Self Love Means Setting Boundaries is Necessary

fence in green pasture on foggy morning is symbolic of setting boundaries

This blog post shares practical communication strategies to use when setting boundaries.

Boundaries and Communication

Social skills involve more than just knowing how to communicate. They also include learning how to set boundaries. Boundaries are essential to any healthy relationship, yet they are often overlooked. When we ignore our boundaries, we are left feeling disconnected from ourselves and taken advantage of by others.

Setting boundaries as a social skill is to set boundaries with the people in our lives. Establishing boundaries is essential for maintaining a healthy sense of self, whether it’s setting limits on how much time we spend with certain people or politely saying no to requests that would put us outside of our comfort zone.

Boundaries are based on clear communication. The more specific we are when expressing our boundaries, the more likely they will be respected by others. Setting boundaries is an act of self love and an acquired skill.

Self-Love Means

Self love is something most of us strive for throughout our lives. Self love means valuing ourselves enough to care for ourselves by making better choices to ensure we are happy and healthy. When we love ourselves, we know our worth and naturally want what is best for us. When we know our worth, we set boundaries to protect our peace of mind. Setting boundaries comes from a place of courage and authenticity and stress the importance of self-care. Self love, knowing our worth, courage, and authenticity allow us to make better choices for our lives overall.

Self love is an integral part of our mental health. One of the most important things we can do for our mental health, emotional health, and self-esteem is to establish a daily practice for mental wellbeing. For example, taking care of our needs through simple steps like getting enough sleep, meditating about positive affirmations in a quiet place, practicing body positivity, and making healthy choices may become some favorite ways to practice self love.

At the end of the day, the goal of true self-love is to look at ourselves in the bathroom mirror, see our authentic self with high regard, witness our true strengths, and be in a state of appreciation.

Boundaries as Self Love

Sometimes the phrase “self love” conjures up images of long baths, face masks, and generous servings of your favorite comfort food. While there’s nothing wrong with these self-care ideas, true self love means so much more than only pampering ourselves. It means taking care of our emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing and setting boundaries in our relationships. Boundaries are a form of self love because boundary-less relationships are usually pretty one-sided affairs.

Quotes to Live By (Suzanne Marie)

Emotional and Mental Health

When it comes to self love, one of the most important things we can do is set boundaries. Boundaries are essential for healthy relationships, personal development, and personal growth. Without them, we can feel overwhelmed, taken advantage of, or even trapped. Setting boundaries helps to protect our mental and emotional health. It allows us to say “no” when we need to without feeling guilty. Living with a value for the importance of self-love gives us the space to nurture our wellbeing without worrying about always putting others first.

Positive boundaries show that we love and respect ourselves and are only willing to put up with so much. The word “boundary” comes from the word “bound” in the sense of “bound to.” It means that we’re bound to or grounded in ourselves, committed to our choices, and unwilling to allow others to flow into our emotional and mental space.

Boundaries are Necessary

Setting boundaries is essential for maintaining a healthy sense of self. One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is set boundaries to reach positive changes in our lives. Healthy boundaries are necessary to maintain a healthy sense of self and develop solid and lasting relationships.

Our boundaries are like an invisible fence. We see and feel the fence when we’ve gotten close to it, but that remains apparent even when we sit on the other side. A boundary is a statement of what we will and will not accept in our lives. A boundary is a limit that safeguards us from being taken advantage of, mistreated, or violated. A boundary is a place inside us where we feel free of other people’s expectations, opinions, demands, and wants. Most importantly, our boundaries reflect who we are and what we believe is right (or wrong).

Knowing Our Limits

When we know our limits and stick to them, we clearly communicate that we respect ourselves and expect others to do the same. Setting boundaries is challenging in relationships, especially when we’ve put everyone else’s needs before our own. However, we must learn that caring for ourselves is not selfish – it’s necessary for personal growth and wellbeing. Setting boundaries becomes less challenging when we commit to ourselves in this way.

Boundaries and Relationships

Our boundaries will differ depending on the people we interact with and in what context. For example, we will set different boundaries for our loved ones than the boundaries we set at work with our leaders and colleagues. Each relationship is unique, and we navigate setting boundaries in each connection. For example, some people may get upset if you don’t immediately respond to a message or call them back, and others may be fine when you don’t want to see them for a few weeks. We need to figure out effective ways to set boundaries in each relationship.

Quotes to Live By (Suzanne Marie)

Fears

We often fail to set boundaries because we fear that we’ll lose the relationship if we do. We fear that our loved ones won’t want to be with us if we say no. Or we want to please others by doing what they want, so we deny our own needs. It’s normal to feel fear when setting boundaries.

To rise about the fear, we choose to love ourselves first. Boundaries are an act of self love and setting boundaries is about what we need. Boundaries are something we create that reflect where we end and others begin.

We feel used and mistreated when we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable. These negative feelings are why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.

Brene Brown

Boundaries vs. Control

Different people have different ideas about what healthy boundaries look like. For some people, any kind of limit on their options is unhealthy. This could include time limits, rules about how they behave or even dress code restrictions.

We shouldn’t mistake boundaries for control. However, if someone feels someone close to them is establishing limitations in a controlling manner, there may be underlying issues in the relationship or with the people. We are all on our own journey and sometimes we need to ask ourselves what needs are being fulfilled in our relationships, align ourselves with the life we want to live, and choose the people we want to share our time and energy with for our best interests.

Establishing Boundaries

It’s essential to understand where our boundaries are focused clearly. We set boundaries around strong foundations of self love and respect and they guide how we engage with others physically, verbally, and emotionally. Once we know our limits in these areas, it becomes much easier to stick to them and assert ourselves when necessary.

Our boundaries define what we are and are not comfortable with regarding physical and emotional space. They help us maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves and others and set appropriate expectations. For example, regarding choosing how to spend our time, it is necessary to set boundaries. Setting boundaries around time is a great place to start because they are frequently violated. We must expect to have a busy schedule with family, work, school, or other obligations. Schedules are necessary as we move forward in life. In situations when someone regularly takes advantage of our free time, it is appropriate to set boundaries.

Living a connected life ultimately is about setting boundaries, spending less time and energy hustling and winning over people who don’t matter, and seeing the value of working on cultivating connections with family and close friends.

Brene Brown

Everyone’s boundaries are different. This article is a great resource and explores how to take care of your own needs by explaining six types of boundaries with questions to ask yourself when you want to set boundaries:

The Science of People

Boundaries Change

Our boundaries will change over time as we grow and change and get to know ourselves more. It is natural and normal for boundaries to change. When our boundaries shift, it’s a sign that we are changing, growing, and learning more about ourselves and what we want. For example, we may decide to set goals for ourselves or take up a new hobby, train for a marathon, learn a new language, join a fitness class, or go back to school. With these changes, we need to revisit our boundaries and possibly set new boundaries in our relationships. It’s empowering and liberating to change our boundaries whenever we want, but it might take practice to figure out how to do this clearly with family members and friends.

How to Set Boundaries

Having healthy boundaries means that we set rules for how others can treat us. Setting boundaries is an integral part of taking care of ourselves. When we set clear boundaries, we are more likely to have healthy relationships and personal growth. In addition, boundaries give us the courage to stand up for ourselves. Unfortunately, setting effective boundaries can be difficult. Sometimes we are told that it is unfair or unreasonable to do so when people do not respect our boundaries.

Eleven Tips to Setting Boundaries

  • Recognize that your needs and feelings are not more important than other people’s. 
  • Show that you mean what you say. Have confidence in your right to have your views taken seriously while respecting that others also have opinions and rights of equal worth. 
  • Speak calmly and confidently. 
  • Take responsibility for your life and its direction. Tell others how you feel and what you need. Believe in yourself.
  • Consider other people’s needs as well as your own.
  • Set limits and stick to them. Value yourself enough to say ‘no.’ You are within your rights to say ‘no’ to an unreasonable request. 
  • Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for putting your needs first. If you don’t look after yourself, no one else can. You are entitled to respect yourself and to be treated with consideration by the adults around you, even if it means there is a temporary upset. 
  • Know your triggers. We all have things that bother us or make us uncomfortable. Knowing our triggers, we can be prepared for how to deal with them when they come up. 
  • Communicate assertively. If you struggle to say no to people, I highly recommend rehearsing how you’re going to turn them down. Research suggests that practicing our assertive statements will dramatically increase how confident we feel in those situations.
  • Make decisions that are best for you.
  • Describe Your Boundaries

Preparing to Set Boundaries

Take time for yourself to reflect.

Taking time to get clarity around our limits and acceptable behaviors is an essential first step to setting healthy boundaries in our relationships.

Journaling or making a mind map are great ways to clarify our boundaries. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What would you like your boundaries to look like? 
  • What behaviors are not acceptable to you? 
  • How much space do you need? 
  • How much time do you need? 
  • How do you want to be treated? 
  • What is most important to you, and what can wait? 
  • Write down your expectations and desires on paper, so there is no doubt about your intentions.

You will catch yourself when you are reacting and respond in a way you hadn’t planned. When you do this, be kind to yourself. You will make mistakes, and they don’t have to define you or who you will become in the future. Setting boundaries is not an easy skill; it takes time and practice to develop the habit of setting healthy boundaries in your relationships.

I’m never more courageous than when I’m embracing imperfection, embracing vulnerabilities, and setting boundaries with the people in my life.

Brene Brown

Communication Skills

Our boundaries are determined by how well we communicate with others. If we are clear and specific about our boundaries, others are more likely to respect them. When developing the skill of setting boundaries, it’s important to communicate assertively and use “I” Language. The following two activities will help you to prepare for setting boundaries. 

Assertive Communication

Assertive communication means sharing your thoughts and feelings openly, honestly, and directly. It involves recognizing your rights while also respecting the rights of others. This kind of communication allows you to take responsibility for yourself and your actions without judging or blaming others.

  • An assertion does not involve the intent to hurt the other person, whereas aggression does.
  • Assertive behavior aims at making the power between two people equal.
  • Assertive behavior involves expressing your legitimate rights.
  • Remember – Other individuals also have a right to respond to your assertiveness.  

Assertive Communication Model

The Assertive Communication Model has four steps:

Step 1: Use Descriptive Language
  • Detail the other’s behavior and circumstances
  • Be specific
  • Use non-defensive speaking skills. 
Step 2: Express Yourself
  • Use “I” messages, your reaction to the behavior, the circumstances, the facts, using objective words.
Step 3: Specify Objectives
  • Goals
  • Intentions
  • Needs
  • Preferences
Step 4: Specify Benefits
  • Remain positive
  • Stress mutual benefits
  • Use collaborative Language
  • Be inclusive of other

Examples

  • When I began to speak a moment ago, you also started talking. 
  • I feel annoyed because I don’t feel understood. 
  • I would like us to try to hear each other’s points of view, that way I think we might both feel respected.
  • When you suggested that we complete the job by the end of the month, my concern is that we might have to sacrifice quality to meet that deadline. 
  • We may need to discuss this further to meet quality and timeliness, which I believe is vital for our working relationship. 
Feel empowered with skills to set boundaries.

Using “I” Statements

Setting boundaries can cause conflict situations. The best way to resolve any conflict is to communicate effectively. One way to do this is to use “I” statements, which focus on your feelings and reactions. Using “I” Statements allows you to take ownership of your emotions and shows the other person that you’re willing to work together to find a resolution.

Differences Between “I” and “You” Statements

“You” Messages (Accusations) “I” Messages (Ownership)
You never listen to me.I’m feeling frustrated.

It’s essential for our relationship that my point is understood.
You never let me say anything.I’m feeling frustrated because I want an opportunity to say more about what I think.
You make me furious.I’m feeling angry…

I’m feeling intimidated…

I’m feeling ____________.
Your attitude towards me is unacceptable. I would like to improve our working relationship.
Differences between “You” and “I” Statements

“You” statements are more likely to escalate conflicts because they place blame on others. On the other hand, “I” statements help the listener understand our feelings and reactions and take ownership of our part in the conflict.

“I” Language is a powerful tool for assertively communicating our views and feelings without crossing into the judgmental territory. This kind of communication is more likely to provoke positive responses from others since it doesn’t come across as accusatory or aggressive.

Guidelines for “I” Language

  • Speak for yourself: state your observations, thoughts, feelings, perceptions, etc.
  • Express your feelings in ways that indicate self-responsibility for your experience
  • Request co-operative behavior, preferably in positive terms.

Tips for “I” Language

  • Be genuine.
  • Tune in to the primary feeling. (What was the first feeling you experienced?)
  • Accurately reflect the intensity. (e.g., “I’m feeling discouraged,” rather than blaming others for your feelings.
  • Avoid implying that the other person is responsible for your feelings (e.g. State “I feel annoyed” rather than “I feel abused by you…”)

 Practicing “I” Language

Using the guidelines and tips, restate the following in “I” Language [NOTE: You are the speaker]. 

  1. You always forget things that are important to me.
  2. You make me crazy with your timing.
  3. You never consider me when you make these decisions.
  4. You’re just trying to get your way; you don’t care what I want. 
  5. You should’ve known to pass the message on to me as soon as I came in.
  6. You’re too rigid about political correctness.
  7. What a messy person you are, leaving the kitchen in this condition. 
  8. You’re reckless when it comes to money.
  9. You don’t know what you’re talking about.
  10. You shouldn’t feel that way; nobody else thinks of you as an outsider.

Final Tips for “I” Language

We must be clear and concise when communicating our boundary-setting intentions, as vagueness will only result in dismissal or misunderstanding. Be assertive by being specific in what you say; this way, your message will be better received. Following these final tips for assertive communication and “I” Language is helpful:

  • Be specific
  • Be clear/direct
  • Be positive
  • Be collaborative

Summary

Setting boundaries is an integral part of any relationship. It allows us to create a space where we feel safe, respected, and free to be ourselves. Learning to set boundaries begins with learning how to respect and honor ourselves. Respecting and honoring ourselves means taking the time to explore what we need and want in a relationship. Once we clearly understand our own needs, we can communicate them to others.

To have healthy relationships, knowing how to set boundaries is essential. Knowing how to set boundaries means we must take the time to determine our personal expectations and standards. Once we understand that, we can communicate our needs to others using assertive communication and “I” statements when setting boundaries.

I’m still learning to make choices that aren’t perfect but are right for me.

Brene Brown

References

Barkley, S. (2021, October 25). 15 Kind Ways to Say No to People and Keep Your Sanity. Power of Positivity: Positive Thinking & Attitude. https://www.powerofpositivity.com/say-no-to-people/

Oroo, B. (2022, July 5). 70+ healthy boundaries quotes to help you define your bubble. Legit.ng – Nigeria News. https://www.legit.ng/ask-legit/quotes-messages/1476523-70-healthy-boundaries-quotes-define-bubble/

Petryshyn, S. (2015). TAKE CHARGE OF THE TOUGH TALKS : seven truths about conflict management. Createspace Independent P.

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How to Set Boundaries as an Act of Self Love

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Published by suzannemarie

Educator and published author of conflict management and children's books. Living life to its fullest. I believe in courageously honouring my truth and living my legacy. Lover of meaningful conversations, coffee, food, art, and building connections. I love writing about my fascination with culture, food, adventure, self-love, and living a healthy and fulfilled life!

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