Everyone has their own boundaries, but some people’s boundaries on the same issue or subject may differ from others. Setting boundaries is something that we do continuously in our daily lives: e.g. at work or in our relationships. When you suffer from mental complaints, stress or anxiety, setting boundaries is incredibly important. However, we do see that these people find this more difficult than usual.
Sensing your limits
To better set your boundaries, the first essential step is to become aware of your limits. Often you only become aware of this after you or someone else has crossed it. Even though this might be uncomfortable, it also offers the opportunity to learn from it. Try to think of what happened and what preceded the situation. Were there physical signs that indicated that you were reaching your limit? For example: did you sleep badly that night, do you have a lot on your mind or is there perhaps something else going on? All of these factors can contribute to reaching your limit. It is important to learn from this, in order to be able to sense your limits better in the future. It is also important to realize that boundaries can change.
Setting your boundaries is important in many social settings. Setting boundaries can provide peace of mind. We notice that when people are better at setting their boundaries, this also has positive consequences in the long term. Below you can find a few tips that can help you set your boundaries to others.
1. Talk in the first person
When there is tension, we sometimes tend to react angrily or blame others. We are often quick to point the finger and put emphasis on the other. When this happens, try to talk in the first person.
2. Focus on the present
In addition to the first point, we’re sometimes tempted to dig up old skeletons. We mention that someone always does this. The situation then becomes bigger than it really is, causing tension to rise. Focus on the present and don’t bring up old issues. State that you don’t appreciate what someone is doing right now and that they’re crossing your boundary.
3. Explain your boundaries
It is then important to explain why your limit has been reached. Note that you do not have to justify where your limit lies, but that you can explain to them how it makes you feel, or what effect it has on you. This gives the other person more clarity about how you feel.
4. State your expectations
After indicating that someone has crossed your line, it is also very important to mention what you would like to do. It’s easy to just talk about what you don’t want, but it’s important to indicate what you do want.
5. State the consequences
We also often see that people do set their boundaries or indicate their limits, but then allow others to cross them. That’s why it is important to also express the consequences if someone still ignores your limits or boundaries.
Let’s illustrate the above points with an example:
You could say the following:
“You never let me speak. You interrupt me every time we have a discussion. It doesn’t make any sense, never mind!”
Instead, try to set your boundaries like this:
“I don’t like that you’re not letting me speak right now. This makes me feel like I’m not being heard. I would appreciate it if you give me the space to express my opinion now and in the future, just as I have just given you the space to express yours. Otherwise, I won’t be able to have a decent conversation with you.”
In conclusion, it is very important to first sense your own limits and then clearly set your boundaries with others. Hopefully the above tips will help you with that!