Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP
How can we pursue and set healthy boundaries, where we live the life we want to live, rather than existing in another person’s shadow? I believe it starts by knowing what you like, need, want, and don’t want, and then making choices which are aligned with those needs and wants. That doesn’t mean you live your life without compromise or flexibility; you just don’t give into the demands and unrealistic expectations of others. Following are some thoughts and actions that lead to healthier boundaries:
- Develop a strong sense of personal identity. Realize and take pride in what makes you unique.
- Respect yourself. Feel an inner confidence and assurance, independent of praise from others.
- Be respectful of others. Look for positive and honorable qualities in others.
- Forgive. Forgive others and yourself. Move on from past mistakes and difficult situations.
- Accept accountability. When things go wrong, be accountable for your mistakes without pointing fingers at others.
- Teach your lips to say no. Understand that you are free to say yes or no. And, when appropriate, you should do so without feelings of guilt, anger or fear.
- Expect mutual benefit in relationships. Whether at work or at home, healthy relationships should provide value and benefit for both parties. It likely won’t be the same for each of you, but it should be a shared venture.
- Welcome feedback. Some feedback is positive, and some is constructive. Understand the intent of the other person, and try to look past how it was delivered. Choose to learn and grow from feedback you receive.
- Refuse to take on the problems of others. It is admirable to help others through difficult situations; however, there is a big difference between offering assistance and accepting another person’s problem as your own.
- Celebrate successes. Celebrate personal accomplishments by treating yourself to a movie, taking a vacation day to do what you want, indulging in a small treat, etc. Additionally, get in the habit of noticing and applauding the success of others. By recognizing another person’s achievements, you are demonstrating value and appreciation for their effort and results.
I realize that treating the disease to please and making brave choices in the process isn’t easy. Putting your needs first and teaching others how to treat us can be very difficult. Actually admitting how you feel to yourself may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Yet I have found that after feeling a little guilty at first, you likely will have less stress in your life—eventually feeling and being much happier, more liberated, and a lot stronger. You will be a better you.