Eep! Someone’s overstepped a line. It’s time to say no. Setting boundaries can sound daunting, but it’s a challenge that’ll help give you peace of mind, and will make your friendships stronger in the long run.
Conflict is a difficult thing to navigate. You might even try to avoid it at all costs. But addressing conflicts and setting boundaries are all a part of building and maintaining healthy relationships. Whether it’s your partner, friend, parent, or sibling, we all have personal limits, and expressing boundaries lets our loved ones know what’s acceptable and within our comfort zone. But 5 out of 6 people have some trouble expressing boundaries, so while we know it’s a good thing, how do we go about it (Thriving Center of Psychology)?
That’s why we’ve collected a few helpful tips for setting boundaries, as well as ways to enforce them with the utmost kindness and understanding.
Check out these apps that help you stay connected with loved ones, even when there may be distance. Some of them are excellent tools for kindly set up a boundary, while still keeping in touch.
#1 Get comfortable saying “no.”
If you’re struggling with setting boundaries, you may likely have some people-pleasing tendencies. That’s why it’s essential to be firm when you’re setting a healthy boundary.
Saying “no” may sound harsh, but there are ways to avoid sounding hurtful. Set your boundary with a “no.” but say it with kindness. It’ll help keep the conversation calm. But remember, “No.” is a full sentence.
What to do? Rehearse pocket phrases
If you’re not quite at the “no.” stage, fear not, there are a couple of answers you could give. Practice a couple of pocket phrases that you can use that reaffirm your boundary without jumping straight to no. Here are a few to extend your “no”, while not caving to explain with an excuse.
- “Nice suggestion! Let me think about that first, and I’ll get back to you.”
- “I actually have a lot on my plate right now, so I can’t help you out here. I appreciate that you thought of me, though! Good luck on getting it done.”
- “I understand you’re having a hard time, and I want to be there for you, but I don’t have the emotional capacity myself to listen right now.”
- “I’d love to help, but I already made plans.”
#2 Have patience. It may take time.
So you’ve been thinking about this problem and setting your boundary. Your loved one may not have even known they were doing something that makes you uncomfortable. It may take a little time for your loved one to reflect and understand where you’re coming from.
What to do? Send a thoughtful text
They may be upset, too. Consider sending them a text reaffirming how much you care for them and hope you can come to an understanding. You could consider asking them to think about whether they have any boundaries they want to set with you, too.
Maybe your friendship has been a little rocky while you figure out boundaries. Show each other love with one of these cute ideas, like sending a postcard or staying in touch by playing games.
#3 Consider realistic expectations
To start, having realistic expectations doesn’t mean giving in or accepting that nothing will change. It’s just important to recognize how likely it is that your loved one will put the effort in, and if so, how much. This will help you avoid disappointment, and gauge how much effort you want to give yourself.
What to do? Discuss what you’re willing to compromise on (if anything)
Communicating your boundaries and expectations is essential, but if you feel expressing them might be met with resistance, then think about what would be a middle ground for you. How much compromise are you willing to shoulder, if any?
It may not be the end goal, but it may help a loved one feel like they aren’t being cut loose. Rather, the relationship is a work in progress.
If you and your loved one are open to compromise, there are some long-distance ideas for the two of you to connect while still ensuring your needs are met.
#4 Take time for yourself
With social media and our phones giving us constant contact, we’re all seemingly ‘available’ 24/7. But this can be unhealthy. Sometimes, we need a solid hour or two where we’re able to focus on self-care.
Unfortunately, self-care and taking time for yourself are sometimes mistakenly seen as selfish. But having time to reflect and relax is important for your well-being and can help improve your relationships with loved ones.
Take an hour or two to digitally detox. Have a mini spa session, cook your favorite meal, exercise, read a book, or simply lounge around for a little “me time”.
What to do? Schedule specific one-on-one time
It may take a little extra planning, but if you’re focused on taking time for your own self-care, consider carving out a specific date or time to see your loved one. This way they will still spend time with you, but you’ve set the boundary that you can’t drop everything to be there when they want. Take the plunge and turn off your WhatsApp read receipts to decrease the social pressure!
Now that you know how to set and stick to your boundaries, you can learn how to stay close to your loved ones!