How To Set Healthy Boundaries For Harmonious Relationships

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Boundaries are a critical factor in healthy, happy, and harmonious relationships. 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.

Establishing boundaries not only prevents us from getting frustrated and hurt, but is 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, discussing boundaries with someone you trust can support and free you from these recurring patterns.


How to set healthy boundaries in your relationships

1. 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.

2. Allow others to fend for themselves and find their own way through life's challenges.

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

For example, when you take the someone else's emotional pain into your heart, body, and mind, there's a good chance you’re leaving your "stuff" undealt with in order to care for them while neglecting yourself. When you self-sacrifice over a long term, you run the risk of being hurt, riddled with resentment, or developing emotional burnout.

Helping others as a path to happiness will backfire because the only way you need to find happiness inside of you. Taking on other people's emotions and emotional responsibility often causes that person to lose accountability for their life choices.

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 the struggles of life — whether we struggle with finances, addiction, or in relationships with others, how we face the struggle teaches important life lessons. Are you allowing others to be accountable to their own growth?

3. Don't concern yourself with the ideas and opinions of others when making life choices.

How do you view yourself? Are you able to let go of ideas and opinions 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; to visit a family member, or to book a holiday abroad, does that mean you don’t do it?

Are you the type of person who easily gives up your own desires? Or do you push forth, regardless?

It can be difficult to pursue what you want without support, or under criticism of your desires, especially if you're already doubting your own abilities. So, setting healthy boundaries about adopting other's attitudes will help filter out the negative messages, diminutizing jokes, and harsh judgments.

Instead of quitting or allowing other’s opinions to control us, we move forward and work on the limiting beliefs we've been holding.

Weeding out the self-limiting beliefs can be the most powerful way to set yourself free and manifest your dreams.

RELATED: How Much To Compromise In Relationships (Without Completely Compromising Who You Are)

4. Be assertive and direct.

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 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 you are not interested and want them to stop.

5. 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 had been breached.

For example, you had pending tasks to attend to and you were working towards specific goals. But then a family member came along and asked for your help all week and weekend. So, you abandon your work and take on theirs.

Having boundaries in place can solve this problem. You can offer what help you can, while keeping in mind your goals and time restraints. You can also say, "no". It’s about doing a genuine check on your capacity to help without harming yourself.

6. 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 will weigh us down and damage the relationship.

When you first begin to act assertively, you might be afraid others will reject you. Let's look at Janet as an example.

Janet was fearful 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". Her daughter had cut her out of her life before for a whole year, and she was extremely hurt during this time. Since then, Janet's been giving most of her energy, money, and time to help her daughter when she demands it, sometimes at the expense of her own health and happiness.

Part of the problem was Janet 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 had never shared how she often feels used when asked for money repeatedly, or how she doesn’t feel appreciated — how she feels more like an ATM.

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

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

7. Practice! Practice!! Practice!

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

Having self-love and confidence does not mean you are unkind, it only means you are fair and honest with what you lovingly offer to others. When you hold boundaries for yourself, you will be better able to help others and allow them to helps themselves.

Everyone benefits when love and truth are present in the relationship.

RELATED: 7 Unexpected Benefits Of Setting Boundaries At Work (& Exactly How To Do It)

Nicola Beer is a marriage transformation specialist, founder of the Save My Marriage Program, and the author of 7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage.

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