If you’ve read my previous post, on how to create boundaries in relationships then you may be wondering now that you know what your personal limits are, how do you express to others your newfound limits and boundaries?
I want to preface this by saying if this is new for you or if you’ve had loose boundaries before with others it is completely normal to be nervous and maybe even a little doubtful about not only creating boundaries but enforcing them as well. Think about it, if you’ve spent a large majority of your time letting people do and say what they want, of course, it would be difficult to change the habit and dynamic.
With that being said now that you have created your new limits how do you enforce them with others?
As a preliminary step, I want you to get real with yourself about what you hope to gain by building stronger boundaries. Are you hoping for greater self-respect and peace, stronger relationships, balance in relationships, and pride in yourself by standing up for yourself? Don’t skip this step because it is essential. How will your life and the way you feel about yourself be different? How will your relationships be different? Ok, got it? Good, now on to how do you enforce boundaries with those around you?
Ok, the first thing to remember is that your boundaries are about YOU your limits, and what you feel comfortable with. They are the things you want to put in place to not only take care of yourself but also get your needs met. When verbally expressing them to others they should be stated calmly, short and simple. Keep in mind that this is not a debate with the other person or a compromise of what they think your limits should be. They simply are your limits and what you need. With that being said, here are a few examples of how you can enforce your boundaries with others.
Scenario: A family member calls you during work hours when you are unavailable.
Your need: Minimal personal interruptions during work hours
Boundary: “Hey, I’m not available between 9am-5pm during the week, I’ll call you when I get off work”
Scenario: A friend is consistently late when you have dinner dates
Your need: Your time to be taken into consideration, your friend to arrive on the agreed upon time or them to communicate when they will be late
Boundary: “Hey, I’ve noticed you’ve run late for a few of our dinners. Can you let me know when you’ll be late?”
Scenario: A co-worker is inquiring about your salary
Your need: You want to keep your finances personal
Boundary: “Hey, I don’t discuss my finances at work”.
The first thing I want you to realize, from PsychCentral, is that this is not to tell people that they are wrong, bad or what they should do. This is a statement of what you will do, what you want, and how you will behave if this person behaves a certain way. Remember the only person you can control is yourself. You are not responsible for anyone else’s actions or their response to your boundary. Also, their response has nothing to do with you.
Alright, now let’s say you’ve set the boundary, made your intentions clear, and what you want. After you’ve clearly and calmly expressed what you want if others continue to disregard your needs, then your next step is action. As I’ve mentioned before, the only person you can control is yourself. Which leads me to consequences. If this person continues to push or not respect the limits that you’ve created, what will be the consequence? That could look like a number of things. That could mean you no longer answer their calls(in the case of telling others you are unavailable), locking your office door, or putting a do not disturb note on your door(to prevent interruptions), it could be disengagement and letting the other person know you can continue when calm(in the case of someone speaking to you in a manner that makes you feel icky), or flat out ending or limiting contact in cases where your boundaries continue to be disregarded. Whether you express these consequences to others or keep them as mental notes to yourself on how you will behave is up to you.
Lastly, how do you handle the resistance you may receive from others when you begin these new habits and set these new limits? Of course when the dynamic of any relationship changes there will be some resistance to the new changes. My best advice for managing this is to make it about you, your limits, and what YOU feel comfortable with as PsychCentral mentions, letting the other person know there is a possibility that you are wrong. Your boundaries are put in place to take care of you, allow the balance of needs in your relationships and help you get what you need. Your boundaries as mentioned from PsychCentral(can you tell I loved this article) should be short and simple, stated calmly based on what you need so that they are not in a position of debate or swaying from the other person. It will take some practice for both you and the other person to get used to your new boundary but will time the dynamic can change.
When you do not create boundaries in your relationships not only does it disregard your needs but it creates an imbalance in relationships. Which can lead to resentment, anger, and of course unmet needs, which leaves you with the lower hand in relationships. It prevents you from getting what you want and need from relationships and can diminish the trust and respect you have for yourself. By creating boundaries in your relationships not only are you respecting your wants, needs, and limits you are also creating the foundation for healthier, stronger, and more respectful relationships.
So how will you start to create and enforce your boundaries in your relationships? Comment below. And if you recognize that creating and maintaining boundaries is difficult for you and would like support, book a complimentary 30-minute telephone consultation with me so we can chat about what is getting in your way.