Having healthy boundaries means knowing your inner feelings, wants, needs, and limits, as well as fulfilling and enforcing them without hurting others. That means finding your true self and protecting it, no matter what, without needing anyone else’s approval. Enforcing healthy boundaries means not letting anyone else change what you know is right for you.
That’s not always easy. How many times have you been upset with someone and intended to tell him or her about it, only to have your resolve weaken once you were face-to-face? Then, instead of maintaining your power, you allowed the other person to dominate the situation. You got caught up in his or her energy and ignored your own intention, allowing your boundaries to collapse.
Without healthy boundaries, your life and relationships are certain to have problems. Depending on what your childhood was like, you might not have been taught much about boundaries. Most people have never even heard of them.
Begin by recognizing that you have a right to possess boundaries. All of the people in your life must respect your boundaries, or they should not be part of your life. That includes parents, siblings, and friends.
Try to check in with how you’re feeling about everything in your life. Notice how you’re treated, spoken to, and valued. Try being aware of boundaries you should have with regard to other people. It might be hard with long-standing relationships, but you’ll gain more respect as you start to speak up. Say “I don’t like that” or “That makes me uncomfortable” when someone is violating what should be a boundary. You have to claim your power. Be assertive. But don’t be aggressive. No need to raise your voice.
If you have a hard time saying no, try saying “I’ll get back to you.” That will give you a little more time to find the courage to say no. The same goes for saying yes. It might help to think of yourself as a small child, but play the role of the parent protecting that “inner child.” You wouldn’t allow a child to be pushed around, or yelled at, would you? By protecting your inner child, you’ll be teaching everyone in your life how to treat you. If you enforce your boundaries, they will be respected! Communication is always the key.
Learn more about how to strengthen your boundaries in my book:
Giving Up Junk-Food Relationships: Recipes for Healthy Choices