When it comes to setting and keeping healthy boundaries, the hardest thing is not to go too far. One of two things happens most of the time: either you don’t do anything when someone breaks the rules, or you treat him too harshly. But it would help if you act sensibly. Be polite but also persistent and sure of yourself. These qualities will help you really tell the person what you don’t like about them.
Don’t forget that it’s normal to push the boundaries. And learn to do this all the time when you talk to other people, not just when you can’t control your negative emotions. We’ve come up with a few ideas on how to set healthy boundaries.
6 ways to set healthy boundaries
1. Tell people ahead of time what you don’t like
The easiest thing to do is to tell the person before you start talking to them that you don’t like it. There’s nothing strange about this. You’re just lowering the chance that your conversation will make someone feel bad by doing what you’re doing. You can make a list of things about which it’s best not to talk to you, questions you won’t answer, etc.
You won’t have to worry that your conversation partner will start to go in the wrong direction, and they’ll know exactly what you’ll take calmly and what you should keep to yourself and talk about with other people. Just one warning from you can save both of you from getting into trouble that you don’t need to.
But, of course, this will only work if the person you’re talking to respects your boundaries. So, don’t blame yourself or feel bad about everyone else if your warning didn’t make a difference. In this case, you should just stop talking to the person because you can’t show him that he is wrong by talking to him.
2. Set rules for what is allowed, even for close friends and family
Personal boundaries are more than just how you let strangers treat you. Your family, friends, and loved ones should also know what they can and cannot do. So, if you don’t want to feel stress and bad feelings repeatedly because of what people you care about to say or do, it’s better to set boundaries for them. Tell them what they do that hurts or bothers you when it would be better for them to act differently and what they shouldn’t talk to you about.
This isn’t about being selfish; you just want to feel at ease when talking to people you trust. Selfishness is when you want other people to do things well for you. And having a healthy view of yourself means not letting other people mistreat you, get into your business, or talk about things that make you uncomfortable. People who are really close to you will understand you and try to change how they do things.
3. Don’t give up
If someone doesn’t understand what you want from him the first time, that doesn’t mean you should give up and stop trying to talk to him. Instead, it would help if you kept trying to talk to him the way he wants. This is not a guide to aggressive actions like yelling, saying you can’t be heard or being violent toward him. Try to give people more chances by staying calm and reminding them of what you asked them not to say or do.
You’ll be surprised to learn that many people in your life break your boundaries without meaning to. They do it because they aren’t paying attention, because they don’t take you seriously right away, out of habit, etc. Don’t give up on what you want, and don’t be afraid to seem pushy or stuffy. Don’t forget that you’re doing this to make yourself feel better.
4. Say thank you and say no
People will often come up to you and give you advice and offers of help that you didn’t ask for. They might not think much of your refusal or think you don’t want to bother them with your problems. Those who don’t give up will bend their rules to the very end, sometimes even going over the line of what is allowed and making accusations.
Don’t get angry right away because that won’t get you anywhere. The other person will just answer you the way you answer him, and the problem won’t be solved. It’s better to thank the other person for trying to help you or giving you advice, but then politely decline to use them. You don’t have to say why you made this choice; just let the person know that you appreciate his efforts, but you’ll figure it out yourself.
5. Don’t be afraid, to be honest about how you feel
The best way to protect your boundaries is to tell the person how their words or actions make you feel. So that you can show him how things really are, many people may not understand why you don’t like what they do for a long time. And the only way to make things better is to talk about how you feel honestly.
Don’t be afraid to say how you really feel. It’s not embarrassing because all you’re doing is letting the person know how his actions affect you and your condition. Then, it’s up to your conversation partner to decide whether to keep acting the same way, ignoring your request or still thinking about your viewpoints.
6. Don’t demand to understand
It is not at all necessary to understand someone to respect them. Just being polite and well-mannered is enough. If you tell someone straight out that you don’t like how he treats you, you do everything that needs to be done. A person’s decision to listen to you or not is already a conscious choice that you can’t change.
Do not bother someone else by making them stand in your place or try out your ideas. This won’t get you what you want, and it will only push the person away. You don’t have to explain every refusal, request, or reaction if you’re not ready, don’t want to, or know that your interlocutor won’t understand you anyway.