How To Set Healthy Boundaries — So You Stop Getting Hurt

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How To Set Healthy Boundaries — So You Stop Getting Hurt

Boundaries are one of the most critical factors in healthy, happy, and harmonious relationships.

A boundary is a self-honoring agreement inside yourself or with another person that supports your well-being and comes from love. They’re built out of a mix of beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences, and social learning.

When we endure negative or hurtful treatment from another, we can easily end up building bitterness and resentment, and eventually may completely pull away from that person.

RELATED: How To (Finally!) Set Healthy Boundaries That Will Transform Your Life For The Better

Boundaries not only prevent us from getting frustrated and hurt, but they are also a form of self-love and self-respect.

Having the courage to communicate our needs and set healthy boundaries is far more loving than pretending that everything is OK when it isn’t.

If you feel exhausted and drained by people in your life, then discussing boundaries with someone you trust can support and free you from these recurring patterns.

Understanding healthy boundaries is simple, but putting them into practice is not always easy.

In healthy relationships, you do what's right for you before serving others' needs and demands.

This means asking yourself the following questions:

  • "Is this right for me?"

  • "Am I OK with this?"
  • "Will I feel good if I say 'yes' in this situation?"

It’s also about practicing saying "no."

  • "No, I cannot give you any more money."
  • "No, I don’t want to organize the party."
  • "No, I can’t stay and do that."
  • "No, I can’t pick you up at that time from there."

It’s about honest, direct, assertions of your needs — which may be in the form of refusals or simply asserting your needs, first.

Loving someone means allowing them to fend for themselves and find their own way through life's challenges.

Some people take on everyone else’s "stuff" and drama, hoping it will make them happier and, perhaps, forget their own issues. Yet, this causes more problems.

For example, when you take their emotional pain and drama into your heart, body, and mind, there's a good chance that you’re leaving your "stuff" that needs to be dealt with in order to care for them while neglecting yourself.

When you do that long term, you run the risk of being hurt, riddled with resentment, or developing emotional burnout.

Helping others as a path to happiness backfires, because the only way you can truly be happy is if you also have happiness inside of you.

Taking on other people's stuff often causes is a lack of responsibility in that person for their life choices. It's key to ask if it really helps someone when we rescue them all the time.

If you're constantly rescuing someone, close your eyes and ask yourself: Is it helping them long-term? Is it in their highest good?

We learn and grow from our struggles in life — whether that be financial, addiction, or in relationships with others. Are you allowing others to be responsible and grow?

Healthy boundaries are also about whether you take on the ideas and opinions of others when making life choices.

How do you view yourself? Are you able to let those ideas and opinions go if they don't align with what you feel inside?

It's important to exercise control over what you adopt from others. For example, if someone you love doesn’t approve of your decision to focus on your dream career, visit a family member, or book a holiday, does that mean you don’t do it?

Are you the type of person that easily gives up what you want and forgets your own desires? Or do you push forth, regardless?

It can be difficult to carry on with what you want in the midst of non-support or even criticism of our desires, especially if you're already doubting your own abilities.

However, the key to success and setting healthy boundaries is to filter out the messages, jokes, and judgments and not give up on ourselves.

Recognizing that instead of quitting or allowing other’s opinions to control us, you move forward and work on any limiting beliefs you're perhaps holding inside.

Weeding these out can be the most powerful way to set yourself free and manifest your dreams.

RELATED: Why Setting Boundaries In Your Relationship Is The Best Way To Make It Last

Here are 4 ways to set healthy boundaries in your relationships.

1. Be assertive about your boundaries.

Creating boundaries is great, but it’s the follow through that counts. Being direct with people around you is the only way to alert others that your boundaries have been breached.

If you’re unaccustomed to being assertive, it can be scary. So start small with something manageable, and build up your confidence.

For example:

  • Were you overcharged for something? Ask for the money back.
  • Did the waitress get your order wrong? Ask her for what you ordered.
  • Are unsolicited romantic suitors messaging you often? Explain that you’re not interested and would like them to stop.

2. Know the limits of your boundaries.

It’s necessary to define what your emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual boundaries are with work colleagues, friends, family, strangers, and intimate partners.

You can do this by reflecting on past experiences where you felt anger, resentment, discomfort, or frustration with someone. Chances are, it's because your limits have been breached.

For example, say you have pending jobs to attend to and you’re working towards specific goals. But then a family member comes along and asks for your help all week and weekend.

Having boundaries in place can solve this problem. You can offer what you can, whilst also keeping in mind your goals and time restraints. It’s about doing a genuine check on your capacity to help without harming yourself.

3. Express the limits of your boundaries.

If you're upset by something, it’s essential to be heard, no matter what the situation. Otherwise, you run the risk of it happening time and time again.

By expressing your needs and feelings, you also free yourself from carrying resentment. Resentment is a horrible feeling that can weigh us down and damage the relationship.

When you first begin to act assertively, you may be afraid that others will reject you.

Janet was fearful that if she said "no" to her daughter asking for money, she would be cut out of her life and not able to see her grandchildren.

I asked her, "Is this fear based on reality?" She said yes, that her daughter had cut her out of her life before for a whole year, and she was extremely hurt during this time.

She described that since then, she's been giving most of her energy, money, and time to help her daughter when she demands it and, sometimes, at the expense of her own health and happiness.

Part of the problem was that she had not communicated her feelings to her daughter, ever. She had not said how sad and hurt she was when they were not in touch for a year.

She has never shared that she often feels used when asked for money time and time again, or that she doesn’t feel appreciated — that she feels more like an ATM machine.

After some coaching, she took the step to sit down with her daughter and express herself freely. Stating that she wanted to help her as much as she could, but that she also needed to look after herself. It was well-received, and the balance in the relationship shifted for the better.

Not informing someone that they’ve crossed your boundaries only leads to bitterness on your end and misunderstanding on theirs. How are they to know that you're stretched and stressed if you don’t let them know?

4. Practice! Practice!! Practice!

Practice makes progress. Upholding your boundaries means that you value yourself and your needs more than the opinions and demands of others.

Having self-love and confidence does not mean that you’re unkind, it only means that you’re fair and honest with what you can lovingly offer others.

Everyone benefits when love and truth are present.

RELATED: How And Where To Set Boundaries In Your Relationship For An Unbreakable Bond

Nicola Beer is a marriage transformation specialist and founder of the Save My Marriage Program. To book one of her free ultimate connector consultations, email her or read the 7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage, get your free report, visit her website.

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This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.