The relationships we build in our lives affect the way we feel towards ourselves, the way we see the world, and the way we deal with our emotions. Having strong, healthy relationships is the key to improve our lives, and to understand who we really are. In order to make relationships work, we have to set boundaries, no matter if we’re considering the relationship we have with our lover or the one we have with a toxic person. Boundaries are what makes it possible for you to get the best out of every relationship, to feel respected, loved and wanted, and to spend time doing what you love. Boundaries are our borders, they help us define who we are and what we want. The question is: how do we set healthy ones? How can we manage to stay away from a loved one for a bit, or not to get a call from our mother during a meeting?
I’ve found ten key steps to take in order to set healthy boundaries in our lives and improve the quality of our relationships. Keep reading to find the out:
- Ask yourself what you want from every relationship you have in your life. Is it love you want? A deep friendship? Help with your work? Someone you can share ideas with? Every answer is fine, be honest with yourself.
- Ask yourself why you want it. Do you feel alone, and therefore are looking for a partner? Consider working on yourself before getting out there and possibly hurt someone’s feelings. Is it more space you want from your parents, because you feel suffocated? What exactly would you want to change?
- Focus on how to get what you want. If it’s love or friendship you want, be clear about your intentions. People are going to appreciate it, and nobody will get hurt. If it’s help with your work you want, don’t pretend to be looking for a friendship. Arrange meetings and appointments to get to know each other, but don’t make them look like you’re having dinner together with any other interest than work.
- Try to understand what other people are looking for. I know you’ve heard you should always put yourself first: nothing more right than that, but remember that there are two people in every relationship, you can’t expect it to work if you don’t find a good compromise with people and try to understand their needs.
- Give yourself permission to refuse something. If you don’t feel comfortable with what someone else wants, say it. You have the right to define your relationships, and decide how much to get involved.
- Analyze people’s behaviour and avoid what you consider toxic for your energy. A good example is a toxic relationship with your parents. If you feel like shit every time you see them, then maybe it’s time for you to show up less at their house and focus on something that makes you feel better.
- Set visible limits. If you find it particularly hard to deal with a person you cannot avoid, let them know when, where and for how long you’re going to see them. Tell them you’re busy if they call, or simply avoid answering. You don’t have to force yourself into something you don’t feel comfortable with.
- Consider your behaviour. At times, we are the toxic person. If you see that someone avoids your presence or doesn’t answer your calls, consider asking them what’s wrong with the relationship you have, if you think you two know each other enough. If you don’t, try calling less and not forcing them into seeing you too much.
- Find new hobbies and activities. If you are the toxic person, or the one who always looks for the other, consider finding a new hobby. In this way, you’ll meet new people, learn new skills, get to know your own self better and let other people breathe. On the other side, if you feel uncomfortable with a relationship, keeping yourself busy will make it harder for them to reach you. By the way, remember that finding new occupations is not the key to better an unhealthy relationship, and, firstly, you should point it out.
- Seek help. No matter if you’re the toxic one or the uncomfortable one, talking to a therapist about your relationship will surely help. At times, we cannot solve our problems by ourselves, and talking to someone qualified about them is the most important step we can take.
Did you find the article useful? Do you have other suggestions? Experiences to share? Feel free to write them in the comments below!