This blog post shares practical strategies for how to set boundaries as an act of self love to live a happy, balanced, and fulfilled live.
It seems like someone is telling us we need to set boundaries everywhere we turn. But what does that even mean? And why are boundaries so important? How do we set boundaries?
Honoring Our Authentic Self
Other people’s opinions can easily influence the choices we make in life. Sometimes, we bend to what will make others feel happy and loved rather than listening to what our heart tells us. Holding back because of the opinions of others is harmful to our personal growth, personal development, and mental wellbeing.
The risk of always having a high regard for others’ needs first is we may find ourselves with mental health issues, low self-esteem, a lack of confidence, or unhealthy relationships. Even worse, we may not recognize the person staring back at us in the bathroom mirror.
We engage in a healthy relationship with ourselves by staying true to our authentic selves.
Staying true to our authentic self means doing a daily practice of honoring and accepting what we want, need, and desire, despite outside pressure from others. Aligning with our authentic self is how we set boundaries.
Being in a Healthy State
It’s essential to be healthy and have a healthy relationship with ourselves first to experience life. We choose to be in a healthy state at any given moment. We must choose to do so if we want to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. Being in a healthy state with ourselves is essentially embracing self love from a space of unconditional love.
Unconditional love is where we have a sense of self-worth, recognizing that our value is independent of external factors. Making this clear distinction between self and others is an essential first step in learning self love. Setting boundaries is a form of self love. First, however, we must remember to set boundaries to respect ourselves – not to offend others. By setting boundaries, we send the message that we value, respect, and love ourselves enough to put our needs first.
Self love means loving ourselves enough to know we are worthy. When we claim our worth, we understand what is best for ourselves and set boundaries to ensure we do everything necessary to protect our peace of mind. Setting boundaries from a space of worthiness creates strong foundations in our authentic ‘self.’ Hence, we make better choices for our lives. For example, if your spouse or friends like staying out late and you need to be at work early in the morning, self love for you may mean ensuring you get enough sleep. Other forms of self love include carving out time from a busy schedule for the small things like face masks, listening to positive affirmations, or meditating in a state of appreciation.
Importance of Self-Love
Although it can be challenging, accepting, embracing and loving ourselves is one of the most important things we can do in life. It’s time, to be honest with ourselves about who we are, how we feel and what we need. We must stop beating ourselves up for everything we’re not and courageously start appreciating everything we are. And we need to remember that not everyone in our lives will always agree with us – but that’s okay.
It is when we do not think about how others will react to us; as a result, we act and do things out of love. As within, so without. Self love is all about the conscious connection with yourself and others. Self love is essential to happiness and a prerequisite to living a healthy and fulfilled life. Without self love, we cannot love others; without self love, happiness remains elusive.
Be the Best Friend
It is so vital that we learn to be our own best friend. But unfortunately, we know how to be our own worst enemy without even realizing it. We crave the love and acceptance of others but forget to give ourselves the same love, consideration, compassion, and attention.
We all have that one person in our lives who we can rely on no matter what-our best friend. However, sometimes we forget that we need to be our own best friend too. If we don’t learn to be our own best friend, we can easily become our own worst enemies. We often seek the love of others while forgetting to love ourselves. Seeking love from others can be a trap that leads to unhappiness.
We must realize that our most significant task is not finding self love but breaking down the barriers we have constructed against it. When we are brave enough to push through these walls – to accept ourselves, despite our negative self-talk – we open the door to more compassionate, empathetic, and intimate relationships with others. Through true self-love we commit to making positive changes in our lives and make healthy choices for ourselves.
If we always allow others to decide what we can handle, what we should and shouldn’t feel, and how we should react, we will never be able to stand as our own person. Learning how to be my best friend has been the hardest of all the life lessons I have learned and re-learned over the years. But it is also the most important because I believe that nothing makes us more compassionate towards others than compassion towards ourselves. And if we are not our own best friends, then who will be?
What is a Boundary?
Boundaries are what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable in your relationships with others. They establish what’s allowed and what’s off-limits in your personal and professional life. Boundaries are rules and limits we set to honor ourselves. They’re a part of being assertive. The lines we draw around our thoughts, actions, behaviors, time, and space help us to maintain our boundaries and to have a healthy balance in life. For example, suppose you don’t have any rules about how you communicate. In that case, you may find that you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed by how other people share with you.
Boundaries are a critical part of positive self-care. Boundaries are the limits you set for yourself and others that help you care for your emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.
Boundaries help you feel safe within your own skin. When you respect your boundaries, you are protecting yourself from other people’s unsolicited opinions and behaviors. You are also protecting yourself from transferring your feelings onto others. Setting boundaries is an exercise in our true strengths and there are effective ways to approach establishing boundaries in our existing relationships.
Why are Boundaries Important?
We all have our boundaries. They protect us from getting hurt, both physically and emotionally. And while it might seem like setting a boundary is simply about keeping other people out, it’s really about respecting and caring for ourselves. Think of it this way: if you wouldn’t let somebody do something to your best friend, child, significant other, mother, etc., why would you allow them to do it to you? Setting a boundary means saying that you matter just as much as anyone else does.
Boundaries and Values
Setting boundaries is a way of embracing what we value. When we embrace what we value, we live from our values. We set boundaries to shield and honor our values. For example, if you live from a value of commitment, then time, energy, and space are essential. When someone is repeatedly late or overstays their welcome, you would ultimately set a boundary and communicate that boundary to the other person. Thus living from your values of commitment, self-respect, self-discipline, freedom, etc.
It’s essential to set boundaries to let a person know where we end and they begin. If they want or need more from us than we’re able or willing to give, it’s essential to know that and set appropriate boundaries. By setting boundaries, we safeguard ourselves from getting overwhelmed and spread too thin. In addition, when we have clear boundaries, we consciously live from our values.
Setting boundaries helps us feel self-confident and consciously engaged in our lives. They provide structure and help us manage our lives. Besides setting boundaries with others, we also set boundaries with ourselves. We might want to do something we know is wrong or harmful, so we set a boundary as a way of living our values. For example, I know eating a chocolate bar every day is not healthy. So, from a space of living my value of health, I restrict indulgence in chocolate bars to eating one Snickers a month.
How to Set Boundaries
Without boundaries, we can become overwhelmed and lose ourselves. We all have different areas in our lives where we need to set boundaries. Whether it’s with our time, our energy, or how much we share with others, setting healthy boundaries is an integral part of taking care of ourselves. It can be challenging to know where to start when it comes to setting boundaries. We might worry that we’ll offend someone, or they won’t understand why we need space. But the truth is, healthy boundary-setting starts with living from a value of respect for ourselves.
Setting boundaries gives us needed energy and space. However, to effectively set boundaries, we must permit ourselves to be honest. Being honest and living from values of honesty and authenticity means being who we are without feeling guilty. For example, telling someone, you don’t want to do something doesn’t make you a mean person. Instead, it means you need to spend your time and energy on other things.
One of the biggest struggles people have with setting boundaries is a fear of losing people in their lives because they’re honest with them. We must put things out there, and it’s a risk—but it’s also a relief. It’s a relief, to be honest about what we need to feel good about ourselves. Living from a value of personal fulfillment or self-expression is liberating.
Preparing to Set Boundaries
Preparing ourselves to set boundaries is a great way to build confidence. Preparing starts with creating space for ourselves. Creating space for ourselves is a powerful tool and includes preparing to live from our values consciously. When setting boundaries with others, preparing before talking with the other person is a good thing. The best way to prepare is to first set aside enough time to set goals and take care of your own needs.
These simple steps are a great resource:
Be honest with yourself. Commit to jot down ideas, journal, and mind map what you think and feel about the relationship. You can ask yourself,
- What am I thinking and feeling about my role in the relationship?
- How am I consciously living from my values?
- Where am I not consciously living from my values?
- What am I thinking and feeling about the other person’s role in the relationship?
- What do I need?
Be honest about how you see the relationship and your role in it. Take the time to flush this out and be sure that the information you want to focus on relates to the boundary you will set and not on blaming or attacking the other person. Setting boundaries is about our needs, not about what the other person will think or how they will feel. It is always important to be kind.
Give yourself space and time to think through what you will say and then say them out loud. Then, practice how you will set your boundaries with other people. For example, you can speak your truth while driving in your car, in the shower, or in front of the bathroom mirror. Whatever you need to do to say the words out loud will help you to build confidence in setting boundaries.
My strategy is to look at myself in the bathroom mirror and talk through it like I am talking to the other person. It feels awkward and uncomfortable at first, but once you create space for yourself to practice saying things that are difficult for you to say out loud, it becomes easier. It becomes easier because you can safely speak your truth. You can speak your truth and focus on the needed compassion for yourself—this is self love.
Establish a time and a place to discuss with the other person. When you feel prepared to set a boundary with another person, communicate. Let the other person know there are some key things you would like to discuss with them.
When we feel hurt, frustrated, or fearful, we often retreat until we feel ready to emerge again. Sometimes we think it is not worth discussing, or we may have blown things out of proportion because of a bad day, and we abandon the reality that boundaries are necessary. We must hold our power. Please don’t give it away. Setting boundaries is healthy and necessary for a healthy relationship with ourselves and others.
Healthy relationships require communication and boundaries. Each person must be respected in order to maintain a healthy tone in the relationship. Respect is how we create space for everyone to express their truth.
You can express your desire to discuss the relationship with the other person by asking when would be a good time for them. You should make it clear that you need to talk soon, but be patient and understand that the other person needs time too.
If you are experiencing interpersonal conflict in your relationship, this is a helpful tool to confront the issues:
Setting boundaries is an act of self love. When we set boundaries, we live our values from a space of worthiness. Through asserting our boundaries consistently, we consciously manage our lives, taking a significant step toward a healthier, happier relationship with ourselves and the world around us.
Our boundaries keep us from doing things that we regret or could hurt us in the long run. They are our safety net; if we plan to live a healthy and happy life, we must respect them. It takes effort and courage to set boundaries, but ultimately the payoff is worth it.
Self-Love is Living a Fulfilled Life
If you are an educator, parent, or grandparent and looking for practical strategies to use with children, concepts to understand, and ideas that can be easily implemented about how to create space for self and others, you have landed in the right spot.
Children learn how to solve problems the same way they learn how to read, write, and add. Like reading, writing, and adding, there are three specific components to solving problems. These are teachable skills children can learn at any age.