Everyone benefits from having healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries are a key component and a foundational element to having high self-esteem. The two go hand in hand. The reverse is true, meaning unhealthy or nonexistence boundaries are a sign of someone with low self-esteem. Sometimes we don’t realize our boundaries are unhealthy. However, if you’ve ever agreed to do something you really don’t want to do or have found yourself in an awkward or uncomfortable situation, then you may have unhealthy boundaries. No worries, I’ve got you covered -my FREE healthy boundaries worksheet and guide will show you how to set your boundaries step by step.
First though, the 101 on personal boundaries.
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A personal boundary is a rule or limit we set for ourselves. The boundary tells other people what behavior we will and won’t allow from them. This is why setting healthy boundaries is important for everyone. Both sides of the relationship benefit by knowing how each other wants to be treated. Because the last time I looked, people couldn’t read each other’s minds.
Signs Of Unhealthy Boundaries
I touched on a couple of signs in the introduction. For example, saying yes to doing something that you wanted to say no to can create all kinds of trouble.
Maybe your boss always asks you to stay late on a Friday night and you say yes. He now expects you to do it as you haven’t set a boundary and told him that you will stay late sometimes and not always on a Friday evening.
It is great to have friends to chat to but if you have a friend calling nearly ever other evening and chatting for an hour or more and eating into your free time, you will become annoyed and irritable. The friend may not realize and needs to be told that you need time to yourself.
Or you have a family member that expects you to drop what you are doing whenever they ask you to?
People will continue to behave a certain way with you unless you tell them otherwise. Continuing to ignore your own needs and feeling that what other people want is more important than what you want is a sure sign that you have no boundaries and low self-worth.
Signs Of Healthy Boundaries
Someone who has set personal boundaries and stuck to them will experience less hassle, less resentment and they will honour their needs.
For example, going back to the friend that calls and speaks for a long time on a regular basis and disregards your time. A person with healthy boundaries would either not experience this at all or if they did they would nip it in the bud. They would let their friend know that calling every other day to speak for long periods of time is not acceptable. A boundary would be set e.g. “call me on Wednesday evening where I will be able to give my full attention to you for 20 to 30 minutes or so.”
Different Types Of Boundaries
People’s behavior isn’t just about them asking you to babysit a lot or taking up your time on the phone.
Telling people that you won’t lend your belongings when asked is setting another type of boundary.
Your personal space can sometimes be invaded when people get too close or become touchy-feely.
Scenarios will be different depending on you and your circumstances.
It boils down to how you feel. Feeling uncomfortable, awkward, resentful or generally miserable is not the best way to live your life.
Make a commitment now to set your boundaries. From there you will start to feel better and your self-esteem and self-worth will automatically increase.
I created The how to Of Personal Boundaries guide and worksheet to get you started (grab it – it’s FREE!):
Difficulties With Boundary Setting
There will be easier boundaries to set than others. There will be times that you set a boundary and the person will cross it. You must highlight this with them immediately, otherwise you will give the message that you are not serious and it’s okay for them to cross your boundary. It will be even more difficult to re-set it again.
Also, when you express how you feel to someone and tell them what you need but they don’t follow through and continue their old behavior. This scenario is the most difficult and you may get frustrated. My recommendation is don’t get frustrated but instead make a choice:
- Reset your boundary with them again and explain that if they cannot respect your wishes, you will have to re-evaluate your relationship with them
- Distance yourself from them and keep your contact minimal
- Tell them that because they cross your boundaries you will part ways
The choice you make will depend on your relationship with the person. It is possible to accept things we don’t like but are okay with if the person is our partner. But if you do this ensure that you accept fully and do not hold any lingering resentment.
The last choice may seem extreme so let me give you an example of when I finally parted ways with someone. It was not done lightly but at a certain point I knew it had to be done.
For over twenty years I allowed this person to belittle me and scoff at my ideas and achievements. For a long time, I thought I had to put up with them. It wasn’t until I built up my self-worth and self-esteem that I realized I could choose to let them go.
Even then, I still gave them a chance because of who they were in my life. One day, there was an incidence and instead of showing me kindness, understanding, and support, they turned on me. I wasn’t shocked as it was the same reaction and verbal abuse that I had always received. This time though, I knew it would be the last time that I would allow them to treat me like that and that’s when I cut them out of my life.
I put my self-worth and happiness first and I’ve never looked back.
By the way, setting boundaries with family members can be very difficult but not impossible. Remember though, they may be family but that does not give them the freedom to trample across your personal boundaries.
Healthy Boundaries Worksheet And Guide
The guide will ask you to think about your core values. If it is the first time you’ve thought about this and it’s putting you off – don’t let it. All it means is that you think about what is important to you. I’ve given you a BIG list of core values in my guide. Use this to prompt and help you think of your top 5 core values. Relax and take some quiet time. It’s worth it. YOU’RE worth it.
Once you’ve got your core values figured out you can write them on the worksheet. Work through the guide and complete the worksheet.
Writing things down helps to :
- Clarify your thoughts
- Bring it all together
- Keep it clear in your mind
- Remind you to set your boundaries and stick to them
- Keep aligned with your core values
Teach People How To Treat You
When there are clear, healthy boundaries there are happier people and more enjoyable experiences for everyone. Do not expect people to know what you want and instead teach them how you want to be treated. Your self-esteem and self-worth will soar if you do.
And remember, be kind to yourself and others. Share my worksheet and guide with someone if you think they could benefit from it:
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