Where it all comes from.
Poor boundaries are almost always a reflection of low self-esteem (and vice versa), and something needs to be done to address the one for the other to improve. Let’s start with self-esteem.
To build self-esteem, you need to first understand that it’s simply the by-product of being a competent, well-adjusted human being. Self-esteem is not something that you pursue for its own sake. Doing that isn’t only unhelpful—it’s toxic.
Self-esteem is how you think you’re doing in your life, relative to how everyone else is doing. If you have low self-esteem, most likely you’re not doing well by some metric or other. And the most important thing you can do is to practice compassion for yourself.
Everyone lacks something or fails in some ways.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Accept your flaws and learn to be comfortable with them, then work on becoming better.
It’s by accepting yourself as you are, and then working on yourself that you can build self-esteem. This is hard work, and it takes time. But you’ll end up in a far nicer place than you are in now.
As you come to feel higher esteem for yourself, healthy boundaries will slowly emerge in your life.
You will instinctively know what you will or will not tolerate from others, you will draw the line and enforce it, and remove yourself from toxic relationships.
Start with these 7 rules:
- Set your boundaries, literally. This is easier said than done. But you will get nowhere unless you define what your personal boundaries are. What will you tolerate or not tolerate in your life? What behaviors will you accept or not accept? From your family, your partner, your friends, your colleagues, your neighbors, your date, teachers, kid’s friends, etc.
- Decide what the consequences are when someone breaks one of your rules, because they will. It will be difficult to think of what the consequences should be once it will happen. You don’t need to be an ass but being direct and following through will only prove you mean what you say. You’ll be biased by the person, the context, and a myriad other factor. Decide prior to it happens.
- Communicate the above clearly. Make your boundaries known. This is particularly important for the people closest to you. It’s probably okay for the mailman to not know all your boundaries (save for the basic ones like not breaking down your door to deliver mail), but it’s absolutely not alright for your partner to not know when they’d be crossing the line.
- Follow through. If someone crosses your boundaries, do what you said you would. Be compassionate, but be firm.
- We teach others how to treat us. People do what works until it does not work anymore. How people treat you is a direct reflection of how you allow them to treat you.
- Saying “No” should not hurt. You have to learn how to say no without feeling guilty. Self-respect is a choice and it begins with knowing you can say no and practice self-care.
- You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your boundaries. It is not mean to have them, it is healthy. Stating what you will and will not do is productive and you will gain the self-respect you are looking for.
You can do it! Now that you know what needs to be done, I want to encourage you to be brave. There is a better you on the other side.
Interested in more? I would love to meet to you! Email or call anytime to schedule an in-person or virtual session. (817) 701-5438 | firstname.lastname@example.org
CRT, CCDC, CACC | Counselor & Life Coach