Creating Boundaries

Do you always say yes to everyone and everything? Do you feel guilty if you say no, but end up feeling entirely overwhelmed? It sounds like you need to put some boundaries in place. Here is how you start.

Decide what is non-negotiable for you
What are your limits? Ensure that you are clear on what you can, and can’t cope with and use these limits as a framework for your boundaries.

Once you know your boundaries you can communicate with others about what is and isn’t acceptable to you. Being assertive means stating your needs calmly and clearly, without any anger or aggression. Setting boundaries will stop you feeling resentful that you are being taken advantage of.

Let go of guilt
If even the thought of saying no to something brings you out in a cold sweat, remind yourself it’s okay to set boundaries. Just because you may feel guilty doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. Remind yourself that this is a positive step and doesn’t mean that you will stop doing things for others, simply that you are respecting that your own needs have equal importance to those of others.

Start small
If these suggestions sound a little overwhelming, start by practicing by saying no to small things. After you have said no and protected your own needs, ask yourself how you feel. In many cases you will feel relieved and other people’s reactions will not be angry or upset that you may have predicted.

Creating boundaries can also have unexpected side-effects. In addition to growing self-esteem and confidence, your energy levels will improve as you become less stressed and more able to look objectively at situations rather than starting on the back foot as you may have done in the past.

Ultimately looking after yourself is just as important as the time you spend looking after others. Setting boundaries allows you to do both things better.