Your relationships are mirror images of the view you have of yourself and are a direct reflection of the relationships you have in your life. You are an integral part of any relationship and the role you play is crucial as to whether or not your relationships are successful, healthy, thriving or unhealthy and withering. Without relationships in your life, you would not know what upsets you, what excites you, when to make a choice that’s in your best interest or what things trigger an automatic negative or positive response in you. That’s why it’s important to set strong boundaries around what you will do, accept, and give.
“Without a strong concept of your boundaries, you can easily react and respond in ways that don’t honor the person you truly are”
You may see some of these behaviors displayed when you or someone you know doesn’t have strong boundaries:
- Appearing timid and fearful in unfamiliar settings
- Constantly “busy” with rarely any time to take care of yourself
- Agreeing to do things out of guilt even when you’re screaming “NO” inside
- Generously gives of her time and energy but has difficulty receiving compliments or gifts from others
- Often says, “I don’t know” or “It doesn’t matter” when faced with making a choice/decision
- Worries about making mistakes or overly concerned with what others will think of her
Any of the above behaviors are merely smoke screens to hide the fact that boundaries are weak. To clear the fog, here are some personal boundary success tips you can use to replace weak boundary behaviors:
- Focus on your resources, gifts, talents and abilities. List all the things you’ve been able to accomplish. This is your success sheet. By focusing on your past successes, you build confidence and are motivated to try something new.
- Spend some time in quiet reflection to think about what you want to attract into your life. It may be easier at first to list all the things you don’t want and then turn them into positive things you do want.
- Learn to accept compliments/gifts graciously. Don’t say, “you shouldn’t have” or “this old thing – I’ve had it forever”. Simply, say, “thank you” and nothing else. You may have to practice refraining from embellishment a few times until you get comfortable accepting gifts and compliments graciously.
- Whenever there’s a slip up in setting your boundaries, look at it as a learning opportunity and move on. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. The important thing is that you recognize the mistake and grow from it.
- Acknowledge all feelings – anger, sadness, anxiety, fear, and depression. All of your feelings are valid. Either confide in a trusted friend or write your thoughts in a journal so that they don’t linger on them and allow them to derail your efforts.
- Avoid negative self-talk. Don’t call yourself “lazy”, “stupid, or say things like, “I never do anything right, I’m such a screw up”. Your words become your thoughts and your thoughts become your actions. So, be careful of the words you use so that the words you say to yourself don’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Your personal boundary is the foundation for every relationship, interaction and reaction you have. Strong personal boundaries lay the groundwork for how you treat yourself and how you allow others to treat you. To learn more about boundaries, I invite you to join our self-care circle and get your FREE special report, Building Strong Boundaries to Create Breathing Space in Your Hectic Life.
Gladys M. Anderson, helps nurses, teachers, social workers, therapists and other care-giving women to set limits so they have more time, more joy and more energy for self-care.