Home Mindful Living Building Healthy Boundaries – A Step by Step Guide #Selfhelp

Building Healthy Boundaries – A Step by Step Guide #Selfhelp

by Vidya Sury April 2, 2019 17 comments
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?

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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.

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

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.

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!
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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

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

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

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.
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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

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 🙂
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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

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.
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Felicia Austin August 22, 2019 at 9:21 am

I used to be a push over in my younger age, especially when I was in the military. I would always do things I didn’t think were right or just to make someone else happy. It was like that when I first got married too. I would swipe all of my feelings and needs aside just to adhere to my husbands needs. One day he asked me a simple question like what do I want and I couldn’t answer because it had been so long since someone had asked me that and I didn’t know how to respond. My brain literally went blank. Ever since then I have made it a priority to set my boundaries and tell myself it is ok to say No. I lost myself a bit but now have found myself again. Thanks for this post!

Karmen August 22, 2019 at 11:48 am

Oh, this is such a difficult topic for me. I don’t even want to tell you how many points I neglect. But I’m working on this. Someone once told me that if I can not help and love myself, how can I ever help and love them… And that is so true.
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Leana Lourens August 22, 2019 at 11:58 am

Hi Vidya. I used to be a person that struggled saying no to people and at the end of the day people may walk over you and you will be too afraid to step-up. Changing that habit will make life so much easier 🙂

Nicole August 22, 2019 at 11:20 pm

I really needed to read this today! I’m so bad with personal boundaries especially when it comes to my business and helping other people in my life. A lot of the time I help everyone and push myself aside. I need to work on my boundaries. Thanks for sharing this!

Lynne Huysamen August 24, 2019 at 12:42 pm

As a recovering alcoholic and addict I am sitting here nodding my head as I read. Healthy boundaries are so important for everyone. This is one of the big lessons I have had to learn and my life has become so much easier since I have become better at it.
Saying no is not about the other person, it is about saying YES to yourself. One thing I also find very important when it comes to setting my boundaries is to assess each situation and decide who is the person with the problem and who caused the problem. Very often I would get sucked into situations by other people that really had nothing to do with me and others expected me to fix it for them.
This little exercise has stopped me being walked all over and I am free because of it.
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