Learning to Set Boundaries for a Healthier, Happier Life

Learning to Set Boundaries for a Healthier, Happier Life

Draven Jackson
Blogger | Teacher

One of my favorite quotes from Mandy Hale is, “It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.” Being able to set boundaries is a necessity for living a happy, healthy life. When we don’t set boundaries with people or effectively communicate our personal needs and discomfort, many times we end up feeling mistreated or overlooked.

More often than not, when someone you love hurts you, they do so unintentionally. People can be a bit self-absorbed when there are things going on in their own lives that take up their attention, and while a simple statement or offhand comment may seem like no big deal, you never know when you are inadvertently poking at someone else’s wounds or making them uncomfortable. In order to avoid letting yourself be walked on or possibly hurting someone else without meaning to, here are some important things to consider when learning to set boundaries.

Understand Why You Need the Boundary

The first step in trying to set boundaries is understanding why you need those boundaries. More often than not, boundaries stem from personal trauma or anxiety, and understanding the underlying reason why certain things make you feel sad, stressed, or uncomfortable can make it easier for you to build strong limits.

While some people may view boundaries negatively, they are actually a positive aspect of self-care – when you put yourself and your needs first, you are giving your mind and body room to grow and heal. Boundaries are important because they help you create a safe space for yourself in your own life, and understanding why you need certain boundaries will only help you improve your mental health and well-being.

Communicate Your Needs Clearly with the People Around You

Learning to Set Boundaries for a Healthier, Happier LifeAfter you understand why you need to set boundaries, the next step is communicating those boundaries clearly with the people around you. If you are surrounding yourself with good people, then they should be receptive to listening to your needs and doing what they can to make sure you’re comfortable and happy. Don’t be afraid to sit down with your loved ones and clearly tell them your boundaries and personal limits.

Establishing boundaries with the people around you is good for helping you to separate your thoughts, feelings, and needs from your friends’ or family’s feelings and needs. Too often, we mix our emotions and thoughts with our loved ones’ without realizing that by taking care of someone else, we may be unintentionally overlooking our own well-being. By setting boundaries, you can create an individual space where your voice can be heard and your mental and physical health are taken care of.

Set Boundaries from the Beginning and Stick to Them

I find this to be an incredibly difficult thing to do because I don’t like to disappoint or displease anyone, but one thing to remember when you are trying to set boundaries is that it’s important to communicate them from the beginning and then be consistent about them. With any new relationship, there is a certain grace period for learning about each other and being more forgiving if boundaries are unconsciously crossed.

However, it’s important to communicate and set boundaries as the relationship goes along – don’t let small things add up or else eventually you might feel like the relationship isn’t worth continuing because you are so stressed and overwhelmed. It’s better to talk them through early on so everyone is aware of what each person’s limits are.

And for long-term relationships, make sure to stay consistent with those boundaries. Communicate when you’re uncomfortable so that the other person has the opportunity to understand where they may have gone wrong in certain situations and improve for the future.

Find Time Away When You Need It

One thing to note about learning to set boundaries is that when you’re with someone all the time or see them regularly, of course you are going to need space from them occasionally. If you don’t take time away from them to be alone, then you may begin to feel suffocated or even annoyed by their closeness to you, and the lines between “this requires a boundary” and “I’m just a little agitated right now” may begin to blur.

Always make time for yourself in any relationship, and if you find that you’re a little overwhelmed, don’t feel bad about taking a step away from your social requirements. It’s okay to need space and time on your own just to clear your thoughts, and anyone who is worth being around will respect your needs and understand. Plus, taking personal time is a sign of self-care, and setting boundaries with yourself is just as important as setting boundaries with other people.

Add More Boundaries as You Need Them

People and circumstances change, so it’s normal that sometimes you need to set new boundaries over time. As things happen that make you feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, take a moment to self-reflect on what is going on and why you may feel that way. Then, once you understand your need for a new boundary, make sure to communicate that boundary with the people around you.

Creating boundaries is good for your mental well-being, so always remember to prioritize your health and happiness. This will help you feel more control over yourself and your life.

Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Someone When They Cross Your Boundaries

The most important part of learning to set boundaries is telling people when they cross your boundaries. More often than not it’s unintentional – if they’re someone new to your life, maybe they haven’t learned your limits yet. If it’s someone you’ve known for a while, there’s a chance that they were simply not paying attention or considering how what they said or did might affect you. Even if it was an accident, though, never ignore those little feelings of discomfort or they may grow and fester into something much bigger.

Clearly explain to someone what exactly they said or did that affected you, and then allow them time to reflect so they can understand where things may have gone wrong. It’s important to find a good balance between being firm and gentle when you talk to the other person, but never be afraid to make your needs and intentions clear.

Be Respectful of Other People’s Boundaries

One final thought I want to leave you with as you reflect on the best ways to set boundaries in your own life is that boundaries are a multi-way street – everyone has their own personal limits that they also have to learn to set and stick with. As you begin to set more boundaries, it will also help you recognize the boundaries other people may have.

Respecting other people’s limits is essential for creating a peaceful, cohesive environment. Whether it’s at work, home, or during social events, always be open to listening when other people are trying to set boundaries and respect their needs and wishes in the same way you would want them to respect yours.

Do you have more tips for how to learn to set boundaries? What kind of boundaries do you have in your life? Tell us in the comments!

Draven Jackson HeadshotAbout Draven Jackson

Draven is an avid writer and reader who enjoys sharing her opinions on movies, books, and music with the rest of the world. She will soon be working as a teacher in Japan and hopes to use her experience to connect with other teachers and students around the globe. Draven spends most of her time at home with her family, her dogs, and her ferret.

To see more, view all posts by Draven Jackson here.

16 Comments on “Learning to Set Boundaries for a Healthier, Happier Life”

  1. A very timely and important message for everyone. I believe that most of the problems in the world are a result of people not learning about boundaries on limits when they are growing up. People need to understand that there are boundaries to everything in life that need to be observed. By not keeping within the given boundaries, laws are broken, trusts are abused, and disputes, fights, and wars break out.

  2. I think everyone needs to take this lesson in today’s world. It is so chaotic and stressful. As I gotten older, my boundaries have increased. I don’t need the stress of other when I have so many problems of my own. I have even cut out so called friends and member of my family that did not know how to honor my boundaries. I have to think of myself and not others all of the time, which is how I grew up.

  3. Oh wow reading this article Understand Why You Need the Boundary, wish I would of learned to speak up a long time ago. So many lessons to learn in life. It hurts to read this.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this because you shared some valuable insights. We all must remember self-preservation is of most importance in life. Be Kind to others but most of all be Kind to yourself.

  5. Very helpful advice on setting healthy boundaries and respecting others. It is often so hard to speak up for yourself, but it is so important to be your own advocate.

  6. It took me a l[ng time to learn this but it was a necessity with alot of people in my life. Always remember too that you can’t pour from an empty cup.

  7. I agree!

    Unfortunately one of my parents is a narcissist after learning more about it and also possibly diagnosed via a court evaluation with those two things. in the past with sociopath which probably sounds worse than it is. Growing up it was frustrating as he had almost a jeckle and hide nice/mean streak and would not respect boundaries and could not apologize ever. I didn’t know until I was an adult and did a deep dive what narcissist’s are and how to deal with them. Setting boundaries was a key part and adhering to them! It’s difficult to do sometimes with a loved one as there are good times and memories however I still have to limit interaction sometimes as he doesn’t respect geographical boundaries if I hang out too often he begins to not respect it amongst other things.

  8. I am about to set boundries for a friend who is going through hard times. I want to help but sometimes she takes and takes and its getting to be a burden on me and my family.

  9. I have to set boundaries for my own peace of mind especially since Mom now has dementia and some days are completing draining Most people get it and if they don’t it is there problem

  10. Very informative article! I have learned to set my boundaries after all these years, but I still have a lot to work on.

  11. Setting boundaries is one of the most important things I’ve done @ 47. What I put up with in my younger years I’m finding doesn’t serve me, aid me, or help me grow into my older years. Respecting other peoples’ boundaries is also important. One can’t expect their boundaries to be acknowledged & respected if we’re not willing to do the same for others.

  12. Good words! I think setting healthy boundaries is so important! It’s better for all involved!

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