If, like me, you’re on a journey of creating a healthier and more intentional life, then setting boundaries is an essential task on your to-do list. It is an important aspect in developing and protecting your self-identity and well-being.
It’s also vital in creating healthy relationships whether at home, at work, with your partner, with friends, or even social media. In fact, recognising and respecting each other’s boundaries is a fundamental part of a healthy and functional relationship.
If you’ve ever found it difficult to set healthy boundaries in your life, I’m letting you in on how you can start doing it right now! I’ve even got a printable you can use to help you do it. So keep scrolling to discover how you can create healthy boundaries in your life.
Why it’s important to set boundaries
It helps you avoid burnout
When was the last time you were spread so thin that you felt like giving up? We put a lot of expectations on ourselves, sometimes to the point of burning out. But this can be avoided if we define and protect boundaries that help us keep our to-do list more realistic!
It helps you avoid resentment
Everyone’s been in a situation where they’ve felt that maybe someone has overstepped their boundaries and taken too much of their time, energy, or emotion. This, unfortunately, usually leads to feelings of resentment. Setting healthy boundaries prevents that overstepping from happening in the first place.
Healthy boundaries = happy relationships
If you want to improve the important relationships in your life, boundary-setting needs to be a big part of that! More importantly, it needs to go both ways. Communicating openly about your boundaries creates an open and honest dialogue that will lead to much happier and fulfilling relationships.
It’s a way to respect and honour your inner self
Remember, you – and your boundaries – are worthy of respect. Creating healthy boundaries is an act of self-respect and asserting your place in this world. There will always be people who attempt to trample all over your boundaries, but when you have a strong sense of self, it’s much easier to protect those boundaries!
You’ll be more aware and respectful of other people’s boundaries
More often than not, people don’t even notice that they’re over-stepping other people’s boundaries. We’ve all been guilty of this! But creating your own healthy boundaries is an excellent way for you to open your eyes and mind to other people’s boundaries.
It gives you the chance to grow as a person
When you set these boundaries, you are creating space and time that you can dedicate to self-care, inner growth, and personal development. You’re going to be able to prioritise all the things you need to do to nourish the inner you that has been neglected for far too long.
5 steps you can take to set healthy boundaries
1. Define your boundaries
The first step is to actually decide what boundaries you need to set. This doesn’t have to be complex or difficult, but it’s worth noting that it will be slightly different for each person or situation you encounter. It’s a lot more effective to set specific boundaries whenever you come across a situation that requires it.
To get started with this step, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my basic human rights?
- What are my core values and principles?
- What makes me feel comfortable in this situation?
- What makes me feel uncomfortable in this situation?
2. Communicate your boundaries
Before I say anything else, I want to say this: there is no need for you to over-explain your boundaries or try to justify it! Just be matter-of-fact and direct.
It can seem harsh, but when you try too hard to justify your boundaries, you run the risk of explaining so much that you explain away your reasons. This can cause others to not take your boundaries seriously, which defeats the purpose of setting boundaries in the first place!
Here are some things you can say to communicate your boundaries:
- “I’m not comfortable with this”
- “I don’t have the capacity for that right now”
- “I’ve decided not to do that”
- “I don’t want to”
- “I’d like you to stop doing that”
3. Set consequences
What happens if someone crosses the line? How will you respond to them overstepping your boundaries?
Your boundaries are worthy of not just existing, but being protected too. So you need to think of the exact action you’ll take when someone oversteps.
This will, of course, be different in each situation. But deciding on a consequence and clearly communicating it can be effective in showing the people involved that you are serious.
Here’s a real life example: I told a relative that they can only babysit my child if they promise to use a carseat when driving with them (car seats are unfortunately not required by law in that country). I informed them that babysitting privileges will be taken away should they neglect to do this.
Obviously, they didn’t listen. I was alarmed and upset, but more importantly, I now had the power to assert the consequences I had set earlier on to protect this boundary.
They were not able to babysit my children till they were old enough to not need car seats.
Here are some ways you can establish consequences for toxic oversteppers:
- Think of what they stand to gain by overstepping, then remove that thing from their life completely. For example, that person may call you too frequently to the point of wasting hours of your time.
If they call you far too often (decide on that boundary first), then you will not pick up their calls for an entire week.
- Consider a time-out. Time-outs are incredibly effective for over-steppers. This could mean either removing them, or yourself, from the situation you’re in.
For example, if your colleagues are violating your boundaries by telling racist or sexist jokes at a meeting, tell them they have to leave the room (and quite frankly, you should go straight to HR after the meeting as well).
- Call out passivity. Sometimes, overstepping boundaries isn’t an active action. An example of this is a colleague who always puts their hand up for work, and then neglects to do their part (ugh). This is overstepping a boundary, even if they’re not actually doing anything.
The best way to deal with this is to call them out or bring attention to their behaviour – so for this example, you can remind them about the work they owe 3 times, and if it still doesn’t get done, let them know you’ll be informing your boss about their inaction.
4. Stick to the consequence
You need to be assertive when it comes to the consequences you set in the previous step! It can be majorly uncomfortable, especially if you’re not used to conflict and confrontation (hello, me).
But you can feel confident now because you’ve been clear about your boundaries in that second step, remember?
This is a vital step in ensuring your boundaries are protected in the long-term, so please let go of any guilt or doubt. If you find this difficult to do, you need to start incorporating self-esteem boosting practices into your life, like positive affirmations, meditation, and journaling.
If you still feel uneasy about taking necessary steps to sticking to the consequences, here are some ways you can regain perspective:
- Remember the reasons you created that boundary in the first place
- Recognise this as a chance to protect and nurture your future self
- Resist the urge to excuse or justify their actions – they knowingly caused this consequence to happen. They made their bed, now they get to lay in it!
5. Re-examine your boundaries from time to time
Life changes, situations change, people change. So sometimes you’ll need to adjust your boundaries to make sure they reflect your current needs.
- Does this boundary need to be loosened or tightened?
- Do I need to change the consequences for overstepping this boundary?
- Are there new boundaries I need to set in this relationship or social situation?
Create healthy boundaries with my Boundary Setting Worksheet
If you’re still not quite sure how to set boundaries, I’ve got the perfect printable for you. My FREE Boundary Setting Worksheet contains useful prompts to help you set healthy boundaries. I even include a couple of examples to help you along.
You can download this Boundary Setting Worksheet here, or by filling out the form at the bottom of this post.
You and your boundaries are worthy of respect
‘No’ is a complete sentence!
Setting boundaries is important for your long-term wellbeing and for creating a life that allows you to flourish and thrive. You owe it to yourself to create and protect healthy boundaries. It’s time to prioritise this and add it as one of your goals!
If you’re looking for more ways to have more balance, clarity, and purpose in your life, please consider signing up for my fortnightly newsletters. These emails are always chock full of inspiring content to help you design a fulfilling life, and what better way to get them than right in your inbox?
26 thoughts on “5 Steps To Create Healthy Boundaries In Your Life”
Setting boundaries is so important. I am learning to set boundaries with my family, it is really hard, but it is necessary to protect our mental wellbeing. Thanks for sharing.
I hear you, Candice! It’s probably the trickiest relationships to manage when it comes to boundaries, tbh. I’m thinking of writing a post that specifically deals with negotiating boundaries with family, actually! It’s tough to set up to begin with, but once those boundaries are in place, it’ll lead to much healthier communication I think.
This is such a needed post! Thank you for touching on this important topic, it is something I struggle with as well and this was really helpful 🙂 here’s to healthy boundaries in 2021!
I’m so glad you found this helpful! I personally have allowed people to step all over my boundaries, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised just how important it is to define and protect healthy boundaries for my own wellbeing. So yes, here’s to healthy boundaries in 2021 (and beyond!) xx
This is a great post! Healthy boundaries are so important for relationships. I love the tip about initially defining your boundaries. Some people skip that one, but it’s important!
You’re spot on, a lot of people skip that one! If you don’t define the boundaries – even just for yourself – there’s no real way to communicate that to others.
I love this! Personally, I’ve had a hard time setting my own boundaries and I realized that the key is to love yourself. Like, basically, if you love yourself, you’ll respect your own boundaries and others will respect that too. Thank you so much for sharing this! 💖
Spot on, Jocelyn! It’s so much easier to set boundaries when you have that self-love and protective instinct for your well-being!
Such an important topic to helping women keep their time and their priorities (not to mention emotional energy) on track! Setting boundaries can be hard but you made so many good cases for why this needs to happen!
So true! We spend so much of our emotional energy negotiating our boundaries each day, to the point where we almost accept it as a fact of life. But it’s not! We can and should set boundaries and assert them when needed. It really frees up a LOT of time and energy when everything is laid out from the start.
As an adult I have learned to set healthy boundaries and now trying to teach this to my children. It is so important to understand that it is okay to have limits. Great post!
This is such an interesting perspective, because it definitely took having kids for me to finally set healthy boundaries. I think of it as leading by example, and showing my children that self-respect is the key to happiness.
Such a great post! And so important as well. I definitely struggle with trying to be assertive when it comes to my boundaries, I find it difficult sometimes if someone does over step them to say no. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, probably due to my self confidence and not feeling like I can say anything! Although I’m definitely working on it and feel like I’ve got better at it over the past year. x
Thanks, Chloe! I’ve so been there before, I understand how it goes against all our instincts sometimes to be protective over our boundaries, but I’m glad you’ve taken notice of it. It is definitely a skill, and as with all skills, it takes time and practice to perfect. I wish you all the best, and I’m just an email away if you need any help with it!
Such a great post! Setting your boundaries is a clear statement of your own self respect and so important!
Exactly! It all comes down to that self-respect, doesn’t it?
Such a great post, Adriana! Believe it or not, I only recently learned how to put boundaries and being assertive. For years it has been my weakest point. But as we say better later than ever, I am hoping for the best. Thank you for sharing!
Oh, I 100% believe it, Kate! As women, we’re taught early on that we’ve only got value in how much we can do for others, often at the expense of our personal boundaries. I’m so glad you made that connection and started protecting your boundaries!
I did not even know what a boundary was until I was almost 40! Done well, they are a game changer. I feel like sometimes people mix up entitlement and boundaries and that can be kind of a disaster. Boundaries are part of living a healthy lifestyle, in my experience! Thanks so much for sharing and giving examples and language to use- sometimes that is the hardest part. <3
I totally get you, Jen! It wasn’t till I hit my 30s that I really started to prioritise boundaries, and even then it’s been a learning curve. It doesn’t come naturally to some of us, so that’s why I wanted to create an in-depth guide to setting healthy boundaries. It’s something I wish I had early on in my journey!
Thank you for your kind words, and good luck 🙂
This is so important! I will need to revisit the idea of boundaries because this is eye-opening!
It really is so important, isn’t it? And often overlooked too. But it’s been a key part of my personal growth and I am loving it! I hope it helps you too 🙂
Boundaries are so easy to overlook setting but make a huge difference! I def want to get better at setting them this year so thanks for the tips’
You’re spot on, Casey! It’s all too easy to let things slide, so setting those boundaries intentionally from the start will make a big difference in how people treat you (and how you treat yourself!). Good luck with setting your boundaries this year hun, and feel free to get in touch with me if you need any advice 🙂
So good to read that. Boundaries are not easy to set because some people don’t understand them… It feels good to read I’m actually entitled to! Thanks for that 🙂
I totally get that! Sometimes we just need that reminder that we deserve to have our boundaries respected xx