Boundaries help us define who we are and provides us with a definite sense of self. People who learn how to set personal boundaries thrive because they are able to create a level of personal control within their lives. Whereas people that are unable to set personal boundaries tend to be stressed and overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time to do the things that they enjoy.
While setting boundaries and learning to say no is an ideal opportunity to gain a sense of self, it also helps us to rediscover who we are, identify our personal values, and learn what’s important to us. Most people have a hard time setting personal boundaries, particularly within their relationships. And, while there are various reasons why people struggle to set personal boundaries the main reason is simply that most people have a hard time saying the word NO. Inevitably, until you set personal boundaries and learn to say no, the quality of your life — particularly your romantic, platonic, family, and professional relationships, will suffer.
There are several reasons to set personal boundaries. One reason in particular is to boost your self-esteem. Self-esteem refers to how we think and feel about ourselves. Therefore a boost in your self-esteem will not only make you feel good, but also give you a healthy sense of control in your life. A healthy self-esteem will also give you the right to have an equal footing in your relationships because you will be capable of conveying what you do and do not want from your partner.
How To Begin
One way to begin setting personal boundaries within your relationships is to reflect on your past relationship experiences. Perhaps you can begin by making a list of the things that went wrong and the things that went right. By doing this you will have better insight as to what things worked for you and what things worked against you.
We’re likely to find that most, if not all, of what we did not want to happen, happened because we compromised our personal boundaries. Keep in mind, this process should not be rushed, thus allowing for time to identify the unhealthy pattern of your behaviors when it comes to relationships.
After identifying the unhealthy boundaries make a new list of healthy boundaries. Then, take the knowledge gained from your past relationship experiences to illicit the positive changes you want to see . Lastly, decide whether any new boundaries should be added to your list, including those for online dating habits or choosing the right partner.
Feel Good Now
Following a list of healthy boundaries takes time to consider the exact things that make you, and ONLY YOU feel good. In spite of how this may sound, this is not being self-centered or selfish. In fact, unless you learn to love and respect yourself, you will not be capable of contributing love and happiness to others. In a healthy relationship happiness begins and ends with SELF. Therefore the more you learn to love who you are as an individual, the more you will attract others who are willing to do the same.
Lastly, setting personal boundaries requires that you be open to share and communicate your boundaries to others. Whether you are dealing with a family, platonic, professional and or romantic partner, sharing your boundaries will help you feel respected and safe in your relationships. It is particularly important to do this before you encounter problems, and so that each person in the relationship is on the same page.
If you do not discuss your personal boundaries, and just sweep it under the rug without it being dealt with, surely problems will arise. On the other hand, conveying your personal boundaries demonstrates integrity, and promotes an opportunity to create more intimacy within the relationship.
To conclude: In order to create and sustain a healthy relationship we must set healthy boundaries. Yes, a relationship must have some compromise. However not at the sake of compromising one’s SELF. When we learn to say “No” more often, or just learn to say “Yes” on our terms, we free ourselves from the burden of pleasing others, and this in itself allows us to have more time and freedom to do what we feel matters most.
Collette Gee is a Relationship and Violence Prevention Specialist and the author of an innovative book on relationships called, “Finding Happily…No Rules, No Frogs, No Pretending,” (available on Amazon). Through workshops, coaching programs and services, Collette provides a positive and educational approach about healthy relationships. Her passion for social justice and healthy relationships has given her a powerful foundation to spread her message; “Finding Happily is not an ending, it is a journey.” Her mission is to teach men and women how to live successfully and harmoniously.
This article was originally published on Huffinton Post, and has been republished here with the author, Collette Gee’s permission.