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Finding boundaries and learning to apply them! -your 5 step guide.

Boundaries are the vital element we all need to remain healthy and happy. They are the safety lines from behind which we can keep our wellbeing free from harm.

Starry movie scenes often depict relationships as ‘sweep you off your feet’ moments of momentary epiphany. These scenes can be exhilarating to watch on screen - and to experience! But beyond the excitement of early days of dating, it’s vitally important to communicate what your boundaries are to the person you’re spending your valuable time with. It’s all part of keeping your self-esteem healthily intact.

Boundaries vary for everyone, which can make them difficult to define. There are some basic ground rules of respect that should apply to us all. But what is acceptable to one person might not be acceptable to someone else.

For example, one person may find it acceptable for their partner to have multiple partners, within an agreed polyamorous relationship. But for someone else, the line of fidelity is not one that can ever be crossed.

Once you have ascertained your boundaries, how do you go about communicating them?

How do we let someone know what our boundaries are, without causing conflict?

Here is your 5 step guide to finding and applying your boundaries.

1) Reflect on your past experiences to identify your future rules.

We have all experienced hurt or rejection at some point in our lives. It’s all part and parcel of being the vulnerable humans we are. 

It’s also part of our strength, in being able to feel the emotions that we do. 

Draw upon the episodes in your life where you felt hurt to learn what wasn’t acceptable to you. 

Did someone trick you? Lie to you? Did they prioritise their needs above yours repeatedly? 

Listen to your past and let it inform your future, so the next time someone does something similar you’ll be able to know you don’t allow it anymore.

2) Consider how you would like to be treated, and apply it both ways.

Our moral compass becomes apparent once we apply one simple question; could I treat someone else the way I am being treated? If it is a clear ‘no’ then you have your answer. Here lies your boundary, without you even realising. Communicate to the person causing a problem that you would not treat them in the same way and so you do not expect the same in return. If they continue to perpetuate the harmful behaviour then this confirms they are not someone who aligns with you. It might be time to step away, either temporarily or indefinitely.

3) Learn to love yourself, to expect higher treatment.

Lack of boundaries usually stems from a co-dependent need to keep people close, even when they are harmful to us. 

If you can develop true self-love then you will automatically find yourself spotting moments where your boundaries are being crossed. 

Be a true friend to yourself - and save that friend from harm! No one’s perfect and it might be an issue that can be resolved. 

But if the issue keeps coming back then you need to let the other person know it is unacceptable either by disengaging from interaction until their behaviour changes.

4) Consider what your ideal relationship would look like.

Many people daydream about life ‘they could lead’ without realising many parts of that dream scene could be true of their real-life! There’s no reason why you shouldn’t expect the best for yourself. This includes your relationships, including your friendships. What you focus on you bring into your life, so focus on what is right for you. Take some time to visualise what your ideal relationship would look like, down to small details. Keep this in mind as you progress forward, using it as a template of reference. No relationship is perfect, but by having an idea of what you want you’ll be able to rule out relationships that don’t contain the key values you hope for.

5) Stand strong in the person you are. 

You are full of value and worth, that is dictated by anyone except you. 

So when we are attracted to someone, or indeed when we fall in love, our vision can become a little clouded. 

We might bend a little on the values we thought we stood strong in to keep someone in our lives a little longer. 

The danger of doing so is that we lose who we really are while allowing people into our personal space that may not belong there. 

If someone is regularly asking you to change who you are, or ignoring your boundaries, then this is something that needs addressing. 

Be proud of who you are - including what you value! The right person will appreciate you in the way you deserve.

Finding our personal boundaries is one thing. Applying them is another. It can seem a little scary to speak up for the first time about what we want for ourselves, particularly if this is something we aren’t used to doing. It can be even more difficult to do so with someone that we fear may react badly if we do use our voices to express our ‘safety lines’. However, you have every right to be respected. You have every right to feel comfortable and safe around others. You get to determine what that looks like for you.

Ultimately, the right people will accept you for who you are. Your personal level of self-esteem is incredibly important, and not something that deserves to be messed with. Surround yourself with those that appreciate you and everything that comes with the package.

As we move through life our personal boundaries may alter slightly in response to each new situation and as we learn more about who we are. This is perfectly natural and a very normal part of life.

Never forget your value, this above all else is what matters most of all. You are worth celebrating and embracing as the unique individual you are - every last bit of you.