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Uphold Your Boundaries for Greater Self-Worth

by Linda-Ann Stewart



traffic light to signal limits and boundaries


When I was a child, I didn't agree with the phrase, "Give them an inch, and they'll take a mile," when referring to how people treat you. I believed that people were kind and would treat others the way they'd want to be treated. As an adult, I learned this wasn't always true. I've encountered many people who tried to take advantage of, or dominate, me.

Originally, I'd explain my boundaries because I expected my limits to be respected. But over and over again, people ignored my limits and steamrolled over them. As I became older and wiser, I realized that the phrase should often be, "Give them a millimeter and they'll take your soul."

Boundaries vs. Barriers

There's a difference between boundaries and barriers. Barriers are walls based on fear of getting hurt, getting too close, or being exploited. Barriers are designed to keep people away. These barricades were probably developed because of painful experiences you had in the past. Unfortunately, barriers don't just keep others out. They imprison you and prevent you from having your best life.

Boundaries are the limits you set on the kind of treatment you'll allow from another person. This person can be someone you know socially, personally or professionally. These limits define where you leave off and the other person begins. You have your values and rights, and they have theirs. They're not entitled to impose on you or vice versa.

Your boundaries are a function of your sense of self-worth, values and self-respect. If you lack these, then you may be allowing people to demean or abuse you. Boundaries are established from a position of strength, assurance, and self-value. They ensure that your rights are respected when people get close to you. They install a sense of safety for you, as well as for the other person. They know where your lines are drawn, and that they must respect them or suffer the consequences.

How to Establish Boundaries

It's not easy to set and keep boundaries. There are some people who will continue to push against your boundaries to test them, no matter what you say. Others will honor them. But it's your responsibility to make sure your limits are upheld by the following:

Decide what you'll tolerate. It's best to make this determination before the situation arises. Will you allow someone to tease you unmercifully if they're a family member? What if they're a boss or a client? Figure out the characteristics of good and bad clients, coworkers, and friends. A signal that a boundary has been breached is if you feel uncomfortable with certain interactions. As much as possible, avoid those who continually violate your boundaries.

Stand up for your rights. You have a right to be treated with dignity. Learn to say, "No," or "Enough," to those who are uncivil, discourteous or rude. Most people are simply trying to get their needs met. The ones who take advantage are simply trying to get their needs met at your expense. Realize their behavior isn't yours to fix. It's their problem and only they can change it. They may not choose to because it's been getting them what they want.

Consequences. How will you handle behavior that goes past your limit? You can't change other people. But you can insist that they treat you the way you want. If they don't, then decide ahead of time what the consequences will be if they don't. What are you willing to do? Actions speak louder than words. Don't use a repercussion as an empty threat or manipulation. Both will fail. Instead, state the potential result if they disregard your boundary again, and if they do it anyway, take follow through on your warning. If they refuse to respect you, it's appropriate to close the door on any future interaction with them.

The Result of Establishing Boundaries

Eventually, the people who tried to intimidate me left my life, either through their choice or mine. It's not easy to establish and maintain boundaries, but it's certainly better than letting people abuse you. When you set boundaries, you train people how you expect to be treated. People will respect you more, disappear or you'll let them go, depending on the situation. By standing up for yourself, you're building self-confidence, authenticity and courage. And best of all, you will retain your soul.

Copyright © 2009-2022 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

As a focus coach, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, freedom, wellbeing and prosperity. Watch her FREE training video on Set Your Course to Success: 4 steps to strategically achieve your goals with confidence and ease. Register for the video and accompanying action planning guide at www.SetYourCourseGuide.com. You can contact her at LAS@Linda-AnnStewart.com or 928-600-0452.

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