If you truly want to be your best you, to have a happy and healthy life, you need to learn how to set boundaries. Boundaries are being clear about what your limits are, and they are necessary to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed by the demands of other people. Without boundaries, you are likely to be overburdened, stressed, and resentful, and it’s up to you to set and maintain your limits. You are the only one responsible for your happiness and wellbeing. No one else can do it for you.
If you find it hard to say no, and it’s affecting your wellbeing, you need to stop and recalibrate. Here are some key elements for creating healthy boundaries:
1. Know your limits
Knowing yourself is the key to creating and maintaining good boundaries. Know your emotional, mental, and physical limits. Work out what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed and what feels good.
2. Learn how to read your feelings
In assessing where your limits are, you will have felt a range of different emotions. Two key emotions that signal that your boundaries are being crossed are resentment and discomfort. If you feel you’re being taken advantage of, not appreciated, or even being exploited, that’s a sign you’re being pushed beyond your boundaries, and it’s time to reassert those boundaries and say no.
3. Give yourself permission to enforce your boundaries
It’s okay to say no. In fact, it’s necessary for your self-respect to maintain your boundaries and refuse an unwelcome request. There is no room for guilt or self-doubt in this. Having clear boundaries and sticking to them is not selfish. In putting yourself first, you’re ensuring that you will have the energy to do the things you want to do and be there for people when its right for you.
4. Be clear about what’s up for negotiation
Know what you need to stay happy and healthy, whether it’s your daily walk, a gym session, or yoga practice. Make it clear that these are non-negotiable parts of your daily schedule. Similarly, be clear that you won’t host family parties, but you will contribute with food or drinks. Being clear and direct about your boundaries leaves no room for doubt, guilt, or leverage.
When you’re clear about your boundaries, you don’t need an excuse, a backstory, or a note from your mother. Be direct and leave it at that. You can be polite and kind about it, but in the end, it’s okay just to say no and keep your boundaries strong.