• Jissette Nieves

Protecting Your Space

Establishing boundaries


It’s tempting to assume that people know what we want—but even our significant others and best friends can’t read our minds, or vice versa.


It might sound counterintuitive to set boundaries for a closer relationship, but talking about what is and isn’t okay for you is the secret ingredient for strong (and lasting) friendships and romances.


Often, we don’t say no to people because we’re afraid it might offend them or create tension in a relationship. We’re taught to be kind to others, but we ultimately need to find the balance between being kind and being firm. Otherwise, we give others permission to take advantage of us.


The only person that should be making decisions for you, is you. If someone or something doesn’t feel right to you, listen to your instincts. You know yourself better than anyone else

Standing up for yourself and your time can make a huge impact on your well-being and life satisfaction. As this is a topic many of us struggle with, let’s discuss the art of boundary setting so we can spend less energy on people-pleasing.

The word “boundary” can be a bit misleading. It conveys the idea of keeping yourself separate. But boundaries are actually connecting points since they provide healthy rules for navigating relationships, intimate or professional.

Boundaries are here to help us

We can really think of setting boundaries as fortifying our relationships with others rather than building walls to keep people out. But boundaries do another important thing for us. They can clue us in to behavior that might be harmful. Although you may be tempted to think of boundaries as keeping people out, it is more useful to think of them as building a fortified house. You would not want a house in which the door is always wide open, nor would you want one in which the door never opens. Having a house in which we can control the door opening and closing allows us to live safely while still connecting with the world. Similarly, having flexible boundaries allows us to let people in when needed and protect ourselves when danger lurks outside.

When setting boundaries, it isn’t your responsibility to make other people happy.

Know that you have a right to personal boundaries.


You not only have the right, but you must take responsibility for how you allow others to treat you. Your boundaries act as filters permitting what is acceptable in your life and what is not. If you don't have boundaries that protect and define you, as in a strong sense of identity, you tend to derive your sense of worth from others.


To avoid this situation, set clear and decisive limits so that others will respect them, then be willing to do whatever it takes to enforce them.


Interestingly, it's been shown that those who have weak boundaries themselves tend to violate the boundaries of others.

Why is it important to set boundaries?

  • To practice self-care and self-respect

  • To communicate your needs in a relationship

  • To make time and space for positive interactions

  • To set limits in a relationship in a way that is healthy

Tips For Boundary Setting


Understand why you need to set a boundary.

Many people struggle with setting a boundary because they’re not aware that a boundary is needed. A good way to tell whether or not you need a boundary set is to examine your own emotional and thought response. Ask yourself, is this something I really want to do? Why am I doing this? Am I feeling guilty? Am I feeling resentful? What am I sacrificing by not having this boundary? Examples of boundaries include: saying no when you don’t want to do something, not doing things out of guilt or the need to please someone else, listening to your body and following through on what it needs, asking for further instruction on something you’re confused about, etc.


Be straightforward and firm, but not rude.

Once you’ve clearly identified your need for a boundary and what that boundary is, be straightforward to whomever you’re communicating it with. We often feel that we can spare someone’s feelings by being vague or avoiding conflict, but the most loving approach to relationships is to be direct, honest, and mean what you say.


Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Be impeccable with your words. In talking authentically with others, they will be able to respect what you say and know where you stand. Consistency is the key to maintaining integrity of your boundaries. Act consistent with your words and others will recognize that you have a strong belief in them. It will also build self-esteem because you will trust yourself more when you set these boundaries

Expect the discomfort!

Unfortunately, setting boundaries doesn’t always feel good. In fact, it can feel incredibly awkward or even painful. You might feel guilty asking for what you need, even if the other person seems receptive. Additionally, some people might not respect your boundaries. This pushback can feel disheartening, especially if you aren’t expecting it. Remember that this doesn’t mean you need to back down. Discomfort can sometimes be a part of the growth process.


When setting boundaries, it isn’t your responsibility to make other people happy. It’s certainly a nice bonus, but if that’s your main focus, you aren’t actually setting an actual boundary- you’re placating or trying to compromise with other people.


Trust yourself and your feelings.

The only person that should be making decisions for you, is you. If someone or something doesn’t feel right to you, listen to your instincts. You know yourself better than anyone else.


The word “boundary” can be a bit misleading. It conveys the idea of keeping yourself separate. But boundaries are actually connecting points since they provide healthy rules for navigating relationships, intimate or professional.

These are just a few ways to begin to build the practice of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries with others and yourself. Remember, boundaries keep you safe in the world and it is essential for helping us to connect more authentically and fully with others. It can be challenging, but it’s an essential part of self-respect.


Also, this isn’t on the list, but definitely worth mentioning. Taking care of yourself is super important to being able to notice and set your boundaries. When you are getting enough sleep, exercise, eating healthily, taking time for yourself, and in general, feeling resourced, it’s much easier to voice your truth. So make sure to attend to your self-care even when you’re traveling or out of your regular routine. Remember that even though boundaries define limits, clarifying and expressing your limits is critical to nourishing your connection with yourself and others.


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