How To Set Healthy Personal Boundaries

If we don’t learn how to set personal boundaries, we risk being abused and taken advantage of. They also help us express our personality and show who we are.

However, not everyone is able to explain to others what are their limits of tolerance. For instance, people raised in broken families, often don’t have a well-developed sense of themselves and lack confidence. They are easily influenced by others, emotionality unstable and their happiness depends on someone else’s opinion. As a result, they cannot set healthy boundaries with others and can’t tell what’s not OK for them especially when it comes to someone they love. Sadly, they are not the only ones who experience such difficulties.

Below you can read tips on how to set healthy boundaries:

1. You have to be aware of what kind of boundaries you want to set.

To do that you could write down your reasons. This way you’ll get a more profound understanding of your needs and why you expect people to treat you in a certain way. This list could also serve as a reminder of why you’ve made some choices. Include all behaviors you consider unacceptable like stealing, calling you names, pressuring you to do something you don’t want to etc. So if you fall victim to someone’s bad character you’ll know what to do.

2. Also, you should use reason (not emotions) to figure out what your boundaries are.

You should be careful about the way you verbalize them too. Stick to reality without overthinking a situation, accusing others, or becoming defensive. It’s better to explain “I don’t want you to drive. I don’t think it’s safe to drive because you’ve been drinking,” instead of starting an argument by saying “I hate that you’re drinking again! You know you have to drive us home. I can’t stand you!”

3. Talk about your boundaries.

It is easy if you interact with people whose way of thinking is similar to yours. But if you have to deal with individuals whose character is different or who come from a different background, you’ll need to find the right way to tell them what you can accept and what you can’t.

4. Influence from your social environment also could be an obstacle to establishing boundaries.

For example, your colleagues often work overtime but you think this is bad for your health. However, you don’t want to get into conflict with them that’s why you also stay late. However, this is a mistake. You should find a polite way to explain what you think and act according to your needs, not according to someone else’s.

5. Remember our boundaries reveal who we are and what behavior we expect from others.

They don’t have anything to do with making someone a better person. So if despite having set your boundaries the others still don’t take them seriously, end the relationship.

Normally, all people have some kind of boundaries. So, you have to find the balance between yours and the boundaries of others.

However, there is one exception to this rule.

People who are addicted to alcohol or drugs tend not to have personal limits. They are takers and hardly ever give anything to others.

If a person from your close circle is an alcoholic or addict (your spouse, parent, child, friend) – sooner or later you’ll have to admit that without setting strict boundaries, you might be consumed by their never ending needs that are emotionally draining.

That’s why below there are a few more tips on how to act with them.

1. Addicts could cause dangerous situations and create an unsafe environment. Very often their behavior gets out of control when they

  • Physically abuse people
  • Threaten, scream, curse, humiliate
  • Damage property
  • Drive after using alcohol or drugs
  • Behave irresponsibly (especially with children)
  • Use drugs and alcohol at home

If you witness and/or become involved in any of the situations listed above you’d better leave it and inform the police.

2. You can’t stop an addict (even if you love them) from drinking or taking drugs.

What you can do, however, is determine how tolerant you could be to their problems. Don’t feel bad or unsupportive if you want to leave as soon as your loved one starts using alcohol or drugs. It’s actually wiser not to witness the ugly scenes that might take place.

If you want to help such a person you could discuss the problem when he/she is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Try explaining the severity of their situation and tell them you want to help. However, make it clear you won’t take the consequences of their addiction.

3. Very often these people lack practical stuff like money, home, and transportation.

However, even if you are willing to help them you should remember two things:

You’re not obliged to provide these things, it all depends on your own personal choice. If you decide to help you shouldn’t let the other person abuse your kindness.

4. Another important detail related to boundaries is that you do not always need to explain yourself.

Addicts have their own level of perception and might just not be able to understand you. What you could do, however, is act according to your boundaries. This way others will know what you could or couldn’t accept.

Lastly, it’s important to set limits which guarantee you will be treated with respect. They are a key factor for self-preservation, especially if you live in an unhealthy environment. They also help us build successful relationships with others and are a sign that we love and respect who we are.

If you can’t set your boundaries you could seek professional support.

There are special groups, counseling, coaching and many more sources that could provide support if you need it. Try telling your friends or family about the problem and ask them to help you.

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