If you’re anything like me, there have been times in your life when you have felt betrayed and hurt by someone you thought you could trust. You may question yourself: where did I go wrong? How can I be sure this doesn’t happen again? While it is tempting to put up walls to ensure that you don’t go through hurt, rejection or betrayal again, that’s not the answer. Closing yourself off from all experiences because of injured emotions does you more harm than good.
So what IS the answer? Setting healthy boundaries allows you to interact with others in a mutually respectful way. They protect your sense of personal identity without getting overwhelmed by the demands of others. Here are the keys to setting healthy boundaries:
Define your personal boundaries. If you aren’t clear on your personal boundaries, it’s going to be hard for others to follow them. Think of your emotions as a compass to determine where boundary lines should be drawn. Emotional discomfort tells you boundaries need to be put in place.
Communicate your boundaries. Once you’ve had time to reflect on your personal boundaries, you need to communicate what they are to others. Those you live and work with aren’t mind readers (but, wouldn’t it be awesome if they WERE???), and will rely on you to state your boundaries. You may start this conversation by saying, “I feel hurt when…” or “It makes me uncomfortable when…”
Stick with it. You have chosen and communicated your boundaries, and now you need to stick with them. Be diligent! Be sure that you are holding others AND yourself to your boundaries. It’s okay to let them know if they have crossed the line. Your concversation might sound like this: “I feel hurt when you…. I will need some time away to work through my feelings.” Only through communication and consistency will others learn what we expect of them.