Do you find yourself saying "yes" when you really want to say "no"? Do you end up doing more than your share at home or at work? Do your needs come last—after your husband or wife, your children, work, community service, in-laws, siblings, and friends? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you need to strengthen your boundaries.
Healthy Boundaries Are a Way of Taking Care of Ourselves
Loving and firm boundaries help us take care of ourselves while respecting the rights of others. Healthy boundaries are like a white picket fence lined with beautiful flowers and are uniquely colorful. There is a gate with a welcoming arbor inviting a guest to enter. The gate opens and lets in the good, and it closes to keep out what is unsafe and hurtful. The gate opens to express ourselves and give to others, then closes when we need to go inside to recharge. The gate opens to express appreciation and love or to communicate appropriate anger or grief, or to ask for help. Sometimes the gate needs to be locked simply because we desire to focus on an important project without interruptions.
A Healthy Life Is a Happy Life
It's common for people to think of boundaries as a protection to keep people out. However, they actually act as a way to respect ourselves and others. We voice what we need and want to be at our best. It is our responsibility to care for ourselves and communicate what's right for us. Self-care is foundational for a healthy and happy life.
So if setting limits for others is so important for our happiness, why don't we
set them more easily?
The short answer is fear. We're often afraid that we won't be liked or someone will get upset with us. However, you are the only person who can fully understand what you need and want. And when you make clear choices on your own behalf, you will feel empowered and discover an increased inner peace. A healthy life is a happy life.
If you'd like to know how to have a happy life, try the simple, yet powerful step-by-step process below. With practice, you can get better and better at being true to yourself in each unique situation. Watch your energy increase, your happiness soar, and enjoy enhanced respect and nurturance in your relationships.
Related reading: "Do You Want a Happy Relationship? Develop Healthy Boundaries."
And sometimes we postpone or don't set boundaries because we are in the habit of people-pleasing. To tackle and re-pattern your inner People Pleaser, check out our e-book, "How to Stop Being a People Pleaser: Advice from an Ex-People Pleaser."
If you'd like to improve the quality of your life and enhance all of your relationships both at work and home, explore the following formula for setting boundaries.
Effective Steps for Setting Healthy Boundaries
STEP 1 Act immediately before you get upset or calm down before meeting to discuss with the person(s).
STEP 2 State the request or boundary positively in a neutral voice.
STEP 3 Empathize with the person if they react or defend themselves.
STEP 4 State what you want clearly and concisely.
STEP 5 - State what you will do if your request is not respected.
STEP 6 - Give positive feedback when the person honors your boundary.
EXAMPLE: "Please call me when you are going to be more than 5 minutes late." or "In the future, if you choose to be an hour late for our dates without calling, I'll make other plans after 15 minutes and will not be here when you arrive."
TIPS: If an agreement has been made but is not respected, avoid giving repeated warnings. Avoid making excuses for behavior or letting things slide until your emotions build and explode. Follow through with what you said you would do.
Related reading: "Create a Healthy and Happy Life with Effective Boundaries."
For a more thorough guide to learning how to set boundaries, check out our online course. Boundaries are kind; they just need to be set with kindness before our emotions build. You can learn how and feel good about saying no. Give the gift of boundaries to yourself!