How do you maintain healthy boundaries?

There’s an old saying “pick your fights”. The difficult part is knowing which flights to pick to maintain healthy boundaries.

Boundaries are essential to living a healthy emotional and even physical life. Setting and maintaining boundaries are a real skill, one that many of us struggle to acquire. This can include staying in an unhealthy or abusive relationship or absorbing the negativity of others (family members, partners or colleagues.) How many of us have felt under siege from battery of criticism or being unable to shut out gaslighters. Many of us settle for less in jobs we hate or fail to close get closure on difficult issues with people in our lives. And perhaps most importantly, we are unable to articulate our needs, which can all lead to dissatisfaction and even mental and physical health issues as we internalise the burden.

This is especially true for women who are raised to be and play “nice” and to avoid conflict. It makes them sitting targets to be put upon when they fail to draw lines in the sand.

Here are some tips to maintain healthy boundaries

1. Become self-aware

When you go through the self-reflection process you may want to consider if there were any drivers in your history that causes you to behave in a certain way. Many girls are raised to be supportive and to put their own needs second to others, especially in romantic relationships. They key question is whether this support is one-sided. If you feel put on, it generally is.

If you find yourself regularly feeling a sense of injustice, resentment or even outrage, then it’s a signal that you need to step back and reflect. Dig deep and examine your reaction and try to pin point the exact emotion. Could it be anger, a feeling of being taken advantage of, unfairness or jealousy. If it’s any of these it could be because you need to maintain healthy boundaries.

The 3Plus Career Reflection Work Sheets can go some way to guide your thinking if the stress is work related.

2. Understand and set your limits.

You can’t set and maintain healthy boundaries if you don’t know what your limits are. You need to understand well what you stand for and what you are against. What are you willing to compromise on and where are your deal breakers and those lines in the sand?

This can be around physical limits – not even related to physical abuse, but unwanted touching or feeling your personal space invaded, emotional abuse (withholding, gaslighting or power playing) and even intellectual abuse – having your ideas ridiculed or downplayed.

maintain healthy boundaries

3. Commit to being assertive

Being unable to maintain healthy boundaries can be rooted in fear. Fear of not being liked or loved or that there will be negative consequences to asserting your real opinion. Some might think it’s their place to be everyone’s beck and call girl. Perhaps they don’t deserve more. Giving yourself permission to put your own needs first and being assertive is critical to get out of this rut.

4. Self-advocate

Knowing what your limits are is not enough. You have to follow through. You can do this in a constructive way:

  • “I feel disrespected when you speak to me in way. Going forward I want you to be more courteous.”
  • “I feel uncomfortable when you touch me on the leg. Going forward I want you so stop doing that.”

 You can do this in a direct yet non-conflictual way.

Join our next FREE live and online coaching: How to step-up, speak up and self-advocate on Thursday 27th February 12:00 GMT 13:00 CET (07:00 EDT)

5. Commit to self-care

Putting yourself first is not about being selfish and self-absorbed. If you take good care of your own well-being you will build up the inner reserves to make the changes you need to. You can emerge from this process energised and in a better place to offer the right kinds of support to family members, kids and partners, friends, co-workers or even your boss.

6. Enlist help

If you are really struggling it could be a good idea to get some support. Whether this is from good friends who can be objective, an online or physical network or a mentor or a coach. If your mental and physical well-being feels threatened, now is the time to reach out and get some neutral input. If you don’t, you can’t move forward.

Note: If you are physically at risk you should definitely seek legal and professional advice.

Contact 3Plus International if you need coaching or advice on workplace boundaries



3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Leadership and Competence Building or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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