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10 Steps to healthier boundaries in relationships

Where do you find people bending your boundaries?

If you could point to the one area of your life where you feel taken advantage of, what area would that be?

When a healthy boundary is in place, life works. Designed to protect and empower, a healthy boundary is a way of setting limits on your physical, psychological, sexual, emotional and spiritual space. You have the right to tell someone yes or no. You have the right to ask to have your needs met and that person has the right to say yes or no to that request.

Boundaries seem simple but the creating and keeping of them can get very complex, especially when dealing with people who have no clue what a healthy boundary is let alone how to respect one.

In this article, you're going to learn ten ways to create healthy boundaries. I'll warn you. It's not as simple as it looks. In order to do this, you're going to need to speak to yourself and handle your relationships in a way far removed from what you're accustomed to. But, if you have the courage to take a step, and you have the tenacity to hold on (even when people are pushing your buttons), you will discover the beauty of boundaries: they last.

A healthy boundary is marked by three things:

1) It respects your right to say yes or no. 2) It protects your ability to keep private the things you want to keep private. 3) It allows people to be who they are without feeling hurt, resentful or taken advantage of.

When you create a healthy boundary, you aren't shutting people out of your life. You're being selective about who you let in and to what extent they have access to your world. Your boundaries help people understand how to interact with you. More than that, healthy boundaries teach people how to treat you. To create healthy boundaries, you need to know that you have the right to do so. Once you know that, you also have to be willing to both create AND enforce those boundaries.

Here are 10 ways to create healthy boundaries:

1) Schedule a boundary conversation with someone who's been bending your boundaries. Speak clearly, concisely and compassionately by telling them what you've noticed, what you need, and how you'd like to see the relationship develop.

2) Schedule non-negotiable times in your day for activities that fill your emotional tank. When you make 'you' a priority, other people get the message fast.

3) Take a hard boundary line with people who are negative, energy sucking, or serious boundary violators. Oftentimes, we spend way more energy trying to change boundary violators than we do in enforcing our boundaries with them. It is not your job to change them. It's your work to change you.

4) Embrace the word 'No' and use it at will. But when you say 'No', mean it. The worst thing you can do is say 'No' in a way that really means, "It's a yes if you can convince me."

5) Get 2-3 healthy boundary accountability partners. Enlisting the help of someone else to give a nudge or a text when they see you bending your boundaries can be so helpful to standing firm. A close friend may see something in you that you don't at the moment you're saying or doing something. Allow those you trust to support you in enforcing your boundaries (unless they are also violating those boundaries).

6) Give yourself 24 hours to consider any request before making a decision. When someone asks you for a favor, say "Give me 24 hours to think about it." In twenty-four hours, more clarity will be available, and you'll be able to make a decision based on intuition, not a desire to be liked.

7) Do a 'user' downsize. Anyone in your life who only calls when they need something is not a friend. Do a friend inventory and let go of the fair weather friends, users, and victim/complainers. There are millions of people in the country. I'm sure you can find a better group of people to hang out with.

8) Let go of the NEED for other people's approval. Everybody likes approval. Let's be honest: we all want it. But bending boundaries only happens when you NEED someone else's approval. The moment you drop that need, you also drop the need to bend your boundaries.

9) Trust your gut. When you feel unsafe around a person or in a situation, trust that and immediately set up a clear boundary. Your intuition is meant to be listened to.

10) Believe people the first time they show you who they are. So much boundary violation occurs because people would rather believe in the "potential" of a person rather than the "actual." Take people for what they show you and create boundaries based on the actual, not the potential.

What's been provided are 10 ways to create healthy boundaries. Use them well. Start using them now. Healthy boundaries are not concepts to be talked about. They're states to be lived in.

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