How to Set Healthy Boundaries and Step into Your Sovereignty
Apr 20, 2021
Do you have healthy boundaries or unhealthy boundaries with others? For most of us, we didn't learn this is childhood which manifests as a difficulty with setting boundaries as an adult.
Boundaries are the clear limits that separate you (your thoughts, beliefs, needs, emotions, and physical and emotional spaces) from others.  They are necessary in order for you to develop and maintain authentic relationships. And they are critical to your overall wellness.
If you didn't have the space to express your individual emotions, opinions, thoughts, feelings, beliefs in childhood, or if you were engaged in family groupthink (We do this, not that. We believe this, not that.), then you likely weren't given the chance to express your authentic self.
Perhaps you were afraid to express your thoughts and emotions because of how your parents or friends would react. Maybe you felt guilty if you had different beliefs than other family members. You may have felt that your safety and security were at stake if you didn't always agree with the rest of the family.
"Boundaries provide a necessary foundation for every relationship you have - most importantly, the one you have with yourself." 
In order to step into your sovereignty and break co-dependent relationships, you must be able to set healthy boundaries.
That means they aren't too loose and they aren't too rigid. They are flexible.
While many people struggle with very loose or non-existent boundaries, others have gone to the opposite extreme and create super rigid boundaries. Neither extreme is healthy. The goal is it have clear, firm and flexible boundaries.
Here's a breakdown of the categories as described in the book, How to Do the Work. You can see which category you may fall into. You may find that multiple categories apply to you depending on different areas of your life. Simply observe without judgment to see where you can improve.
- You have few intimate/close relationships
- Chronic fear of rejection
- Difficulty asking for help
- Extremely private
- You engage in compulsive people-pleasing
- You define your self worth by the opinions of others
- General inability to say no
- Consistently overshares private information
- You're a chronic fixer/helper/saver/rescuer
I've been doing the work in this area for a couple of years now and it's a process. In the past, I had very loose boundaries in many areas of my life. In other areas of my life I created super rigid boundaries.
Now I'm bringing awareness to these areas and creating more flexible, clear boundaries. So what does that look like?
EXAMPLES OF HEALTHY BOUNDARIES:
- You are able to say YES and NO authentically, and you are okay when others say no to you. This means that you stop people pleasing and saying yes to things that you don't want to do because you're afraid of letting others down or rejection. You can say NO without guilt or shame. You can also say YES to things you do want to do without feeling selfish.
- You know who you are; you have a strong sense of identity. You don't mold yourself to fit into the crowd. You're confident in yourself and your values, beliefs, and opinions. You also respect other's values, beliefs, and opinions.
- You respect yourself. Your inner dialog is loving and compassion, not self-judging and shaming.
- You expect reciprocity in a relationship and you share responsibility and power. You are neither overly responsible and controlling nor passive and dependent.
- You know when a problem is yours and when it belongs to someone else. You don't take on other people's problems as your own. You recognize and value self-responsibility.
- You know your wants, needs, and feelings and you can communicate them clearly. You don't allow others to determine your wants, needs, feelings.
- You don't tolerate abuse or disrespect.
- You share personal information gradually in a mutually trusting relationship.
- You are committed to and responsible for exploring and nurturing your full potential. You don't allow other's expectation of you to define your potential. Nor do you lose sight of your dreams and aspirations.
- You are responsible for your own happiness and fulfillment, and you allow others to be responsible for their own happiness and fulfillment.
- You value your opinions, instincts, and feelings as much or more than other people's opinions and feelings. You do not rely on the feelings, ideas and opinions of others more than your own.
- You know and respect your limits (both emotionally and physically), and you allow others to define their own limits.
- You are able to ask for help when you need it. You do not see it as a form of weakness.
- You do not compromise your values and integrity to avoid rejection or adversity.
- You trust your inner voice and intuitive guidance. You do not rely on others for direction in your life.
- Adapted from Truthfully by Rose Cole
There are 3 steps to create new, healthy boundaries.
- Define the boundary
- Set the boundary by communicating it to others
- Maintain the boundary by keeping your word
Boundary setting is one of the most important steps and most difficult steps you'll encounter on your healing journey. I struggled with boundaries in all areas of my life, but once I became aware of these tendencies, I could begin to change. It's a process. It's uncomfortable. Not everyone is going to like it. You'll make mistakes. And it leads to freedom, expansion, and living from a place of authenticity.