How Boundary-Setting Can Improve Your Life

by 26Health Staff

I mentioned in a previous post, Establishing Healthy Boundaries, that “people know what boundaries are but don’t know how to use them and, most of the time, don’t even realize that they need to.” I want to expand on that thought a bit here.  

Perhaps it’s because I am so familiar with establishing boundaries, but it still never fails to amaze me how many people simply do not understand the concept of boundary-setting. 

I see it in sessions all the time: an overbearing mother using guilt to coerce her children, a significant other being codependent, or a pushy friend who’s involved more than is desired. These are just a few examples of poor boundary-setting.

Sometimes You Have to Set the Example

In order to create healthy boundaries with others, it helps to consider how you treat boundaries yourself. Do you recognize boundaries? Are they important to you? Do you establish strict boundaries, or are you more flexible about boundary-setting? How far over the line are you willing to allow people? How far do you go yourself? 

I pose these questions because, in many cases,  we train people how to treat us. If you let them walk all over you, they will. If you have established firm boundaries and adhere to them, they will (eventually) recognize those boundaries and act accordingly. 

People are amazed when I tell them that I can’t remember the last time someone yelled at me, cursed at me, called me a name, or even raised their voice to me. It’s because I don’t allow it.

Any time I’m interacting with another person, it comes from a place of love. I’m either trying to help that person or understand them better. I don’t get into “Who’s right/Who’s wrong” conversations. If it starts to head in that direction, I simply say, “This is getting heated. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree.” I’ve yet to encounter anyone who has an issue with that.

If someone comes at me sideways with a raised voice or a threatening tone, I point that out to them. It is completely possible that the person is unaware that their behavior is off-putting. I might say, “You sound like you’re getting upset. What’s wrong?” This gives them an opportunity to check-in with themselves, manage their tone, and/or acknowledge how they’re coming across.

If the situation continues to escalate, I disengage. That doesn’t mean I walk away without an explanation. I let the person know that they are clearly upset and that it is not a good time to have a conversation; I then suggest a general time when it can be revisited.

Establish Your Boundaries For More Control of Your Life

If you are constantly overwhelmed by people who ignore boundaries, it’s time to take back control. Following these simple rules will help you build better boundaries with the people in your life. Trust me! This will make your life easier, calmer, and happier.