Setting healthy boundaries is one of the most important skills you can learn if you want to achieve high self-esteem, create the life you’ve dreamed about living, and experience the joy that comes from living the life you were meant to live. Without healthy boundaries you will find yourself powerless in your relationships with others, and with yourself.
Setting boundaries always requires the ability to embrace change in our life.
Unfortunately, our ego does not like change. Even when we are unhappy, we will find ways to live with our unhappiness so-as-to avoid making the changes we “know” we need to make in our lives; internally and externally.
Like achieving happiness and success in life, the skill of creating healthy boundaries requires the ability to pay attention to your feelings, your emotions, the illusions your ego creates to strengthen its self-identity, and most importantly, your ability to let go of your resistance to reality or “what is”.
Here are five tips on the art of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.
Tip #1 – Understand and claim your rights as a human being. For example, the right and freedom to decide for yourself what is truly important,
- what makes you happy,
- what you would like to do and accomplish in your life,
person you would like to become,
- how you would like to live your life,
- your ethics,
- your values,
- your beliefs, and most importantly,
- your unique life purpose.
If your relationships are not affirming and supporting your growth as an individual, and encouraging you to become all you can become, you need to make some decisions and set some boundaries. You either need to let go of those relationships, or you need to set clear boundaries on what is acceptable to you and what isn’t as you live your own unique life.
As we grow, our boundaries will also undergo change.
Tip #2 To be effective, a boundary always needs a very clear consequence as to what will happen if your boundary is ignored. A consequence is not something to feel guilty about. As long as you have been clear about the boundary, and the consequences that will happen if your boundary is ignored, it is the other person’s responsibility to decide whether or not they want to deal with the consequences that you have established.
You are not responsible for the choices that others make.
Tip #3 – Never state a consequence that you are not prepared to follow though on. The other person needs to know that you mean what you say. When you don’t follow through on a consequence, you lose all your credibility. Most parenting problems stem from a lack of follow though on the boundaries set by the parent, or parents not allowing the child to experience natural consequences. When a relationship is not based on clear boundaries and clear consequences, the relationship has to be negotiated by nagging, blaming, and conflict created by power struggles; behaviors that quickly lead to emotional withdrawal.
Tip #4 – Anger is not a boundary. If your find yourself getting angry in your relationships it often a sign that you either need to a) set a boundary or b) explore the possibility that your ego might be creating an illusion that is creating unhappiness in your life. Some common illusions include
- the belief that other people can make you happy or unhappy,
- when other people are unhappy its your fault,
- you feel powerless or helpless,
- who you are is inadequate, flawed, or “not enough”,
- the other person’s need comes before your own,
- you’re too controlling, selfish, self-centered, or insensitive, and
- if you loved me you would know what I need, how I’m feeling, or what I’m thinking.
If you are suffering from any of these illusions, or if others are accusing you of these things, get some help to see if they are true. If so, change them. If they’re not, set some boundaries.
Only you can become self-aware of why you’re angry. That’s not a work that someone else can do for you. Remind yourself that anger is never a healthy long-term response. Anger is only meant to alert you to the fact that something is going on that needs your attention.
Long-term anger is very unhealthy. In the words of Felice Dunas “Holding onto long term anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Don’t go there. Make changes. Set boundaries.
Tip #5 – The reluctance to set boundaries is usually the fear of conflict or having to make changes in your life. Your ego works very hard at attaching to things that give it a sense of identity; the feeling that you are real. As a result, your ego does not like conflict or changes that could threaten its sense of “self”; and that includes setting boundaries.
It’s not uncommon for our ego to use attachments to things such as……..
- an idea like marriage, or home owner,
- a strongly held belief that we think describes how things “should” be,
- a life long addiction to pain, suffering, conflict, and crisis,
- an addiction to our sad life-story that describes in painful detail why we are so powerless to create happiness in our life,
- the belief that impermanent things of the world have the power to make us happy, or
- an addiction to the fear, worry, and anxiety created when our ego actually attempts to attach our self-identity to things that are impermanent.
Your ego is especially addicted to fear, worry, and anxiety because they are emotions that create a strong sense of self. It worries about the past. It worries about what will happen in the future. It even worries about how much you worry.
Conclusion – Don’t live your life as though you have another one safely stashed in a security box at the bank.
You can re-write your life story, but it requires the courage to first look clearly at the illusions your ego has used to create your self-identity, and secondly, the courage to set healthy, self-aware, internal and external boundaries for yourself.
The only way we grow in life is through the willingness to change the way we live, and the way we think.
So learn to embrace change. Let go of your fear-based resistance to look clearly at “what is” causing unhappiness in your life.
When you understand that fear is the product of illusions created by your own ego, you will find you have the ability to grow and create what ever you can dream.
When you embrace your full humanity you become a co-creator with the Divine Impulse to “Become” that dwells in each of our hearts, and in all of creation. When that happens, anything is possible.
Life is short. Don’t waste your life “hoping and praying” that things will change. Your life is a gift. Your consciousness is a gift. And all of your gifts are unique. Don’t waste them. Begin now to create the life you would like to live.
Start setting healthy boundaries, and/or strengthening those you already have; both internally and externally.
Comment below to add other possible reasons to have trouble setting boundaries.