How do you know when you are protecting yourself and when you are being selfish?
It’s as easy as being truly honest with yourself and asking if you feel comfortable with something. The moment you start feeling like it’s something you don’t want and you are not harming anyone by stopping, you are setting your limits – which is one of the healthiest things you can do.
Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn. We might pick up pointers here and there from experience or through watching others. But for many of us, boundary-building is a relatively new concept and a challenging one.
My tips on setting boundaries?
1. Tune into your feelings of discomfort and resentment.
Think of these on a continuum from one to 10. If you’re at the higher end of this continuum during an interaction or in a situation, ask yourself, what is causing that? Resentment usually comes from being taken advantage of or not
appreciated. That’s where you will know you have to set a limit.
2. Be clear and direct.
With some people, maintaining healthy boundaries doesn’t require a direct and clear-cut dialogue. Usually, this is the case if people are similar in their communication styles, views, personalities and general approach to life. But some people who are not assertive themselves may try to still push you, so stand your ground and don’t let anyone push you.
3. Practice self awareness.
Boundaries are all about honing in on your feelings and honoring them. If you notice yourself slipping and not sustaining your boundaries, ask yourself: What’s changed? Consider What I am doing or [what is] the other person doing? or “What is the situation eliciting that’s making me resentful or stressed?” Then, mull over your options: “What am I going to
do about the situation? What do I have control over?”
Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support, but it’s a skill you can master.