#AtoZChallenge Mindful Living Personal development

Building Healthy Boundaries – A Step by Step Guide #AtoZChallenge #Selfhelp

Building healthy boundaries a step by step guide

We know that building healthy boundaries is a crucial ingredient of a happy and fulfilling life.

But . . .

Are there days when you feel as if you are here in this world to only satisfy others’ needs, while shoving yours away? Do you suffer physically, mentally and emotionally because of this? I know I have.

It is a sign that you need to build or strengthen your boundaries to protect your feelings, happiness and overall mental state. And you will need something that will alert you when the limits you’ve set are being violated.

This something—a gauge—will involve certain emotions. When you feel uncomfortable, distressed, resentful—that’s when you need to reassess the situation before you react.

One way to do this is to rate these feelings on a scale of 1 to 5. Based on the severity—look at what’s triggering them and how you can overcome them.

So next time someone tries to be pushy with you, treat you badly or pressurize you into doing something you don’t want to, it is time to enforce your boundaries. Recognize that emotional red flag and take action.

But how do you create or reinforce your boundaries?

Let’s look at the basics for building healthy boundaries

As I mentioned earlier, to be the best “you”—to be happy—to be healthy—you have to set boundaries. This means being clear about your limits. This is necessary to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by the demands and expectations of other people.

If you don’t set boundaries, you become overburdened, stressed and resentful—so it is entirely up to you to create and maintain your limits.  You are the only one responsible for your happiness and well-being and nobody else is going to do it for you.

We all find it tough in varying degrees to say “No”. What we don’t realize is how it is affecting us. So, now is the time to to re-calibrate your boundaries.

7 steps to building healthy boundaries

A step by step for building healthy boundaries

Here is a step-by-step guide for building healthy boundaries.

1.     Know and assess your limits

Self-awareness is the key to creating and maintaining your limits. Know your emotional, mental, and physical limits.

Boundaries are a reflection of your relationship with yourself. Weak boundaries tell the world that you don’t care about letting go of your time and happiness. Strong boundaries signal your self-respect and values.

As a first step, think about this:

  • what makes you feel uncomfortable?
  • what stresses you?
  • what feels good?
  • What is acceptable to you?
  • What are your limits?
  • What makes you feel depleted?

Make the time to sit down and work out these values.

2.     Know how to interpret your feelings

In the process of evaluating your limits, you probably felt a range of emotions. Focus on two of these: resentment and discomfort. When you feel that someone is taking advantage of you, or not appreciating you or even exploiting you—it is a warning sign that they are violating your boundaries. It is time to reassert your boundaries and say NO.

3.     Give yourself permission to enforce your boundaries

Give yourself permission to say NO. You must do it for your self-respect to maintain your boundaries and refuse unwelcome requests. No need to feel guilty or have self-doubts over this. When you have clear boundaries and stick to them, you are NOT being selfish. When you put yourself first, you ensure that you have the energy to do things you want to do and to be there for people when you want to be. It’s a form of self-care.

4.     Know your non-negotiables

What do you need to be healthy and happy? It can be your exercise routine—a daily walk, gym session, yoga practice . . .  or other things you do. Make it clear that these are non-negotiable elements in your daily schedule. For example, if you are being talked into hosting a family party and it cuts into your non-negotiables, let them know that you can’t—but maybe you can contribute with food and beverages. If an office colleague asks for help, feel free to say no if you can’t. Don’t want to go to that musical with a friend because you don’t like them, fine. Say so. Can’t work late today? Say so!

It is perfectly fine to be clear and direct about your boundaries. And feelings. This way, there’s no scope for guilt, doubt or leverage.

5.     Be direct

Perhaps the most important step while setting and reinforcing boundaries is being clear. When you are clear, there is no need to fall back on excuses or cook up stories. Just state what you have to say and leave it at that. Be polite and kind about it. Point is, say no and maintain your boundaries.

6.     Be consistent

This step is important. Once you set boundaries, you must maintain them consistently. Don’t say one thing and do another. People will test your boundaries—after all, it is human nature. So, follow through on what you say.

7.     Write your script

To make it easier on yourself, especially if you find it hard to come up with the right response when someone is pushing your boundaries, here’s a tip. Write your script. Make a bunch of ready made answers that you can use when a simple No won’t do.

  • No, I can’t on that day
  • I’m already committed
  • I’m not available
  • I’m afraid I’m not interested

Be polite but firm. No need to explain yourself.  This way you’ll build the confidence to enforce your boundaries.

Dont be afraid to set firm boundaries

You have the right to have healthy boundaries, so don’t feel guilty. Guilt is simply a consequence of the social conditioning to be “unselfish”. If someone does try to make you feel guilty, just recognize that behavior for what it is. It is called bullying. Building healthy boundaries and maintaining them reduces your stress levels and improves your relationships.

What is your opinion on building healthy boundaries?

Are you a people-pleaser?

12 Comments

  • Reply
    Geethica Mehra
    April 2, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Hi Vidya, very subtly you have guided to accept our personalities. It is important to know your limits and say NO when you actually can’t give time for a particular work.
    It is always a treat to read your thoughts.

  • Reply
    Kaddu
    April 2, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    I have been a push-over throughout my life. Used to find it impossible to say “NO” until a few years ago. And when I finally started doing it, a lot of relationships fell apart. Sighhhh.

    But that’s life, isn’t it? Some of them will pass the test, rest will just remain as memories.
    Right now, I’m struggling with point 6.
    Kaddu recently posted…10 Bookish Challenges Only Bookworms Have To Deal With ~ #TenOnTuesday #AtoZChallenge

  • Reply
    Sundari Venkatraman
    April 2, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    “Are there days when you feel as if you are here in this world to only satisfy others’ needs, while shoving yours away?”
    Yes, oh yes! Thanks for this post. I have undergone this so many times and have trained myself to stay out of situations. Being Direct – that’s what works always, of course after understanding my non-negotiables.

  • Reply
    Shilpa Gupte
    April 2, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Pinned this post–for myself!

    It’s difficult saying, “NO”…most of the times. For years, I would only nod my head in a “YES”, whenever I was asked if I would do something. I felt it was needed to keep them happy. But, I ended up feeling miserable. Now, I try and set my boundaries, but at times, it can get tough. ‘What will they think about me?” is the thought that haunts me for long!
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted…B – Breathe. #AtoZChallenge

  • Reply
    Kalpana Solsi
    April 2, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    I liked the idea of rating the feelings on a scale of 1 to 5. Many a times a person in not aware of of his Rights to say NO. One can decline politely and if need be , take a firm stand and say a loud ‘NO’. a very thoughtful post, Vidya.
    Kalpana Solsi recently posted…breasts : Parts of the body

  • Reply
    Suhasini
    April 2, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Nice way of putting it and I liked your way of guiding us to accept our personalities

  • Reply
    Shalini
    April 2, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    This definitely is one gem of a post. I’m bookmarking this, Mam. I need to read this again.
    Shalini recently posted…Book Subscription Boxes to Watch Out For

  • Reply
    Namratha
    April 2, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    This post has left me with mixed feelings. Some people have no boundaries and some have no leeway. I feel both extremes are bad.
    Namratha recently posted…How to get a Peace Of Happiness #NaPoWriMo

  • Reply
    Random Musings
    April 2, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    I used to really struggle to say no, even if it meant I ended up committing to things I didn’t really have time for, didn’t want to do etc. I’m finding it easier now – I think it comes with practice
    Debbie

  • Reply
    Jemima Pett
    April 2, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    Yes, I’ve pinned it for myself too. I’m looking forward to the rest of April for more gems from you, Vidya 🙂
    Jemima Pett recently posted…B is for Bravo – Victor, that is #atozchallenge

  • Reply
    G Angela
    April 3, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Very useful post vidya, it has taken years for me to set boundaries for myself; learnt through hard way, and with experiences in my life over a period of time has helped me to say No when I wanted to.. Agree with every thing you shared.
    G Angela recently posted…#A-Z April Challenge 2019

  • Reply
    Mrs Fever
    April 6, 2019 at 1:07 am

    This was a thought-provoking post.

    I’ve had a lot of practice saying “No” but I still say “Yes” sometimes to things I end up regretting.

    People who understand the nature of my work… When they are asking for my time, and I can’t/don’t-want-to give it, I usually say something along the lines of “I’m not available at that time, sorry. But thank you for asking.”

    With other things (tasks that are not time-specific, goods or services requested, money, etc.) it’s not always so simple.
    Mrs Fever recently posted…Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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