If You’re Struggling to Set Boundaries, Read This

If you’re struggling to set boundaries, be patient with yourself. 

Learning new things does not happen overnight. It takes practice, intention, and a whole lot of discomfort. 

Learning to set boundaries is no different. It’s not something that just happens one day. 

It’s a skill that’s often developed when we’ve had enough of being walked over, put down, or taken advantage of. And, it doesn’t come easily. 

Experiencing confusion and setbacks is normal when you decide to make any major change in your life. I promise, it’s all part of the process.

I’ve been there too. 

Like many people, I was wasn’t taught how to set boundaries as a child. In fact, the vast majority of my life experiences have reinforced the notion that it’s not okay to set limits. 

As a child and young adult, I was actively encouraged to ignore my need for autonomy when it became too threatening to the adults in my life. 

I was taught to overlook abusive behaviors. 

I was gaslit for trying to protect myself. 

It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I finally said, “enough is enough.” 

After I started therapy, I slowly began to believe that I was important too. I came to realize that it was okay to protect myself. 

But knowing this in theory and putting it into practice were two very different things. 

My first attempts at setting boundaries were through coercion and control. I wanted so badly to assert myself that I was determined to force people into submission!

Although it felt good to stand up for myself, trying to control others with my boundaries didn’t feel quite right. 

It put the responsibility on me to make other people change. I ended up feeling even more relationship stress, and a ton of pressure to change everyone else. 

I spent years approaching boundaries this way, and it took a toll on me. 

But, as human beings usually do, I eventually learned that what I was doing wasn’t working. 

One day it finally sank in that I can not change other people, no matter how eloquently (or aggressively) I make my request. 

I am not responsible for getting other people to follow my boundaries.

I can not coerce people into changing or treating me better. 

These things are on them. 

I am only responsible for deciding what I will and won’t allow in my life. 

After that, my only responsibility is to surrender the outcome, and follow through if people cross my limits. 

It’s easier said than done, I know. But with patience and practice, you’ll get there too. 

Trying to control and coerce others with boundaries is a totally normal response to being walked over, mistreated, and invalidated.  It’s not effective, but it totally makes sense. 

If you’re having some of the same struggles, forgive yourself. Once you forgive yourself, also learn from it. 

Take a long hard look at what’s really important to you. Decide what things you do (and don’t) want in your life, and give yourself permission to set those limits. 

Don’t force anyone to comply. If you need to force them, they’re not your people anyway. 

Simply walk away or distance yourself from those who are no longer in alignment. 

Then, show up for the feelings that come up for you. Because you’ll definitely have some feelings about it. Fear. Guilt. Self-Doubt. These are all a normal part of the process. 

The truth is, setting boundaries isn’t easy for anyone. It’s often wildly uncomfortable. 

But it’s also the first step in creating healthier, more rewarding relationships with ourselves and others. 

I’m so glad I kept showing up for myself, even when I got it wrong – and I bet you will be too. 

You can do this. You’re worth it. 

If you resonate with what you just read, you can learn more about working together here.

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