“You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.” ~Unknown

Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and a heathy life. I learned about boundary work when I was going through an intense program called “Trauma Recovery Therapy.”

I was overwrought by depression, anxiety, self-loathing, and suicidal thoughts. In those darkest moments, I decided that I wanted to live, so I was willing to do whatever it took to heal my emotions.

In “Trauma Recovery Therapy” one of the major things I learned was how and why to set boundaries. It was the most eye-opening, therapeutic thing that I had ever done.

It was life-saving for me and set the wheels rolling on my journey to self-love and living my life today of personal freedom and empowerment. So today, I would like to share some of the most crucial steps to help you get started on your own journey.

Below are insights into building better boundaries and maintaining them.

1. Identify your boundaries.

Consider your likes and dislikes. Think about what behaviors, attitudes, and experiences make you uncomfortable. You may have difficulty tolerating your spouse calling you names, or feel disgusted when strangers talk about sexual encounters. Having a clear understanding of your personal boundaries will enable you to clearly and firmly set them and recognize when they are being violated.

2. Communicate Your Boundaries Assertively

When setting boundaries, do so in a clear and direct manner. Identify the boundary issue, using ‘I’ statements, and own your feelings regarding it. For example, you might say, “Please knock on my door before entering. I feel violated when my privacy is disrespected,” or, “Please be on time because I feel disrespected when you show up later than planned.” You are not obligated to apologize or explain yourself further.

3. Plan a Response to Boundary Violations

You might reiterate your boundaries and acknowledge that your limits have not been respected. Inform the offender of the consequences of further disregard. Try saying, “I told you that I expect you to knock on my door before entering, and you did not respect my wishes. If this happens again, I won’t allow you to come to my home.”

4. Be Prepared to Follow Through

Maintain a firm stance regarding your boundaries, and plan to follow through with your stated consequences. If they enter without knocking again, distance yourself from the offender. Failure to follow through sends others the message that they can easily take advantage of you. If others do not respect your boundaries or even take them seriously, you may begin to believe that your feelings, needs, and desires are insignificant, unimportant, and meaningless.

Boundaries are all about respect for yourself. You must be ready to make tough choices to change your lifestyle. Guilt is the most common obstacle to taking care of yourself. You will feel guilty by making yourself a priority. To overcome guilt, face it head-on. See it as a sign that you are on the right track.

Tell people your priorities have changed and that you are taking care of your needs. If you feel your own resistance to focusing on yourself, remember, when you put yourself first, you are then fully available to others without resentment or anger.

When you start making yourself a priority, you may feel uncomfortable and uncaring. Stay with it and find support from women who are doing the same.