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Issue 17 Out Now

The Beginners’ Guide to Setting & Enforcing Boundaries: What to Expect

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If you are reading this article, chances are you are new to setting and enforcing boundaries. Boundaries are the foundation for happy, healthy relationships and a form of self-care. Having them means honoring yourself as an individual, prioritizing what you want/need over what others want/need from you.

Your newness to boundaries likely means you are prone to giving to others, be it with your time, resources, energy, love, etc., most often quite generously. You may find others drawn to you because of your generous nature. However, you may also wrestle with feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment upon realizing you have given and others have taken well beyond your comfort and capacity.

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If this sounds like you, then you have come to the right place. I am also naturally benevolent, so setting and enforcing boundaries did not come easily. There are a few things I did not expect after asserting my boundaries early on that could have saved me a ton of anxiety, confusion, and heartache had I known what to expect. However, now that I know, the best I can do for my fellow givers is pass along what you might expect when you begin asserting your boundaries. And in this article, I will be sharing these insights with you.

Here are a few things to expect when you begin setting and enforcing boundaries.

  1. Prepare for Backlash.

Because boundaries denote the limits you are willing to give to others, some people might not share your appreciation for your new habit asserting them. They will especially not appreciate them if the only relationship they have known with you has been without them. In this case, It might take some time for everyone to adjust to their presence in the relationship. However, it is also likely that you will, in that time, experience backlash.

Image via TheHealthy

This backlash may include feelings of anger, frustration, and resentment from others. These feelings can be particularly difficult for someone empathetic. However, you must honor the experience that led you to the wisdom behind boundaries. Boundaries protect you from repeating those experiences, and their response to you asserting them is not your responsibility. You are.

2. Prepare to have your Boundaries Tested.

Soon after exacting your boundaries, you will likely experience others testing them. You can expect this early on when others know or detect your discomfort with setting them. They do this to gauge how serious you are about them and your ability to enforce them. Testing can be incredibly frustrating, especially for a boundary freshman.

When this happens, you must hold your ground. Double down on your boundaries and let them know you mean business and that the defense is strong with this one.

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Losing ground early on can result in even more testing down the line. So you must hold your ground and withstand the initial discomfort to ensure smoother sailing later.

3. Prepare to Lose People.

While it may take time for some people to get used to you setting and enforcing boundaries, others might never respect them. In this case, be prepared to lose people. Losing someone can mean restricting or completely taking away access someone has to you physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, etc. The loss can be painful if they are family or friends, someone you care about, or someone you have known for a long time. And while there will be some relationships that warrant more time, patience, and grace, there may come a time when you extend beyond your limits and may have to put distance between you and them as well.

Image via TheHealthy

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to boundaries you should follow within all your relationships because different relationships require different things. However, it is necessary to keep in mind consequences are as much a part of enforcing your boundaries as setting them. And just as you must hold your ground when others test you, so must you enforce the consequences when your boundaries are not respected.

4. Prepare for Discomfort/Guilt.

In addition to preparing for external responses to setting boundaries, one of the biggest challenges you will likely face will be internal: Your discomfort and guilt.

Most people that find themselves studying and reading about boundaries tend to be some of the most kind-hearted, generous, giving people. They have learned that as long as they keep on giving without limits, others will continue taking with disregard for their approaching emptiness. They recognize that it is their responsibility to keep themselves from approaching E and others from taking advantage of them.

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But that does not stop them from caring, and because of this, setting boundaries can be uncomfortable and accompanied by guilt. It can be difficult restricting yourself from people you care about and uncomfortable watching them struggle without you. But, growth tends to be uncomfortable. Try not to feel guilty as you know you are doing what is best for both of you. Since not setting boundaries can result in your depletion and subsequent resentment of them in the long run.

Like anything new, setting and enforcing boundaries takes time, and just as you would graciously extend grace and patience to others, you should offer the same grace to yourself throughout this process.

Image via Shape

So those are a few things to expect when you begin setting and enforcing boundaries.

What about you? What has been your experience setting boundaries? Can you think of any other things others should expect? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or via social media with the hashtag #BlakLotus. We love to hear from you!

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