Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries

Updated October 7, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

We all have limitations in life when it comes to our interactions with those around us. These limits, known as boundaries, prevent people from wreaking havoc on our mental or physical health by letting them know what they are and are not allowed to do when they engage with us. With that said, not everyone knows how to identify or set boundaries.

Wondering How To Start Setting Healthy Boundaries?

Why Is Setting Boundaries Necessary?

Personal boundaries are established when we decide to respect ourselves and give ourselves a voice. They are essentially our own rules that tell other people what lines they should not cross when it comes to what they say and do to us.

If you do not set healthy boundaries in relationships, no matter who the relationship is with, the relationship is likely to suffer. It is vital that each person in a relationship recognize that they are an individual, with their own emotions, preferences, and needs. Once you define your needs and preferences, you can set healthy boundaries. Below, we will take a look at some steps you can take to set healthy boundaries, including how to set boundaries with family.

Steps To Setting Your Personal Boundaries

Boundaries are among the most powerful tools for healthy relationships. Often, individuals give in to peer pressure or involve themselves in situations they should not be in. This can be either because they have not set boundaries or they are struggling to understand their boundaries.

You may be questioning what boundaries are. Boundaries are simply the limits that you set for yourself. These limits will dictate what you are and are not willing to do or participate in. The key here is that your boundaries are not about making anyone, or anything, change.

Step 1: Identify Your Wants

The first step in the process of setting boundaries is to identify what you want. You may be in a position where you are used to giving to others or neglecting your own wants in favor of someone else's wants. Take a moment to sit down and think about what interests you and what you want to get out of a relationship, from a friendship to a romantic relationship. For example, consider the following:

  • What is most important to you when you enter into a relationship?
  • What are some of your values, and what values do you want someone you are close with to have?
  • What do you want most in life?
  • What bothers you the most in a relationship?

Step 2: Give Yourself Permission to Ask for What You Want --Be Specific!

Now that you have identified your wants, it is time to ask for them. This is one of the biggest problems that individuals encounter because they are afraid to ask for what they want. This fear often comes from worrying that the other person will become upset or mad. If you are ready to set boundaries, you need to face this fear. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

The second part of this step is that you need to be clear about what you want. Often, people are not clear enough, and this can cause confusion. As mentioned above, setting personal boundaries is not about changing others. You do not want to ask anyone else to change, but you do want to make sure you voice your wants as clearly as possible.

Step 3: Never Apologize

Your boundaries are important, and one of the reasons people compromise their boundaries is feeling guilty when they make a request. You want to learn to ask for what you want without letting guilt get in the way. Remember: you deserve it, and you are the one in control!

Step 4: Do Not HaveExpectations

Expectations can cause you to feel down, and they often build up hope for something that may not happen. When you ask someone for something you want, you should do so without becoming too attached to the outcome. If you expect someone else to handle your wants and needs for you, you are setting yourself up for disappointment later on.

Step 5: If the Answer Is No, That Means No

While it would be nice to hear the word “yes”every timeyou ask for something, it does not always happen. You will not always get exactly what you want. When it comes to healthy boundaries in a relationship, the goal is to ask for what you want clearly rather than to simply receive a "yes" answer. If someone says no to your request, you need to respect their boundaries and accept that the answer isno.

Wondering How To Start Setting Healthy Boundaries?

When people struggle to set healthy boundaries, the problem can often be traced back to their family of origin. Therefore, family systems therapy can be helpful in helping individuals learn to distinguish their own wants, needs, and sense of self from those of others. Family systems therapy is usually used to treat entire families. 

The Benefits of Online Therapy

As discussed above, therapy can be an effective way to work on setting healthier boundaries. But with today’s busy schedules, it can be difficult to find the time to attend in-person therapy. This is where online therapy comes in. In addition, online therapy offers lower pricing than in-person therapy because online therapists don’t have to pay for costs like renting an office.BetterHelp’s licensed therapists have helped people set healthier boundaries. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“Just starting my council sessions with Dr Foote. So far, the sessions have been helpful, and productive. She is very insightful, and professional. I would recommend her to anyone needing help managing the boundaries of their relationships.”

“Dr. Perez had helped me build up my communication skills with friends and family while also drawing healthy boundaries and working through my hectic emotions. I feel like I can set goals and actually stick to them now, and the bad days are easier for.me to manage.”

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