The 5 Best Ways to Build Better Boundaries
Learn how to create and maintain better boundaries in relationships to preserve your mental wellbeing. It’s easier than it seems, and so worth it!
When you think about the word “boundaries,” does your mind conjure up barriers to keep others out? Or walls built to protect those within?
This is a huge variation to make when you undertake the critical endeavor of boundary-setting.
If you imagine boundaries as walls that tell other people no, they can’t enter, it’s often harder to enforce them. Everyone has their reasons to get through to the other side. How do you say no when their excuse is so valid?
The answer comes easily by switching your perspective. Boundaries are not to keep others out. They are designed to keep you sane and promote healthy relationships.
1. Check-In With Your Emotional Fuel Tank
You’ve likely heard that if you don’t take care of your health, it’s like not fueling your car. Once you run out of gas, you’re going to burn out. Your body, too, needs regular maintenance and the proper fuel to go the distance.
Like with your car, a lot of the damage happens when you’re not taking care of yourself below the surface. Until the problems start knocking, you don’t know they are there.
As you get familiar with your physical and mental health, it will be easier to catch the invisible issues. Fueling your body with nourishing food is something you can control yourself. But the things that fuel your emotions are a little more subtle.
What is Emotional Fuel?
Emotional fuel includes things like the music you listen to, the movies you watch, and the books you read. It also refers to the people you allow into your daily life.
When you start watching your emotional fuel, you’ll notice things that drain your tank faster. But never fear! The tank is refillable.
Pay attention to the people and things that fill your gas tank and surround yourself with them more. As you start recognizing what drains you, you’ll know where to begin placing boundaries.
2. Set Your Hard Limits
In life, we do have to compromise sometimes. When it’s a matter of what to have for dinner, these soft barriers are okay to stretch.
Some things, on the other hand, are hard limits. When you recognize these areas, build your boundaries around them securely.
Hard limits should be anything that causes you to compromise your morals and ethics. They include things that deplete your emotional fuel tank.
As a general rule, if it takes away your peace, it’s too expensive. Make it a firm boundary and stick to it.
3. Come Up With Your Script
Now that you have the boundaries you want to start enforcing, it’s time to get comfortable using them. You’ll get better with practice, so don’t give up if a situation doesn’t go how you wanted it to at first.
When Do I Need a Script?
It will become obvious when a boundary-setting script is necessary. For example, you’re beginning to enforce your limits. And then when someone attempts to step over the line, you want to lash out at them. That reaction isn’t fair to someone who is doing what they usually do and doesn’t know any better.
Before you do react in a way that could hurt either of you, it’s better for your relationship to have a script in place. Explain what they did and why you won’t accept it.
A sample script could be, “I know I have always done that for you in the past, but I’m cutting out things that take away from my family. This is a boundary I’ve decided is necessary for my happiness. You will have to find a different person to help you with that.”
4. Build Your Backbone
Setting boundaries is one thing; preserving them is another. As people start realizing you’re serious and it impacts their plans, they will push back. You’ll see who your real supporters and encouragers are.
Anyone who puts their demands over your boundary needs doesn’t deserve to be inside your walls anyway. Let these people fall out of your life naturally. Then enjoy the extra time you have with those who have supported your growth.
Over time, you’ll begin to have more confidence in yourself because you’re standing up for what you want. Strengthen your backbone by removing what drains your tank to activities that fill it.
5. Have an Enforcement and Exit Strategy
Using the script you set will knock out some of the problem areas, but probably not all. You’ll need to be prepared with an enforcement and exit strategy when someone tries to argue with you.
Part of preserving those boundaries you worked so hard on is preparation. How will you enforce your limits when people try to get you to make an exception for them?
Remember Your Goals, Make a Plan
Remember that the goal is to protect yourself, not keep others out. No exceptions are allowed when it’s a hard limit.
Plan your exit strategy for an infringing conversation while still maintaining your boundaries.
It may have to be something like, “If you continue to try to argue with me, I will have to stop talking to you for a while. We can try this again in (name your time frame). If you still can’t accept my limitations, we will have to go our separate ways.”
It sounds harsh, but they are not respecting you by pushing your limits.
Setting and keeping boundaries is hard work. But so is living a life where you’re unhappy because you aren’t doing what you want. Ultimately, you have to choose your level of difficulty.
Will you let people continue to decide your day for you, or take some time to reset the rules and control it yourself? When you decide to set better boundaries, use these five tips to help you transform your life for the better!
About the Author
Caitlin Sinclair is the Property Manager at Portside Ventura Harbor with 5 years of property management experience and many more in Customer Service. She shares her passion for her community and looks forward to making Portside Ventura Harbor the place to call home.