Setting Boundaries Doesn't Make You Selfish, It Makes You Smart
Being able to set boundaries is one of the smartest skills you can implement. And setting resilient boundaries is entirely possible....even if they've been trampled before, or if you've "failed" in enforcing them.
This article will help you understand why setting boundaries is important, make it easy to set boundaries, plus provide tips on how to do it effectively.Download a PDF of this article and share it!
Set Effective Boundaries by Tonight
Is it possible to set effective boundaries when you’re stressed? Are some people “those type” of people who just can’t hold on to boundaries?
In today's stressful society, it’s easy to get caught up in what others think of us. We strive to be perfect and to please everyone around us. However, this can be extremely detrimental to our mental and physical health.
Setting boundaries is a way to take back control of our lives and to focus on what is truly important.
In this blog post you’ll learn how to set effective boundaries that can’t be trampled….and that will be easy for you to enforce, no matter what your situation.
You’ll be able to create your beautifully resilient boundaries by tonight!
Why Setting Boundaries Is Important
When considering the physical and emotional toll of increased stress, nearly half of adults (49%) report their behavior has been negatively affected. Most commonly, they report increased tension in their bodies (21%), “snapping” or getting angry very quickly (20%), unexpected mood swings (20%), or screaming or yelling at a loved one (17%). (https://www.stress.org/daily-life)
So much stress, however, we control…even though we don’t realize it. The result often amounts to trampled boundaries, from ourselves and others. Yet, we often think that setting a boundary in our lives is selfish. We find ourselves bending over backward to please other people to show that we’re the “nice person” we think we are.
Here’s the thing, setting boundaries isn't selfish, it means you know what you want and need. It also shows that you're willing to put yourself first in order to protect yourself. This can be difficult to do, especially if you're used to putting others first, but it's so important.
Knowing how to set boundaries is a skill that you'll use throughout your life, and it's something that everyone should learn how to do.
Before we go further, I've created a Resilient Boundaries Toolkit to go with this article. Grab yours now...
Resilient Boundaries Toolkit
It's your step-by-step guide to creating your own resilient boundaries. Download now so you'll have it as you read the rest of this article.
What Do Boundaries Really Mean?
It seems counterintuitive, but boundaries are for you, not for or against other people.
Before you get your tiki torches and march down the street in protest, hear me out. They are for yourself so you have a clear set of operational procedures, thought out in advance, on how to act.
When we’re in the middle of our concept of right and wrong being violated (i.e., co-worker should not push his work off on me, friend should not talk behind my back, boss should not raise her voice at me) our brains go into fight, flight, or freeze.
In every case, we need a set of guidelines on what we will do. That is what we call boundaries. You can see plentiful examples in the download I mentioned above. ^^
Defining your needs
When it comes to setting boundaries, it's important to first know what your needs are. This can be difficult to determine, especially if you've never really thought about it before. But taking the time to figure out what makes you feel comfortable and what doesn't is an important step in setting healthy boundaries.
Think about the last time someone crossed a boundary with you. What did they do that made you feel uncomfortable? Was it something they said? Something they did? Or was it simply their presence? Once you've identified what made you feel uncomfortable, you can start to figure out what your needs are.
Do you need more personal space? Do you need people to respect your privacy? Do you need to be able to say "no" without feeling guilty?
These are all valid needs that should be taken into account when setting boundaries.
Why some people find it difficult to set boundaries
For some people, setting boundaries can be difficult. They might feel like they're being too harsh or that they're not being fair. Or, they might be worried about what other people will think of them if they set a boundary.
It can be helpful to remember that setting boundaries is a way to take care of yourself. It's not selfish to want to have healthy relationships with others. When you set a boundary, you're saying that you respect yourself and you deserve to be treated with respect.
If you find it difficult to set boundaries, it might be helpful to talk to a therapist or life coach who can help you work through your feelings and develop healthy coping strategies. (Thinking about it? Check out this coaching)
It can be difficult for some people to set boundaries because they have a hard time saying no or they’re afraid of confrontation. They may also feel like they are not allowed to put their own needs first.
Setting boundaries is important, though, because it can help you protect your time, energy, and resources. It can also help you nurture healthier relationships.
It can be difficult for some people to set boundaries because they don't want to hurt other people's feelings. They may also feel like they do not have the right to say "no" or that they will be seen as selfish if they do.
Yet another reason why someone might have trouble setting boundaries is because they’re afraid of conflict or being rejected.
It is important to remember that you are not responsible for other people's happiness and that it is okay (and safe) to put your own needs first.
Setting boundaries is a way to take care of yourself, to respect yourself and others, and demonstrate to others that you’re valuable enough to be respected.
selfish vs self care
The difference between selfish boundaries and self-care boundaries
The line between selfish and self-care can be blurry, but it’s important to know the difference. If you’re a people-pleaser like I used to be, you disdain selfishness and never want to be perceived as such. But we get all mixed up in our heads.
Let’s clear it up.
Selfishness is driven by a desire to satisfy one’s own needs, at the expense of others. It's about being controlling, manipulative and often insensitive to the needs of others. It's about taking what you want without regard for how it might impact others.
This often leads to boundary issues, as the selfish person may not respect the boundaries of others.
Self-care, on the other hand, is driven by a desire to take care of oneself in a way that doesn’t hurt others. With self-care, you’re taking care of yourself so that you can be your best for others. It's about setting boundaries so that you don't become overwhelmed and stressed out. It's about knowing your limits and making sure you're getting enough rest, exercise and nutrition.
This means setting boundaries and saying no when necessary. It’s perfectly normal and safe to nurture yourself without crossing the line into selfishness.
It's easy to get the two confused, but there is a big difference between selfish and self-care.
Bottom line…Selfishness is all about taking from others while self-care is all about taking care of yourself so that you can give more to others.
Why setting boundaries doesn't make you selfish
In our society, we're taught that setting boundaries is selfish. We're told that we need to be selfless and give of ourselves constantly in order to be good people. But what if setting boundaries is actually a selfless act?
Think about it this way: when you set a boundary, you're saying "no" to something that isn't good for you. You're protecting yourself from harm, whether that harm is physical, emotional, or mental. And by doing so, you're also protecting the people who care about you.
So next time you're feeling guilty about setting a boundary, remember that it's not selfish - it's selfless. You're doing it for yourself and for the people who love you.
In fact, boundary setting is necessary in order to maintain a healthy relationship with others. By setting boundaries, you’re able to take care of yourself and your own needs. This ensures that you are able to give your best to the people in your life.
Boundaries also allow you to set limits on what you will tolerate from others. This allows you to protect yourself from being taken advantage of or hurt by someone else. It is important to remember that you do not have to tolerate everything in order to be a good person.
Overall, setting boundaries is a way of taking care of yourself and ensuring that your relationships are healthy and positive. So, next time you feel like setting a boundary, do not hesitate!
How to Set Effective Boundaries
I mentioned that setting personal boundaries is vital to maintaining healthy relationships and a sense of self. But they don’t have to be difficult to maintain.
You simply need to be clear…first of all with yourself.
Boundaries are basically a 2-step process:
- The Request
- The Consequence
The request is asking someone to stop doing something that infringes on your personal limit. (Hint: It’s important to know what your personal limits are ahead of time). It’s a defined action.
Meaning, “Gary, stop bothering me,” doesn’t qualify as a request. “Gary, stop calling me during work hours,” is a defined action.
This gives the person an option to do, or not do, what you requested. Every human being on the planet has free will. You cannot force anyone to do or not do something. Therefore, you have a request and a consequence.
Which means…your boundaries are for you. Yep! Your boundaries consist of actions YOU will take.
The consequence is something YOU will do if that person chooses not to do what you request. For instance, “Gary, if you call during work hours, I will not answer the phone.”
If you want more request/consequence examples and direction, get your free Resilient Boundaries Toolkit that will help you craft boundaries your way. It’s at https://www.realliferesilience.com/boundaries
Secret tip: You really don’t even need to tell anyone else about your boundaries if you don’t want to, you merely act on them. No explanation needed. You are clear on your boundaries to yourself, so move forward and act. In the example above, no need to tell Gary at all. If he calls during work hours, your boundary says you simply do not answer the phone.
Boundaries can protect you
What if it’s tough to set boundaries?
It's difficult enough to set boundaries in our personal lives, let alone at work. Whether we're dealing with a demanding boss, pushy coworkers, or challenging clients, it can be hard to assert ourselves and draw the line.
But setting boundaries is essential to maintaining our sanity and preserving our energy both in our personal life and at work.
Remember: it's not selfish to put our own needs first; it's necessary.
One of my clients explained it this way: “One of the biggest mistakes I have a track record of making is assuming others will figure out my boundaries. I've hoped that indirect signals like body language and facial expression would be enough to convey that a boundary is crossed. Now I have the tools to communicate clearly and I’ve learned how to have conversations about those topics... even if they make me wildly uncomfortable.”
Here are some tips for overcoming the challenges to setting boundaries:
- Communicate your needs clearly and directly.
- Don't beat around the bush or try to send subtle signals that you hope will be picked up.
- Be clear about what you need and why it's important to you.
- Be prepared for resistance. People may not like it when we start setting boundaries, especially if they're used to getting their way with us.
Setting boundaries is a key part of maintaining healthy relationships, yet it can be difficult to do. There are many challenges that can come up when trying to set boundaries.
One challenge is feeling like you have to please everyone. You may feel like you need to keep the peace or make everyone happy, but this is not always possible. It’s important to remember that you cannot control how others feel, so setting a boundary may not always result in the reaction that you want.
Another challenge is feeling guilty. You may feel like you are being mean if you set a boundary. It is important to remember that setting boundaries is not about being selfish or mean; it is about taking care of yourself and protecting your own needs.
A third challenge that many people face when it comes to setting personal boundaries is the fear of rejection. This can be a difficult obstacle to overcome because it can prevent you from asserting yourself and letting others know what you need.
One way to deal with this fear is to remind yourself that everyone has different boundaries and that not everyone will understand or accept your own personal limits. It's okay to be assertive and set boundaries, even if it means that some people might not like it.
It's also important to remember that you don't have to please everyone all the time. You should put your own needs first and foremost, and setting boundaries is one way to do that. So don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and set the limits that are right for you.
Top Tips for Setting Boundaries
Define what you need or want
Don't be afraid to say no, and practice it
Prioritize your time and define your personal space and time
Stick to your decisions
Know your limits and what you're willing to do or not do
Your Own Boundaries Are Good for Other People in Your Life
In our culture today, we are constantly bombarded with the message that we need to be more open and understanding of other people and their needs. This is true to a certain extent, but it is also important to remember that your own boundaries are good for other people too.
When you have healthy boundaries, you’re able to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. This allows you to be present for other people in a way that’s not possible when you’re trying to please everyone all the time.
Your boundaries also help other people to feel safe around you.
When they know that you will not tolerate certain types of behavior, they can relax and be themselves without worry. This creates an atmosphere of trust and respect that is beneficial for all involved.
It's important to have boundaries for yourself so that you can be healthy and happy. When you have strong boundaries, it benefits not only yourself but also the people around you.
Here are three ways that your own boundaries can benefit other people:
1. You will be a better friend
If you have boundaries, you’ll be able to give more appropriately to your friends because you won't be depleted from giving too much of yourself away.
You'll also be able to set appropriate expectations for how much time and energy you have to give, which will make your friendship stronger and more sustainable.
2. You will be a better partner
When you have boundaries, you're more likely to be in a healthy and fulfilling relationship. STOP: Go back and read that sentence again. This is because you'll know what you need and want from a partner, and you won't settle for anything less.
It is important to set boundaries in order to protect yourself and your relationships. When you set clear boundaries, it communicates to others that you value yourself and your time. This ultimately benefits everyone involved because it allows for more meaningful interactions and connections.
3. You will deflect toxic relationships
Boundaries also help to ensure that we are physically and emotionally safe. By setting limits on what we will tolerate from others, we can avoid toxic or harmful situations. This not only benefits us, but also the people around us who care about us.
Overall, setting boundaries is a way of taking care of yourself which in turn benefits the people in your life. It shows that you respect yourself and helps to create healthier relationships.
In the end, setting boundaries is not selfish. It's smart.
Setting resilient boundaries allows you to take care of yourself and your needs. It also allows you to have healthy relationships with others. When you set boundaries, you are taking control of your life and making choices that are best for you.
so you can get started crafting your best boundaries today.
Now you know exactly how and why to set boundaries, but what about our old nemesis: imposter syndrome, or people-pleasing? Or what about raising your adversity quotient? Below I’ve got three amazing blogs for you to read next to help you with that.
Here's what you should read next...
Imposter syndrome: Why do I feel like a fraud?
Ever felt like a fraud despite your successes? You may be suffering from impostor syndrome. Left unchecked, imposter syndrome can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and even depression. The good news is that imposter syndrome can be overcome.
Why You Should Raise Your Adversity Quotient
Adversity is a part of life. Everyone experiences it, but some people seem to handle it better than others. Why is that?
You might think that some people are just naturally resilient, but science shows...
How to Overcome People-Pleasing & Approval-Seeking
If you find yourself people-pleasing or always seeking approval, you're not alone.
And perfectionism is a twin of people-pleasing. They stem from the same thing…a fearful thought that our brain is feeding us. Let's solve this problem!