healthy—to draw the line.
It is okay to set boundaries with those who do not support you. It is okay to set boundaries with those who don’t understand you. If someone in your life doesn’t respect how much effort it takes for a person like yourself (or anyone) to get through every day with their head held high despite all odds being stacked against them, then that person does not deserve your time or energy.
You can’t communicate with others if you can’t communicate with yourself
When you’re able to communicate clearly with yourself, you can better communicate with others. And vice versa: if you can’t even talk with yourself about your own needs and wants, how will you be able to explain those things to someone else?
I have seen patterns of behavior where people are unable to tell themselves what they want or need, so they end up getting into unsatisfying relationships (romantic or otherwise). Or they do not know how much time and energy they have for work versus personal life. Or they haven’t had the opportunity or willingness to learn their limits when it comes to alcohol consumption at parties and social gatherings.
Even though this book is about boundaries between yourself and other people, remember that being able to set boundaries first requires setting a clear boundary between yourself and your inner critic—and that often means learning how not only what feels good but also what feels right as far as self-talk goes.
You always have the right to say “no.”
You always have the right to say “no.” You can say no to anything you don’t want to do or anyone who tries to make you feel bad about yourself. You can also say no when someone tries to make you feel guilty, scared, or like you owe them something. People might try and make it seem like saying “no” isn’t an option, but that’s not true! No matter what they say or how they act, your answer is still yes. So if someone tells me I need new clothes because my old ones are too small…I’ll tell them “no thanks” and keep wearing my favorite shirt until it falls apart on its own (which will be soon). And if a boss asks me if I’d rather work overtime or get fired from my job…I’ll tell them “thank you for the offer but I’d prefer not working here anymore”
When someone shows you who they are, believe them
If someone shows you who they are, believe them. If a person disrespects you in the smallest way, it’s because that is their true nature. Whether it’s an insult, a tease or a put-down—if someone does not respect your boundaries and continues to cross them despite warnings from you, then this person is not worth your time or energy. Even if they love you—they’re not worthy of your love until they learn respect for themselves and others around them.
You’re allowed to say “yes” to things that make you happy
You’re allowed to say “yes” to things that make you happy. You’re also allowed to say “no” to things that make you unhappy, uncomfortable, guilty, or scared. It’s your choice. And it’s okay if someone is upset with you for saying no—that doesn’t mean they have the right to take away your choice of saying no or not giving them a reason why.
In fact, sometimes people may even be mad because they don’t think they have the right not have their feelings hurt by what we say or do! You can explain that this is one area where their feelings don’t matter (like when I tell my kid she can’t eat candy before dinner).
If you don’t learn how to set boundaries, you’ll keep finding yourself in unhealthy situations
You can’t always avoid a negative situation, but you can learn how to respond to it by setting boundaries. When you set boundaries, it means that you will not tolerate certain behaviors or attitudes from other people in your life, and distance yourself from those who disrespect you.
If someone is doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable or afraid, for example, setting a boundary is saying “I don’t like this and I don’t want it.” If someone keeps pushing against these limits and making demands on your time and attention—even though they’ve already been told this behavior is hurtful—setting more firm limits might be necessary so they understand what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.
If someone has hurt your feelings by saying something mean-spirited or cruel (or even just neglectful) about another person or group of people with whom they know full well that such comments would upset their friend/acquaintance/co-worker/etc., then setting up clear boundaries around those topics of conversation may help both parties feel safer during interactions moving forward.
The difference between setting boundaries and being controlling
Setting boundaries and being controlling are two different things. It’s really important to know the difference between them, because if you don’t, you could end up doing something that hurts your relationship without even realizing it.
Setting boundaries is about setting limits for yourself, and respecting other people’s limits as well. You may have a limit on how often you want to see your friend, or how much you’re willing to spend on presents for your mom. Or maybe it’s something more abstract—like setting a limit on how much time you’re going to spend checking your phone each day.
In every case, setting a boundary means making a conscious decision about what’s acceptable for yourself, and then honoring that decision with action. When we set boundaries, we’re saying “this is what I can do” or “this is what I won’t do.”
Controlling behavior is just the opposite: it involves trying to control other people’s behavior so they’ll do what you want them to do without thinking about it themselves. This kind of behavior usually comes from insecurity—we think if we can make sure everyone else behaves like we would like them to behave all the time instead of letting them make their own choices about their lives.
What Do Boundaries Sound Like? Boundaries are like the walls of a house. They keep you safe, and they help you feel confident in your space. But what do boundaries sound like? How do they make you feel? Here’s a sample: “I’m not sure if I’m ready to date right now.”, “I need some time to myself.”, “That hurt my feelings.”, “I don’t think this is going to work out.”
Boundaries are the glue that holds our relationships together. And they’re made up of words—specifically, words that are powerful enough to say what we need and want without being too pushy or aggressive or selfish. Boundaries help us take care of ourselves while staying connected with other people.
Love yourself enough to set boundaries. It’s okay to have boundaries. It’s okay to say no sometimes, and it’s okay to put your needs first. It can be scary, but you have to know that these are things you deserve—things everyone deserves! You deserve happiness and fulfillment in all aspects of life, not just when it comes to romance or relationships. Set the example for others by showing them how important it is for us all to love ourselves enough so that our lives are worth living.
You have to be okay with saying no, and when someone shows you who they are, believe them. If you don’t learn how to set boundaries, you’ll keep finding yourself in unhealthy situations. You have the right to say “no” anytime a situation makes you uncomfortable or unhappy. Setting up boundaries is about respecting yourself first so that others can respect you too!