9 Tips for Setting Healthy Boundaries — Calm Blog
How do we kindly and proactively ensure healthy boundaries? It’s not an easy task, and oftentimes, rather intimidating; telling people what you need might seem selfish, aggressive, or even rude. But it’s important: Boundaries allow us to feel safe and respected both physically and emotionally. Honoring our limits helps us to take better care of ourselves, builds trust, prevents burnout, and infuses more meaning and authenticity into our relationships.
And there’s a way to do it that protects our best interests and helps loved ones understand us better.
While most of us weren’t taught this vital life skill in school, it’s never too late to start exploring how we might benefit from better boundaries. Here are a few ways to begin:
1 | Tune in
Our bodies always give us signals when we are near a personal limit. Notice if you feel your jaw tighten or your fists clench. Maybe you start to squirm, or you break into a sweat. Perhaps you feel it in your throat or stomach? Whatever the cue, honor what your body tells you and take some time to explore your discomfort and understand the arising boundary.
2 | Understand your priorities
Your time is a limited and valuable resource. If you try to please everyone, you not only purchase a one-way ticket to burnout and resentment, you also deny yourself the pleasure and growth of focusing on what you value. Next time you say yes to someone, make sure you’re not saying no to yourself. Take some time to write a list of priorities and compare it to where you spend your time and energy to assess if you need to make any adjustments.
3 | Communicate with clarity
Practice saying no when you don’t want to do something. You don’t have to explain yourself or offer an excuse. The following phrases are complete answers: “No, thank you.” “Thanks, but I can’t.”
If someone you care about has violated your boundaries, you may want to give them more information. Here’s a helpful template to express your frustration:
When you ___________, I felt ______________.
Please don’t ___________.
_____________ is important to me.
“When you told our friends about what’s been going on with my family, I felt hurt and embarrassed. Please don’t share things about me without my consent. My privacy is important to me.“