How To Establish Boundaries

Establishing boundaries in our relationships seems to come easy to certain personality types.

But to most people, it seems to be near impossible, especially if you’re the phlegmatic kind whose sole goal in life to keep the peace.

Boundaries are necessary for both parties, and ultimately make a relationship stronger and healthier. Setting boundaries is tough, and should be done in small steps with grace.

Besides identifying what your boundaries are, there are plenty of other steps to take.

1. No matter your situation, you must take time for yourself.

Even if you live in a house full of rambunctious kids and your 9-5 job doesn’t leave room for fun, there has to be something done for yourself at some point.

This is when the art of saying “no” comes into practice. Make time for yourself a top priority. Write it down in your planner if you must.

And, whatever you do, don’t talk yourself out of it, no matter what you feel. Once you do it, you’ll realize how important and helpful it is for your well-being.

2. Embrace confrontation.

Once you decide on some boundaries, you have to communicate them to people, of course. You might have to communicate them several times until they’re engraved in their heads.

This means that when they cross the boundary, you must assertively and respectively confront them about it. Do it in the right way, and the message will be delivered.

This can be good for the other person too, because it would give them a chance to adjust a bad habit and better themselves.

3. Reconcile with the feeling of guilt.

When you begin to set boundaries that were not originally there, guilt will most likely set in.

The other person may be the one making you feel guilty, but you’ll also bring it upon yourself. This is normal, and just shows that you’re a loyal person who doesn’t want to hurt the ones around them.

Learn to be firm against this feeling and be bold to move forward even when it hurts for a little while. Remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with wanting to help yourself and your relationship.

4. Become self-aware.

It’s hard to know what you’re okay and not okay with if you don’t know yourself first. Pay attention and study yourself in each kind of environment, event, and relationship.

Discover your ticks and learn what sort of feelings come from certain experiences. Trust your emotions and be loyal to them.

Guarding yourself with boundaries is not a bad thing, as long as your intention for guarding yourself is a healthy one.

5. Follow through.

When you set boundaries and make them known, make sure to follow through with them. Practice being steadfast in your words and address every instance that a boundary is crossed.

If you let things slide, you’ll communicate to the person that you weren’t serious, or that you’re okay with them continuing what they’re doing, and that you’re not a person of integrity.

Despite the guilt and frustration and very likelihood of resistance, stand your ground and keep those boundaries as strongly established as when you set them.


Establishing boundaries is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do in relationships, but relationships cannot sustain without them.

If you love others, and you love yourself, set them now and don’t be afraid. The positive results won’t be apparent in the beginning, but over time, you’ll notice a change for the better in both of your lives.

Image: iStock

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