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How to Set Boundaries With Compassion

Boundaries are an essential part of any healthy relationship. However, setting effective boundaries is a skill many people don’t learn, which can lead to confusion and strained relationships. If this concept is new to you, you might think it feels rude or disrespectful to set limits with people. In that case, you’ll be glad to know about these compassionate ways to be assertive and tell others where you stand.    

1. Value Yourself

If you often struggle with your self-worth, you might have trouble believing you’re good enough. You could consistently put others’ needs above yours, which sends the implicit message that people can walk all over you. Setting boundaries is about loving and respecting yourself enough to speak with your authentic voice and be direct about your needs.

2. Get in Touch With Your Feelings 

If you’ve never set boundaries with the people in your life, your relationships might be brimming with tension or unexpressed resentment. These could be red flags that you’re pushing yourself beyond your limits, or that someone is imposing their unrealistic expectations on you. Evaluate how other people make you feel about yourself. Defining boundaries can help you improve any relationship, even ones that have become uncomfortable. 

3. Consider the Other Person’s Needs

Being compassionate requires you to think beyond yourself and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It may be necessary for you to reach compromises in your relationships, but make sure you aren’t giving up on your priorities and values along the way. There should still be a healthy balance between give and take.

4. Prioritize Your Self-Care

You can’t maintain healthy relationships with others if you aren’t carving out time to look after your physical and mental well-being. When you do this, you’ll strengthen your motivation to set realistic, compassionate boundaries. Self-care isn’t selfish; it means honoring your needs and giving yourself permission to put yourself first. It puts you in a better frame of mind to be a good friend, spouse, co-worker or family member. 

5. Ask for Help

If you’re having trouble setting and maintaining boundaries, consider asking your therapist for advice on how to develop stronger relationships. Alternatively, discuss boundaries with your friends and family. Ask them to help you practice agreeing on shared goals and holding each other accountable.

6. Advocate for Yourself

Setting realistic boundaries with others is an excellent first step, but they’re meaningless unless you follow through on them. No matter how well people in your life might know you, you can’t expect them to read your mind and instinctively intuit when they’ve crossed a line. When someone violates your boundaries, it’s essential to be assertive and speak up for yourself. Respectfully let the other person know what is bothering you, so you can take proactive steps to move forward together.

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