How to Know Where to Set a Boundary

This week will dig more into knowing where a boundary is needed, a bit on how to set the boundary, and for sure on why boundary setting is so freaking important. Brené Brown says, “when we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.” I truly believe that we are co-creators in our life experiences and boundary setting, as well as enforcing, is a huge part of how much joy or stress we experience in our lives. 

We oftentimes ignore boundary setting because we just want to go with the flow, avoid discomfort, or not want to look like a bad person. It’s possible to say what needs to be said gently, yet assertively, and without harsh confrontation. Avoiding these moments of gentle confrontation is driven by avoiding discomfort, but at what cost? When you are unwilling to speak up for your needs you are subconsciously sending the message to yourself that the other person’s comfort & needs are more important than yours. These little moments of self-abandonment add up to large deficits of self-worth and your sense of deservingness. 

Let’s first unpack knowing where you need boundaries. The short answer to this is if it feels like crap in any way, you probably need a boundary. But of course, I will be more specific because specificity is what makes a good boundary. If you throw out a vague boundary, it’s not much more than wishful thinking that will lead to misunderstandings, violated boundaries, and a heap of resentments on both sides. 

How do you know where to set boundaries???

Intuitive boundary signals

  • When someone’s behaviors or statements give you the icks. Either intellectually or intuitively you know that person isn’t safe for you but other people accept them so you do too. Perhaps you do speak up for yourself but it gets brushed off like its no big deal so you begin to ignore your intuition. You CAN keep your distance from someone or meet their inappropriate comments with “Please don’t speak to me like that,” or “I’m not going to tolerate that, we can talk about it another time.”

Lifestyle priorities

  • Know your limits and what you need. I know I need a plant-based diet and an early bedtime. Sometimes people make comments to me when I want to dip out early or don’t eat when there are no veggie options at a party. I politely reply that “I’m just taking care of my own needs.” This almost always ends the questioning and that quick response makes it easy for me to keep my promises to myself.

Silent but cringing 

  • We’ve all been in those situations. You know, the ones where you are biting your tongue so hard you taste blood, figuratively of course. If it’s a friend or family member, it’s totally okay to say, “I love you but I don’t share that opinion, so let’s talk about…our summer plans.” If it’s more of an acquaintance or not so close friend, “I don’t share that opinion but I respect that it’s yours, can we change the subject?”
  • Another coach who is a strong influence of mine says, “don’t let your silence make you a liar.” It is so important to understand that the messages you send to others are also sent to yourself subconsciously.

Complaining versus clearing

  • Sometimes venting is necessary to clear out some frustration. But chronic complaining about the same issues to people who have no say in the situation is simply avoiding confrontation while scratching the itch. YOU deserve to give voice to what makes you feel safe, comfortable, respected, etc. When you complain about something, you’ve rehearsed the confrontation, therefore your subconscious mind thinks you’ve handled it which is why you get a release. BUT you haven’t handled it, so you continue to relive a boundary violation and feel more and more hurt as you send the message to yourself that you don’t matter. 

Believing that your voice matters is the most important part of boundary setting. We can so easily rationalize why we don’t speak up for ourselves but it always comes with a cost. In the same way that speaking up for ourselves does. It may cost unhealthy relationships or friendships, it may change the dynamics of some of those relationships, it will definitely change your relationship with yourself…for the better. 

If setting boundaries feels overwhelming, let’s chat! I’m here to guide you through the steps of self-advocacy and help you learn to love the shit out of yourself!