Set boundaries with people who hurt or irk you. These self-honoring and self-care choices are not intended to be people pleasing. Being honest with someone about what you dislike about their behavior toward you will prevent you from feeling resentful. This confrontation may not always be received well by the other person, but other people’s upset is not yours to fix.
Research has proven that people who feel connected to others live longer, healthier lives. Creating and maintaining healthy relationships is essential to our well-being, yet not always easy. Sometimes we have to set boundaries with people, which can be hard to do (especially if you relate to being a people-pleaser).
Set Healthy Boundaries
What exactly are healthy boundaries? When do we set them? And how do we do it in a way that is loving? Why do so many of us know we should set a boundary with someone but do not follow through with it?
We are all here to learn and grow, so it’s natural to experience growing pains with people you care about. The key word here is growing, not pain. Setting boundaries is part of growth.
A boundary is a self-honoring agreement inside yourself or with another person that supports your well-being and comes from love. When we tolerate hurtful or negative treatment from another, we end up building up resentment or eventually completely pull away. Having the courage to communicate our needs and set a boundary is more loving then pretending something is okay when it isn’t.
Types Of Boundaries
There are two kinds of boundaries. Internal boundaries are agreements we make with ourselves to modify a relationship. For example, you may have a very negative friend who complains every time you are together. Perhaps you have even asked the person to be more positive and they have not adjusted. You are not ready to completely sever the friendship, so instead you set a boundary that you will only make plans with that person once a month rather than weekly.
The other type of boundary is one you verbally request from another. Say you have a relative who always asks you, “So are you dating anyone?” or “What’s going on with your career, find a job yet?” Their intrusiveness laced with a tone of judgment makes you cringe. You want to (or have to) be around them but you keep building up resentment whenever the intrusive question is asked. Time to set a boundary!
Boundaries not only prevent us from getting resentful and eventually throwing up a barrier, they also save us from being a doormat.
Why Is It Tough To Set Boundaries?
So if they are so helpful, why are they so hard to set and keep? Well, because we are scared. Scared that the person will be hurt or mad. Scared they won’t like us. Scared that the relationship will end.
But what is scarier is being in unhealthy relationships or tolerating behavior that feels hurtful. For relationships to grow, there are sometimes growing pains. The other person may very well get hurt or angry. You are not responsible for their reaction. You are responsible for communicating honestly and with love.
Remember: being loving is being real, authentic, and courageous. It is all words of affirmation and rosy language. Consider what boundaries it may be time to set to grow yourself and your relationships.
In the words of Brene Brown: “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.”