Boundary setting is about one of the hardest “aldulty” things you can do. To establish healthy boundaries with friends, family members, and others is to confront some of our worst interpersonal fears.
There’s the potential to be rejected, ridiculed, or to become the target of anger. This is why many people avoid setting boundaries, at great personal cost to their own peace. Sometimes it can just feel simpler to sacrifice your own comfort and happiness to avoid the uncomfortable task of setting boundaries.
The good news is that it is possible to set healthy boundaries- the bad news is that yes, it is hard and may cause a shitstorm. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is really no reason anyone should ever hold your efforts to set boundaries against you. And if they do, it’s possible that they aren’t really worth your peace of mind anyways, or that they have a lot of personal work to do on their end (which is their problem and not yours).
Remember- You have the RIGHT to be comfortable in your interactions with other people.
What Are Boundaries and Why Do You Need Them?
Boundaries act as sort of a “set of rules” on what you are comfortable with in an interpersonal relationship. These can help people feel more comfortable, safe, and respected in an interaction. For example, care providers must be masters of boundary-setting with clients in order to maintain professional distance so they can effectively do their jobs.
However, when it comes to boundaries with people you are close with, such as friends and family, the waters muddy a little. Setting boundaries with your family can be especially difficult when you factor in power dynamics and emotions. That being said, these might be the most important boundaries you can set because of the high likelihood of these being the relationships where you get bothered the most.
Ultimately, boundaries are a way to strengthen the quality of relationships by ensuring that bitches be comfortable. This might be as simple as having certain topics be “off-limits”, or it might have to do with physical space.
Boundaries can look like many things, but the key is that they help a person conserve their energy, feel safe, and feel better about themselves and the other person they are communicating with.
A Line in the Sand- Determining Your Boundaries
To set healthy boundaries, you need to determine what yours are.
To do this, reflect on the sorts of issues that come up that make you feel like shit in your interactions. Maybe it’s when people ask when you’re going to have another baby. Maybe it’s people asking invasive questions about your weight. Maybe it’s people smoking in your home. There is such a massive range in things that can prompt boundary setting that it’s impossible to list them all.
Once you’ve determined your boundaries, you can start with the hard stuff. Communicating them to the cunts around you!
How to Communicate and Establish Boundaries
A lot of us get pissy about the way people treat us without actually having the conversation where we say it bothers us. The truth is that some people are fucking oblivious, and we can’t expect them to read our minds.
As an anxious person, it boggles my fucking mind that there are people out there just interacting willy-nilly and not over-analyzing their every word for years to come. I simply cannot relate. However, I can appreciate that some people are not as self-aware as others, and so when someone upsets me I try to think of whether they even had a chance to know that they were putting themselves on my shit list.
Bitch, be cool
The key to communicating your boundaries is to stay calm and try to approach the topic from a neutral place. “I messages” are good for this- so stating “I feel X when Y happens”. People are more likely to be open if you lead by explaining the effect their actions/behavior have on you in a non-judgmental manner.
The reality is that boundary setting can come across as a personal attack if you aren’t careful. Where it all can fall apart is when you’re upset, which prompts the other person to get defensive. It can be really helpful to think of what you want to communicate very carefully, and choose your words wisely. Also, it may help to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. They may act defensive out of surprise or guilt. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are trying to invalidate you.
Toss out your emotional baggage and be a bad bitch
When communicating your boundaries be confident, open and honest. It can make a huge difference for how your message will be received.
Practice saying no. We tend to feel guilted or pressured into things, but life’s too short for that shit. If you don’t want to, and you don’t have to then say no! Hard pass! Fuck no to that shite!
Also try to put aside any feelings of guilt. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty for protecting your space and your peace. All too often we serve up our wellness on a platter for others because we somehow feel responsible for keeping them happy. Sorry sis, but the only person you are truly responsible for happiness-wise is yourself.
Know Your Role in Boundary-Breaking
The truth is, we’ve ALL crossed lines and infringed on boundaries before, even if we don’t realize it. Boundaries are very much influenced by our upbringing, culture, religion, experiences, and really all the things that have molded and shaped us as people.
This means that all of our boundaries look different, and we may not be able to recognize each others without clear directions. This just highlights the importance of honesty and setting healthy boundaries.
The next time you have an argument with someone and you feel attacked, take a moment to consider whether they were just trying to establish a boundary, and perhaps failed in the execution.
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