It’s not always easy to set limits. The process of informing others of your requirements and limitations can be unpleasant, especially for those who aren’t used to it.
If you try to adjust your relationship limits with someone who is used to them being at a specific point, they may fight you, and individuals (especially youngsters) frequently want to test boundaries with one another. All of this can be difficult, especially when you consider the impact of disagreement on stress levels.
The ultimate result, though, can be well worth it: relationships that are more mutually respectful, that fit the requirements of all individuals involved, and that cause far less stress for everyone.
The first step in establishing limits is to determine where your personal boundaries are. How at ease are you with people getting near to you and allowing them to have certain liberties with you?
When your boundaries are broken, the emotion you get is often your first indicator. Because everyone’s boundaries are different, something that upsets others might not bother you, and vice versa. As a result, it’s critical to convey your comfort (and discomfort) levels to others so that those with different limits don’t cross yours.
The following are general guidelines to help you to become more aware of your own personal boundaries.
Signs You Need to Work on Boundaries
- People that ask too much of you irritate you, and it seems to happen frequently.
- To avoid offending or disappointing people, you find yourself saying “yes” to things you’d rather not do.
- You’re resentful of others since you’re doing more for them than they’re doing for you.
- Because you’re terrified of people getting too close and overwhelming you, you keep most people at arm’s length.
- You begin to believe that the majority of what you do is for other people, who may or may not enjoy it.
- The tension you feel when you disappoint others is bigger than the stress you feel when you do things to satisfy them that bother or drain you.
Questions to Ask Yourself
There are additional questions you should ask yourself when you are looking at specific choices you can make, rather than your feelings in general, that can help you decide whether or not a boundary needs to be set.
The following questions can help you to clarify your boundaries in specific situations, and navigate through future ones:
- Would you rather say yes or no if no one would be disappointed?
- Is it worth the effort to say yes, considering all of the rewards and drawbacks of this circumstance (both material and intangible)?
- Would you feel comfortable asking someone else the same question?
- Do you believe they are coming from a respectful, reasonable place if they are furious with you if you say no? (And, if not, isn’t it time to start putting some boundaries in place?)
- Is this a precedent you’d like to establish? (And, if not, where might an acceptable boundary be drawn?)
- Consider someone you admire who has strong limits and whom you would like to emulate. What do you think their reaction would be?
Once you’ve determined how you are feeling, you can decide if you do indeed wish to set a boundary. In a perfect world, once we are aware of where our personal comfort zones lie, we simply communicate that information to others, and a relationship boundary is set.
Boundary-setting, on the other hand, frequently requires some negotiation in the actual world, and it does not always go easily. People have their own set of boundaries that may or may not be compatible, and they may urge for greater space or proximity for their own reasons.
People may react to changes in the status quo by attempting to enforce previous or current boundaries, sometimes in ways that make us uncomfortable. Setting boundaries can be difficult in this situation.
It’s critical to be cautious while defining boundaries because we must consider both our personal needs and the needs and reactions of others.
The questions you ask yourself when you’re trying to figure out where your personal boundaries are different from the ones you might ask yourself when you’re trying to figure out where your personal boundaries are.
When you set your boundaries in specific situations, you need to take into account practical factors like the “cost” of setting boundaries. They also allow you to be clear on issues such as guilt (should you feel guilty?) and motivation (is it worth it?), so you can move forward with the least amount of stress.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What is fair here?
- If you were in the position of the other person, would your solution still appear to be fair?
- Have you committed to this, or is this an expectation that the other person is placing on you?
- Is there another solution here that could be more win-win?
- Does the act of making a change or setting a boundary create more stress than it might alleviate in the long run?
- When you imagine the results a year from now, do you get a sense that this would be a better solution than what you have now?
- If you are setting a boundary and feel the other person is unreasonable in fighting the boundary, are you willing to let the relationship go rather than feel hurt by the boundary mismatch?
It is important to note that you will likely be weighing your own feelings more heavily than the feelings of others because you must live with the consequences of your decisions.
You are also the one who will have to live with the consequences of your choices. Ultimately, we all have our own comfort levels for boundaries, but these questions provide food for thought.
Although this may be stressful at the moment, once you decide to set boundaries and/or put the boundaries into place, it minimizes some of the stress. Working on boundary-setting strategies and assertive communication techniques can bring some positive results to your life.