Written by Beth Cooper on May 23, 2022

Why are boundaries so damn hard?

I can actually remember one of the first times I heard about boundaries. It was someone telling me that I needed them. However, when I tried to set a boundary, this very same person got upset with me!  

The only people who get upset about you setting boundaries are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.

-unknown

Have you seen this quote before? It’s so true!!! That’s exactly what happened to me back then and it’s happened many times since. 

What are boundaries?

Boundaries set the foundation for how you want other people to treat you. They ensure a sense of mutual respect and lessen the chance of people manipulating or taking advantage of you. Boundaries also honor your own need for self-care and personal integrity.  

Why is it so damn hard to set boundaries? 

I’m fairly certain that no one wants their boundaries violated. So why do we allow it to happen…over and over and over? Why don’t we enforce or uphold our boundaries? Here are a few reasons:

  • Fear of rejection and, ultimately, abandonment
  • Fear of confrontation
  • Guilt
  • Fear of what others think
  • Fear of being seen as selfish
  • We were not taught healthy boundaries

As you can see, there is A LOT of fear with boundary setting. This isn’t something that only a few people struggle with from time to time. In fact, almost every person I’ve ever met struggles with this. 

How do you set boundaries?

1

Boundaries should be based on your values

What’s non-negotiable to you? Those are your most important priorities and a great place to start your focus

2

Pay attention to your intuition

Do you know that voice inside your head that pops up just in time to tell you something is a bad idea? Perhaps consider listening to it. Chances are, it is guiding you in the right direction!

3

Assume responsibility for your needs

While we love our friends and family, taking care of ourselves must be a priority. When you start being responsible for yourself and your needs, you let go of intense expectations of how other people should behave.

4

Practice saying no

I’m not an English teacher but I think “no” is a complete sentence. That may be difficult to digest, especially if you think saying no makes you a bad or mean person. I have come to believe that every time we say yes to something or someone else, in some way – we are saying no to ourselves.

5

Don’t apologize!

Remember that setting a boundary doesn’t require anyone else’s approval.

6

Your boundaries are yours and yours alone

Many of your boundaries might align with those close to you but others will be unique to you.

You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no.

Setting boundaries doesn’t always feel good. At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty, or embarrassed when you set a boundary. Do it anyway and remind yourself you have a right to self-care. Setting boundaries takes practice and determination. Don’t let anxiety, fear, or guilt prevent you from taking care of yourself. 

Boundaries may sound like this:

  • I’m not comfortable with this
  • Not at this time
  • I don’t want to do that
  • Please don’t do that
  • This doesn’t work for me
  • I can’t do that for you
  • I’ve decided not to 

Remember that you are not responsible for another person’s reaction to your boundaries. You are only responsible for communicating your boundary in a respectful manner. If it upsets someone, know it is their problem. Some people might not respect your boundaries. They may push back and challenge you. Plan on it, expect it but remain firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You cannot successfully establish a clear boundary if you send mixed messages by apologizing. Try your best not to back down. Discomfort can sometimes be a part of the growth process.

Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. Set them in your own time frame, not when someone else tells you to. It’s also helpful to develop a support system of people who respect your right to set boundaries. While setting boundaries is not easy, I have personally found that it brings balance to almost every part of my life. 

Could you use some guidance in setting boundaries?

If you need support with boundaries, let's connect. Grab time on my calendar.

I'M READY!

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