Tips for setting boundaries

Boundaries allow us to cope with the realities of life, find balance and happiness, and keep our priorities in check.

January 5, 2018 - Author: Jennifer Weichel, Michigan State University Extension

You may have heard about setting boundaries and considered it a great idea for those that have children. Boundaries are good for children but they should be also be considered for groups, professionals, relationships and social media.

When setting a boundary, you should be able to describe what behavior you find acceptable or unacceptable, what will happen if the unacceptable occurs, and what steps you will take to protect that boundary. Here are some practical tips from Michigan State University Extension for setting boundaries:

  • Recognize your own feelings. Get in touch with your feelings and know what is bothering you. What are the specific items in your day that cause you stress or frustration? When you recognize what they are, you can work to resolve them. Be specific so you can get results.
  • Recognize when a boundary has been crossed. Are other people infringing on your time or space? Sometimes setting boundaries means renegotiating a boundary you previously set.  
  • Recognize what boundaries need to be set. You must be able to identify what is causing you to feel overwhelmed, stressed or disrespected. When you have identified this, you can work to resolve the issue by setting a boundary. If responding to emails after 6 p.m. is affecting your family time, you may decide to let coworkers know that you will only respond to emails from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • Make them known. Politely and firmly state your boundaries so they may be respected and understood. Your boundaries do not have to be debated; you get to decide what works for you.
  • Take care of you. When others do not agree with your boundaries or you say no to something, you may feel guilty. Deal with any feelings of guilt you may have by exercising, meditating or relaxing. You need to escape the drama that others may choose to create and let it go. You do not need to attend every argument to which you are invited.

Boundaries allow us to cope with the realities of life, find balance, achieve happiness, and keep our priorities in check. Do not be afraid of them; use them as a guide to help you navigate your way to happiness. 

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