How to Stop Being Violated and Set Healthy Boundaries

We often hear about boundaries and how they’re essential to establish and maintain. 

But what are they really?

How do we set boundaries in the first place?

What do we do if someone crosses it? 

You should feel bold when making boundaries and unafraid.

When setting boundaries, you need to make that commitment to uphold them. 

If you’re not familiar with setting boundaries, it can feel awkward, unnatural, and even mean (it’s not). 

At first, people may not like it and might not respond well to them if they’re used to getting their way with you. 

“Some people, especially family, will choose to remember and recognize only the version of you that they held the most power over, no matter how long its been or how much you’ve changed.”

It’s a skill that needs to be learned and improved. 

We might fear the other person’s response or guilt about speaking up or saying no, or you might even have self-doubt. 

But stick with it. Keep it up. It’s worth doing poorly at first, and it will get easier and more natural in time. 

Some believe you should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because you’re a “good parent/friend/significant other,” but you deserve to have boundaries. They’re a sign of a healthy relationship and self-respect. 

Give yourself permission to set them and preserve them.

Benefits of Healthy Boundary Setting

It contributes to others’ well-being. 

You become free from continuous bad behavior, fear, or pain. 

You increase your self-esteem and self-respect. 

You gain more respect from others. 

It’s required for honest and direct communication.

Practicing self-care and putting yourself first allows you to have more energy, a better mentality, and to be more present. When you’re in this better place, you can be a better friend, parent, significant other, coworker, etc.

Tips for Setting Healthy Boundaries

Reinforce your communicated boundary with an action or consequence.

Be direct, firm, and also gracious. 

Don’t debate, defend, or over-explain. 

Have support readily available and nearby in the beginning. 

Stay strong, and don’t give in.

“When you’re not used to being confident, confidence feels like arrogance. When you’re not used to being passive, assertiveness feels like aggression. When you’re not used to getting your needs met, prioritizing your needs feels selfish. Your comfort zone is not a good benchmark.”

Examples of Setting Healthy Boundaries

If they’re angry – “You may not continue to yell at me. If you do, I will leave this room, and this discussion will be over.”

If they’re pressuring you for an immediate response – “I have a rule of not making quick decisions. I need time to think and reflect on what I want to do. If you need an immediate answer, it will be no.”

If they criticize – “Please stop making comments about my weight. If you don’t, I wont be able to continue this conversation.”

If they ask you to take on responsibilities  – “Although I would love to help and this issue is important to me, I must decline at this time.” Or “I need to honor my families needs.”

If they ask for money – “I care about you, and you need to start taking responsibility for yourself. Therefore, wont be lending you anymore money.”

“I will end the meeting at the scheduled time.” Not, “You need to respect my time.”

“If you are late, we will start without you.” Not, “You need to be here on time.”

“I would like it if you did these specific things, and if you don’t, that’s okay, but I won’t spend any more time working on this relationship.” Not, “You need to be more thoughtful and considerate.”

How to Start

  1. Identify what’s previously or currently being violated or ignored. Identify your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits. What can you tolerate and accept, and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed?
  2. Identify the irrational or unhealthy thinking and beliefs by which you allow your boundaries to be ignored or violated.
  3. Identify new, more rational, healthy thinking and beliefs that will encourage you to change your behaviors to build healthy boundaries between you and others.
  4. Identify new behaviors you need to add to your healthy boundary-building toolkit to sustain healthy boundaries between you and others.
  5. Implement the healthy boundary-building beliefs and behaviors in your life so that your space, privacy, and rights are no longer ignored or violated. 

Be respectful about letting someone know that something bothers you. People aren’t mind readers. They don’t know everything that may hurt or trigger you or know when they’ve crossed a boundary.

Depending on their personality, you will have to be more direct with some people. You won’t have to be so direct with others if they share similar beliefs or communication styles. 

Talk Is Cheap

It’s not enough to just establish them. 

You need to uphold them and be willing to enforce them and provide consequences if necessary. 

It’s the follow-through actions you’re willing to take (such as leaving the room in the earlier example).

Establish consequences with the person clearly and non-emotionally. 

They might be negotiable rather than written in stone. 

Only set a consequence if you’re willing to follow through. Don’t say you’ll leave the room, conversation, or relationship if you’re not ready to do those things. 

If people are unwilling to respect your boundaries, they are not true friends or people you want to spend time with. 

Having consequences if your established boundaries aren’t followed is an action you take to take care of yourself. It’s not about what they do.

Examples of Consequences

“If you continue to ignore my solutions or suggestions, I will assume you are not interested in receiving my help and I will stop working with you in this capacity.”

“If you do not text/call me when you’re going to be late, I will bring it up and let you know I feel.”

“If you continue this behavior that I already asked you to stop, I will leave the room/house/or ask you to leave.” 

“If you continue to repeat the behavior, I will consider all of my options, including leaving the relationship.”

Know the Things You Can Change

If you find yourself slipping and not sustaining your boundaries, ask, “what’s changed?”

What are you or the other person doing? What’s making you resentful or stressed? Once you find those out and hone into your feelings, honor them and ask yourself what you will do about the situation and what you have control over.

Setting boundaries and limits are important to how you lead your life and your quality of relationships.

Start small. Know what needs to change and then take steps to work towards that change. Have a conversation. Verbalize what you don’t like and what needs to change. Set an action if your wishes are not honored, and follow through. 

It won’t be easy at first, but it will be worth it.

Seek support if you need help. Help can be found with a support group, church, counseling, coaching, or with friends. Talking about it and role-playing can be very helpful.

Now go out there and start establishing healthy boundaries for yourself!


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