How to Set Boundaries Without Hurting Your Relationships

Nov 30, 2023
holding hands


In this video, I discuss what a boundary is and isn’t and walk you through the process of setting healthy boundaries in a way that deepens your bond with others instead of creating barriers in your relationships.


Often times, when we’re not familiar with how to set boundaries, we accidentally build barriers instead. It’s super important to understand the difference because the later can unintentionally hurt our connections, while the other informs the people in our lives about our core beliefs and values so that we can establish healthier, more fulfilling relationships.


In other words, a boundary as a bridge that’s essential for any healthy relationship. It makes clear who you are, what you want, your beliefs, values, and limits, so that others are clear about who you are and how you are willing to contribute to the relationship.


So, how do you tell the difference?

A barrier, like in the literal sense, keeps people out. These extreme boundaries are often associated with black and white thinking, aggressive communication or behavior or withdrawing emotionally from the people we care about.


Not only do barriers unintentionally shut people out, they often lead to shutting ourselves out from our true desires as well.


The biggest difference between a boundary and a barrier is that one is in tune with your true feelings and emotions, while the other is more ego-driven. A barrier is a self-protecting mechanism that unintentionally distances us from emotionally fulfilling relationships.


A boundary is the complete opposite. When we are setting boundaries, we recognize our choice and the other individual’s freedom to choose to be in the relationship with us. It’s a delicate balance between being vulnerable enough to express our needs but brave enough to walk away from people and situations who aren’t willing to be considerate of our requirements.


It’s not an ultimatum, it’s an invitation that is grounded in self-love and the realization that at the end of the day, we are responsible for our own happiness.


People will either respect your needs and values or they won’t. And if they don’t, as painful as that can be at first, try to remember that someone’s inability to meet your needs is less about you, than it is about them.


Someone who isn’t able to compromise and show compassion for your desires is toxic to your well-being. Be willing to release these types of relationships to establish a more fulfilling one with yourself.


“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” – Anna Taylor


From my experience, if someone really wants to be in your life, they’ll work with you. Even if they can’t recognize your boundary as an act of self-love and resist it at first, they eventually come around.


How to Communicate Boundaries

When communicating boundaries make it clear to the other person what your needs, values, and beliefs are. The conversation should serve as a platform for them to better understand how you feel and why.


Practice being assertive by communication your boundaries in a way that makes your feelings and needs clear, without disrespecting their own. If someone pushes back on your boundary, let them know that you respect their point of view but this is what you need, right now, if this relationship is going to work.


Change is difficult for anyone, even those who have the best intentions for us, so some resistance is normal. However, it is crucial that you stand your ground.


Here are some quick tips for effectively communicating your boundaries:

  1. Stand by your decision. Listen without interruption and clearly state your needs and wants more than once if necessary.


  1. Make good eye contact. Maintaining eye contact during boundary-setting is an essential nonverbal cue that expresses confidence and a willingness to listen to the other party involved in the conversation.


  1. Minimize Aggression. I know this is easier said than done, but speaking over each other, overbearing communication, frequent interruptions, criticism, and humiliation are toxic to the boundary-setting conversation. If things get too heated in a boundary-setting discussion and you are having trouble controlling your emotions, it’s okay to excuse yourself from the situation. Just make sure to clearly express your feelings and be open to offering the other person a choice to discuss later when you’re both cool, calm and collected.


Now, I should have said this earlier, but guys, if you are in a situation that is dangerous to your well-being, please get out and get help immediately. Trying to set boundaries, with someone that is potentially dangerous can do more harm than good. Please use your best judgment when applying the advice in this blog post and video.

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