Our boundaries are always being tested– at work, by our family and friends, and even our exs. Setting limits can be difficult, particularly when it brings up feelings of guilt for us. This is why it is so important to work through those feelings of guilt. We need to realize that creating limits and saying “no” to others is not a bad thing. First and foremost, it is about self-preservation. Boundaries help you protect you, and only you really know how much you can tolerate in terms of a work load, need for sleep, some “me” time, etc.
With a partner or relative, another point to consider is that you don’t want to let resentment build up. When we take on too much for others, or repeatedly allow someone to avoid consequences, we risk creating an unhealthy dynamic that slowly, but surely will erode the relationship. Speaking up and setting boundaries, can actually help reduce tension and restore balance to the relationship.
With former partners, if you share custody of children with them, boundaries are essential to being good co-parents and modeling good behavior for your kids. Setting limits in your communications with exs is also important if you want any chance of finding a decent new partner.
Inevitably, there might be some backlash when we try to establish new limits. To clearly communicate our new expectations and work through any feelings of guilt or anger that might bubble up during the implementation process, many people find it helpful to work with a life coach/mental health professional.
My final tip is to simply understand that it is a work in progress for all of us. It’s not easy to take responsibility for your part, and gently but firmly hold others accountable for their actions, but the key is to not allow your boundaries to collapse. Here is a 9 minute video with life coach, Nicoletta Pichardo, who explains the importance of setting and maintaining boundaries: