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Setting boundaries can be really scary when you’re not used to it. But I’ve learned how to set boundaries with kindness, and it’s not so bad anymore! Read on to find out more.
When you’re not used to setting boundaries, it can feel mean. I understand, because it used to feel like that for me too.
And you know where it comes from? Childhood. Yep! When I tried to set boundaries as a child, it didn’t work out for me. My parents didn’t allow us kids to set boundaries. So, I developed the belief that setting them is mean.
So, I used to run from any situation where I had to set a boundary because it intimidated me so much. I didn’t want to come across as rude.
However, it’s very far from the truth! Setting boundaries is not only necessary, but can be done kindly.
And there are times when you simply need to set a boundary, and there’s no way around that. If this is something you struggle with, here are a few tips to set boundaries with kindness.
First of all, it’s important to be very clear with the other person when you’re setting a boundary.
When you’re vague or make them guess, it can be very confusing for them. So, in order to save them the trouble of trying to guess what you mean, just be clear to begin with.
For instance, imagine if your friend asked you to hang out on Friday, but you really don’t want to. It’s your night for yourself! Instead of saying, “I might stop by, not sure…” you could just make it clear from the get-go, “I can’t, but thanks for the invite!” Isn’t that so much nicer than leading them on, and having them wonder if you’ll stop by or not?
Also, be assertive! Saying clearly and directly what you want is a simple way to make sure you’re both understood and respected.
So, don’t make them guess. It’s not nice. Be clear and assertive!
One thing that helps me a lot is to remind myself that boundaries are a way to take care of myself.
When you focus on how “mean” a boundary feels, you just make yourself feel worse.
Instead, focus on how loving you’re being!
For instance, you’re planning to do your weekly groceries tomorrow night and your friend asks you to help her with her resume at the same time. Isn’t it loving to yourself to follow through with your plans to take care of your needs by honoring your own plans to go grocery shopping? In my opinion, yes it is! Maybe you can help your friend at a time that works better for you. Win-win for everyone.
So, keep your focus on the fact that boundaries are an act of self-love.
Another tactic for setting boundaries with kindness is to verbalize your feelings. Let the other person know how you feel and what you need.
If we take our example from above, maybe your friend keeps pressing you to come over on Friday and asks why you aren’t available. You could respond, “I’m feeling burnt out with work this week. I need time alone at the end of the week to recharge my batteries.”
Then, you’ve clearly stated what you need and how you feel. And it makes it a lot more difficult for your friend to keep pushing.
However, it’s possible she might. And guess what? She might not be the greatest friend if she can’t understand that you’re simply meeting your own needs by turning down her invitation. Perhaps it’s not a friendship you need.
When you keep the focus on your needs and feelings, it makes it easier to set boundaries with kindness.
As a recovering people pleaser, I know firsthand how easy it can be to give 1,000 explanations for saying no.
Sometimes, that gets me in trouble and I end up getting talked into saying yes. Sigh. I hate when I let that happen.
What works for me is to practice simply saying, “No thanks!” without any explanation. When you do that, most of the time people back off.
When they keep pressing, you can smile and say it again. Eventually, they get the hint. Give it a try!
Keeping it simple with a little, “No thanks!” is an easy way to set a kind boundary.
Finally, when it comes to setting boundaries with kindness, try not to get defensive or angry.
When you can speak in a neutral tone of voice, it helps keep the conversation neutral as well.
But when you start raising your voice or get defensive, it brings a different tone to the conversation. Then, it can feel like conflict. And you might even start feeling mean, which is the opposite of what we want.
So, try to keep your tone of voice nice and neutral to set that boundary with kindness.
I know firsthand that setting boundaries can feel mean, but it doesn’t have to! I hope these tips will help you set them with kindness.