This week I have a guest post from life coach and blogger Jen Smith.
Her post is about how to set boundaries with people in relationships. I wrote about boundaries in my article ‘3 Mindsets to Maintain Healthy Boundaries in Relationships’ as this was something that used to affect most of my relationships in a negative way.
But in this post, Jen goes further into the topic and talks more about HOW you can set boundaries in a practical way and get more control of how others treat you. So if you are someone who values the desires of other people over your own, then I think you’ll find this useful!
Over to Jen…
Do you feel that you have healthy boundaries with others or is this something you struggle with? I have noticed in myself and others; especially us ‘spiritual people’ a tendency to sometimes blur those boundaries. Here are some ways to maintain healthy boundaries that I have learned:
1. We Teach Others How to Treat Us
I used to find it very difficult to challenge people when they behaved badly towards me. I would justify their behaviour, “try and see the bigger picture” or maybe convince myself that I was somehow to blame. I think a pitfall in the area of personal development is using the idea of taking one hundred per cent responsibility to beat yourself up or to avoid confrontation. Another pitfall is thinking that it is “not spiritual” to be angry or stick up for ourselves.
We teach others how to treat us.
You need to realise that you are worth treating well. If you don’t realise that, how will others? If someone treats you badly, you need to let them know and nip it in the bud. Sometimes people don’t realise how they are behaving or the impact of their behaviour on you. By communicating your feelings you can provide the other person with a learning experience. Obviously, people don’t always take feedback well and may not want a learning experience 😉 but the most important part of this process is learning that your feelings are important and valuable and taking a stand for yourself.
2. Don’t Step Over Issues
I say this from personal experience. As I said when others treated me badly I used to find it hard to deal with it. I would feel nervous and bad. I would analyse the situation to death. If I am honest though, blaming myself was an easier way (to me) than confronting the other person. It wasn’t their fault anyway, was it?! However stepping over the issue never helps anyone. Eventually, by stepping over more and more issues with someone I would feel resentful. I would then become disproportionally angry about things that happened or withdraw. It wasn’t a healthy way to be for myself or others.
Try and deal with situations as they arise. It is much easier than dealing with a backlog! It gets easier with practice and is the healthier and more straight forward way in the long run.
3. Set Healthy Boundaries First
”What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Rather than closing the stable door when the horse has bolted, it is much better to create healthy boundaries with others from the off. As the quote above points out, what you do is more important than what you say. It is commonly said that we have ten seconds to make a good first impression with others. We have all met people who without them saying a word have convinced us they are not worth talking to. Your body language, the way you present yourself and self-talk all influence how others perceive you. Do you create a positive or negative impression when people meet you? What are you teaching people about how to treat you? Start telling yourself that you are worth taking care of and take actions to support this.
4. Let Others Know You Have Changed
As I said above if we can start relationships with people on a healthy footing all is well and good. However, there will probably be people in your life who are used to dealing with the “old you”. You will need to re-educate them about how to deal with you. I have found sharing my experiences with others has been a helpful way to do this. If you share honestly and authentically about how you’ve been and how you plan to set healthy boundaries, I have found others are interested. Many people struggle with the same issue and you may be able to support each other. Many people may be relieved that you have “got it”. It can be very tiring dealing with People-Pleasers!
5. Let Unhealthy Relationships Go
Sometimes other people don’t want us to change or to become more empowered. They might feel it threatens the relationship we have had with them. They are used to your sweet persona that doesn’t stick up for themselves or feel good about themselves and they quite like things that way! The new, assertive and healthy you isn’t as much fun for them. It can take a little while to get used to any change, but if people in your life are consistently trying to pull you back or convince you that you don’t need to do the things you are doing, it might be time to let them go. This can be hard, but by letting unhealthy relationships go you leave room for new relationships, with people who appreciate you for who you really are.
6. The Most Important Relationship You Have Is With Yourself
Ultimately the most important relationship you have is with yourself. In my experience, most of us have some room to appreciate ourselves more. Get in the habit of appreciating yourself and cultivating a good relationship with yourself; treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. It will feel good and loving yourself is one of the best things you can do to improve your life.