You cannot be a happy, healthy, successful person without boundaries. Healthy boundaries give us healthy relationships, healthy self-esteem and healthy well-being.
If you've been afraid that people won't like you if you set a boundary, you may have become the victim of a lot of people who have no sense of boundaries. Usually people with weak boundaries become targets of boundary crashers...those who would sail over your boundaries even if you had them.
You have to know that there are a lot of people who can and will take advantage of weak boundaries. Having strong boundaries will let these people know to look elsewhere. Having strong boundaries does not make you mean or bad or any other label that people will put on you if they resent your boundaries. Having strong boundaries makes you attractive to healthy people who like knowing where you stand. Having strong boundaries will weed out unhealthy people.
The Five Rules of Good Boundary Setting:
1. BOUNDARIES are not about being nasty, mean or rude. Boundaries simply recognize that you end one place and I end somewhere else. All good boundaries do that.You can't worry that people will think you are being mean or "not nice." It’s not a matter of not being a nice person any more. It’s just a matter of getting “tough enough” so that people aren’t walking on you, so that you’re not suppressing your true feelings and so that you’re not “playing nice” just for a chance to play.If anyone deserves boundaries, it’s the nice people of the world.
2. Boundary setting happens calmly, using "I" statements. Not by becoming moody or so irritated you start to snap people's heads off. If you have a friend who is always late when you have plans to go somewhere, you may find youself blowing up at her in frustration. Instead, you can say, "I would appreciate it if you are here on time. Otherwise I'll have to go ahead without you." She may push back, but prepare to do exactly that the next time she is late. The behavior will stop.
3. Learn to recognize manipulation and subtle "put down" messages designed to get you to do something you may not want to do. Think about a statement such as, "I would do that for you." It's full of manipulation and subtle messages of "you're not AS GOOD as me" and it's a passive-aggressive way to GET the speaker his or her own way. It's not about what is good for YOU or what YOU would do, it's about what he or she wants YOU to do and the guilt-inducing manipulation is intense. There are FOUR MILLION variations of this but one answer: Good for you. That's YOU, that's not ME. Thank you for playing.
4. You cannot pick and choose who to have boundaries with. You have to have them with everyone even if some are harder than others. You have to have boundaries with parents, children, friends, lovers, work acquaintances, store keepers, customer service representatives, the bank teller, the reservation clerk, the cat sitter, the dog groomer.
It is about taking care of yourself and letting people know they can’t invade the spaces you have defined as yours.