Setting Boundaries [5-Step Framework]
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 7.75
Written by: Ben Meer | January 15, 2023
Underrated skill: Standing up for yourself without getting emotionally worked up. Use this 5-step framework to set boundaries.
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Most people fall into one of two camps:
- They let others violate their boundaries because they haven't communicated them.
- They get emotionally worked up, communicate their boundaries, but stay negatively charged for hours.
Standing up for yourself is crucial.
So is not getting emotionally worked up.
What if you could do both?
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Being angry is hard work (and wildly inefficient).
While boundary setting may feel intimidating, it's easier than letting anger and resentment consume you.
Here we go, 5 steps to set boundaries…
Step 1: Build Self-Worth with Affirmations
You are worthy of being stood up for.
But to take action, YOU must first believe it too.
Use affirmations to build your confidence.
These've helped me:
- I choose relationships that amplify my life.
- I have loving people in my life.
- I have positive people in my life.
- I have kind people in my life.
- I am treated with care and respect by others.
Step 2: Define Your Boundaries
Get clear about what you don't accept.
Define your boundaries based on past experiences—and add new ones as they arise.
Here are some ideas (create your own):
- I don't allow others to curse at me.
- I expect my housemates to clean up after themselves.
- I don't allow my employer to regularly make me work on weekends and sacrifice time with my family.
Step 3: Observe Your Emotions
Normalize standing up for yourself without getting emotionally worked up.
Start observing emotions as they arise. Stop letting negative emotions consume you.
It's the difference between crossing a placid stream now or raging rapids in 60 seconds.
How to observe your emotions:
- Build the skill of observation through meditation and journaling.
- In a triggering moment, separate yourself from your emotion.
- Instead, ask: What is this emotion trying to tell me?
(Emotions are often messages to take action.)
Step 4: Communicate Your Boundaries
Below is a boundary-setting template.
While there's no one-size-fits-all to conflict management, use this framework to help guide your approach:
- Ask: “Is now a bad time?”
- When you _____, I felt _____.
- I have a personal rule where I only allow/don't allow _____.
- If you keep doing _____, I will have to _____.
- I hope we can make this work and continue to _____.
Here are a few more tips I've found helpful for communicating boundaries:
- Be hard on the problem, soft on the person.
- Be clear and direct about what you expect.
- Stay open to compromise while still maintaining your boundaries.
- Consider telling a trusted 3rd party for support & accountability.
Step 5: Enforce Your Boundaries
In life, you always have 3 options:
Change it, leave it, or accept it.
You've tried changing the situation (with a boundary-setting convo).
Now you can either:
- Leave the relationship
- Accept boundary violations
No adult-to-adult relationship is worth sacrificing your self-worth IMO.
BRINGING IT HOME
TL;DR Boundary-Setting Framework:
- Build your self-worth with affirmations
- Define your boundaries
- Observe your emotions
- Communicate your boundaries
- Enforce your boundaries
There you have it—5 steps to set boundaries.
It may be easier said than done.
But staying angry and having your boundaries violated is the hardest of all.
Know this: You are worthy of being stood up for.
Today, in 2023, always.
All systems go,
P.S. If you enjoy System Sunday, you'll love my friend Sahil Bloom's newsletter—The Curiosity Chronicle. He focuses on actionable, tactical insights you can use to make 2023 amazing. Check it out here.
This newsletter assumes that you're dealing with law-abiding people.
If your safety is in danger, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or local authorities.