Setting Boundaries Helps Others Know How to View and Treat You
Updated: Aug 17
You Determine How Others Treat You by the Things You Allow
Boundaries are an important part in establishing how you show up in the world. We often know we need to set boundaries for our own mental health, but don’t know how. Then we end up becoming angry and resentful when others cross that unmarked line.
According to healthypyschology.com there are 6 main advantages to setting healthy boundaries. They are…
Good Mental Health
Good Emotional Health
Avoidance of Burnout
Influence Others Behavior
Tiny Habits® teaches us ways to safely integrate the boundaries we’ve set so we can protect ourselves by keeping them in place. The Tiny Habits method helps you implement new boundaries more consistently and apply them immediately into your own life.
We teach others how to treat us. Creating boundaries is a healthy way to get what we expect out of others.
Sometimes we don’t know where we need to set boundaries. By the time we realize we are in an unhealthy situation, we might be knee-deep in the muck. If this is you then it’s time to start taking mental notes when this happens so you can be better prepared to avoid such situations in the future.
Any time you feel resentful or disempowered you need boundaries. Ask: What is it about this situation that makes me angry? Identifying where you feel angry, resentful, or frustrated is the first step.
Here’s an example I’m currently dealing with. I am redoing one of my bathrooms and am in the middle of a purchasing transaction with a flooring company that is not going well. I didn’t go in with expectations and it has become an issue. From the first conversation, they showed me that they would be doing the bare minimum to get my flooring in. In fact, they tried to tell me it was out of stock, yet I could see it was there, and made the calls and emails to arrange all the moving parts. Each time I called to make sure all was in order I was treated as though they were unaware of who I was or what I had ordered. Always leaving the conversation assuring me they would call on a certain day with more information. The return calls never came and I continued to pick up their slack to push this order through. Taking time out of my workday and remodeling to do the job I was paying them to do.
I am understanding and empathetic because this is all happening during a pandemic, but in hindsight, I can see how they were showing me how I would be treated. Red flags popped up at every turn, yet I persisted. Feeling as though I was offering a helping hand in moving my transaction along. I felt frustrated after every interaction and questioned how I allowed myself to get here.
If I had gone into this contract with the boundary that I buy from places that are willing to be of service to me, I would have been able to identify early on that this is the wrong flooring company and ordered from another one. It was clear that they didn’t care about my business. If I had set a boundary I wouldn’t be in this situation.
Using the Tiny Habits method I could ask, “What boundary needed to be set in order to move through this more gracefully?” Questions like this prompted me to create a habit of dealing only with customer-focused businesses. My Tiny Habit recipe was this: After I feel frustrated with a company I am dealing with, I will ask: Is this company being of service to me? Here are two examples of how I could use statements as boundaries.
“I don’t deal with places that treat me badly.”
“I know I’m overly empathetic and I let things slide, but I don’t need to be understanding, BOOM! I'm out of here.”
This is a situation where it’s not necessary for me to share my boundary with this business. Rather it’s a boundary of standards I set for myself. An important element in boundary-setting is determining whether it's just a boundary you set inside yourself, or if it’s something you need to express. Many times, if you set a boundary within yourself that is all you need to do. Other times you will need to have a statement ready as part of your new habit.
For instance, if your friend often offers unsolicited advice, you can decide that you no longer appreciate that within yourself and then prepare to say something in the moment. A Tiny Habits recipe could be: After my friend gives me unsolicited advice, I will say: Thank you. I’d really love your support and empathy instead.
Once you are aware of your boundaries you can decide when it’s appropriate to be flexible.
If you work with people all around the world and you get emails at all hours of the day and that’s frustrating, you need a work-hour boundary. Otherwise, you are constantly responding, sending a message that you are available to do that. This is unhealthy and then clients begin to expect it.
A healthy boundary here might be to set up an autoresponder with your hours and only check-in during those times. People will get that. Constantly answering emails and working on others' time leaves you feeling unproductive because you are constantly playing catch up with all the distractions. This is common and is a huge time suck.
You are actually doing a disservice to yourself and your company by not setting a boundary.
I think a lot of people have resistance to setting boundaries because they are afraid someone will get mad. Then there's a belief that you have time to be interrupted. But by setting boundaries in order to be more productive, healthier, and happier you will be more productive, healthier, and happier. You're going to get more done, feel better, and everyone who depended on you will get what they want too!
Sometimes there's negotiating going on. Some things you need to bend on. If you work with someone in Paris and the only time you can meet is outside of your work-time you need to evaluate your work schedule in a healthy way.
There can be exceptions. Thoughtful, considered, intentional exceptions. Not just out of fear that someone might get mad at you. Compromise happens if you might need to get up early or stay later to accommodate.
Boundaries don’t have to always be black and white. There is power in setting boundaries. It teaches others what to expect when dealing with you and then you get to decide if and when they are broken.
I don’t work for managers that yell at me.
I don’t date people who talk down to me.
Boundaries could be something you set and not say out loud, but you need to be clear about your boundary so when it happens you know it and can walk away. That will be scary and you will need to breathe through it.
Another important factor is to identify if a boundary needs to be set or if you are just upset you didn’t get what you wanted?
This can clearly be identified by check out reviews on Yelp! You can start to see by reading those one-star reviews if this was a personal problem of unmet expectations or something more. We’ve all been angry for not getting our way on something, but that’s different than boundaries. However, if you create strong boundaries those upsetting issues come up a lot less frequently.
Boundaries for Yourself
This is probably the most important aspect of boundaries. In a way, all boundaries fall back into this category: Boundaries with yourself. How often do you forgo your “me time” to meet someone else’s expectations or time constrictions? Or worse, how often do you lay in bed groggy instead of getting up and doing that half-hour meditation you said you would do?
We all break self-care routines for a variety of reasons. Then when we finally get back to them we remember why we love it so and question why we ever stopped in the first place.
Breaking plans with yourself to prioritize others’ needs is not okay and a boundary must be set. Otherwise, your story changes from identifying as someone who cares for themselves to someone who doesn’t have time to care for themselves.
A good boundary would be...I take care of myself first, so I can take care of everybody else.
Start with a simple boundary. Get used to identifying with it. Once you start to notice your boundaries they will become more clear. Don’t get overwhelmed, just notice the boundaries and keep fine-tuning and adjusting.
Keep bringing yourself back to your boundary. Practice it.
Be clear and notice it so you can notice where it’s getting poked at and see how it feels to hold that boundary or break it.
Look at your environment, you will start to bring in and associate with people who respect your boundaries
Begin to set a new habit around it.
After I know I need to set a boundary I will…(fill in what you will do here)
The key is to start small and work up the confidence of going bigger as you begin to see the strength and power behind them. No longer will you find yourself dealing with people who don’t respect your time or value your opinions. It takes practice, but the more you do it the easier it gets and the faster you will be at identifying where you need one.