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Setting Boundaries in Relationships

Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries is an essential part of creating stable relationships, being assertive and validating your identity and self-worth. However, many people fail to define what is acceptable and where they will draw the line in life. They may believe that having clear-cut boundaries and saying no will make others believe they’re rude or unhelpful. They may also fear that enforcing boundaries will cause friends and loved ones to reject or resent them. Here are some tips for setting boundaries in relationships.

1. Look Inward

Getting to know yourself and what you are comfortable with is the first step for setting effective boundaries. For example, perhaps you’re an introvert who needs quiet time to unwind and decompress after socializing with others. In that case, you could create a “Do Not Disturb” sign and explain to your partner and children that you’d appreciate them respecting your privacy while you have the door closed and this sign hanging from your doorknob. Asking others to allow you personal space when you need it is an excellent boundary for defining your sense of self.

2. Ask for Help

Too often, we tend to view asking for help as a sign of weakness, when the opposite is true. The ability to recognize and admit when you’re a little bit over your head is valuable. Asking others to help you demonstrates trust and a willingness to learn and grow. It shows those around you that you value their advice and have a genuine desire to improve areas of weakness. Requesting help can also improve your mental health by fostering camaraderie and reminding you that you’re not alone. 

3. Learn to Say No

Do you frequently overcommit and find yourself stretched too thin? In trying to be a people-pleaser, it’s easy to go overboard and realize you have more tasks on your plate than you can reasonably handle. Society conditions us that turning people down is selfish. However, you need to respect yourself and expect others to do the same. If someone asks you to take care of a task you don’t have time for, or even something you’re unwilling to do for solely personal reasons, you should never feel ashamed about politely saying no.

4. Let Go of Guilt

Sometimes, setting boundaries can feel like you are rejecting others. Still, you should learn not to feel guilty about prioritizing your needs. When you learn to put yourself first, you can be more present for those around you. After all, your time is precious, and setting boundaries can help you make the most of your finite energy. The more you practice enforcing your boundaries, the less guilt you will feel as your self-esteem improves.

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