Kind Boundaries

“A gentle “no” reminds others that you are valuable and models self-care.”

When we set boundaries

  • At first, we may lash out and be reactive.
  • We may apologize and feel guilty.
  • We need to get to know ourselves to understand our lines.
  • Setting kind boundaries gives people a chance to get to know us better.

Brick wall with broken bricks

Stages of Boundary Setting

When you first start to set boundaries…

As you learn about what you are willing to put up with in life, you learn to set limits on those around you. Young people (around middle school) are a great example of early boundary setting; called reactive boundaries. This usually looks like a bit of confusion, lashing out, and even physical fighting. 

Adults who are learning to set boundaries usually do it with a similar, reactive, style, though there is often not as much physical violence. In the case of adults, we can also lash out and say harsh things to set limits on others. For example, Julie is tired of their in-laws making comments as to how they are raising their kids. Julie explodes one day over family dinner and yells at their in-laws. 

With modern culture allowing us to cut people out of our lives, rather than forcing us to stay in groups for survival, this has become one popular way to set a boundary. Cutting people out might be a matter of mental safety or even physical survival, but it can also be an over-reaction.

People shaking hands

© An even smaller heading.

Boundaries feel awkward to start

Setting boundaries can make us feel guilty. This is why we lash out. We feel selfish and have been told that saying no or setting limits on others is mean.

When you think about how others react to saying no, it can be hard. You can tell that maybe you are hurting their feelings. Often times people set boundaries with an apology, like, “I can’t go out with you this weekend, I’m sorry, I just have some other plans.”

Many people are exploring boundaries in our time and tell relatable stories to how hard it is to live with and without boundaries. Glennon Doyle discusses boundaries often in her podcast “We can Do Hard Things.”

The key with you boundaries, is getting to know yourself. You need to understand what you can and cannot tolerate and communicate that to the world.

Sometimes the kindest thing you can say to someone is “no”

While getting to know yourself and the lines you are not allowing others to cross with you, you have to mentally move into a place where you can set boundaries without apologizing, lashing out, or feeling guilt. 

Thinking about boundaries in a variety of ways can help your mind calmly notice when you need them. This will help you communicate with respect for yourself and others. 

One of the biggest things to remember is that you are teaching someone how to respect you. Saying no or setting a limit is actually doing them a favor. It prevents you from feeling resentful down the road and gives them an opportunity to get to know you better. A gentle “no” reminds others that you are valuable and models self-care.

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