Posted by: Rachel Cates | June 25, 2009

Creating Boundaries


“Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasures.   Edwin Louis Cole

Boundaries help to keep us safe from harm.   Creating and communicating boundaries is an important part of taking care of yourself.  Setting boundaries empowers you to take control of your life and demand respect from others. 

When you establish boundaries you are making a unique statement about who you are and what behavior you will or will not accept.   

People come from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds.   Lifestyles, interests and opinions are as multifaceted as clouds in the sky.  Actions that may be considered humorous to some people may easily be offensive to others.  For that reason, it is important to find the language to express how you feel so that others will know where you stand.   When you clearly communicate your boundaries, you give people the opportunity to correct their behavior and preserve the relationship. 

How do you create boundaries? 

Learning to set boundaries is vital to learning to love yourself and to show others that you have self worth. 

Here are steps you can take to create boundaries:

Step 1 – “I Feel …. (Express how the unwanted behavior is making you feel honestly and without blame.)

Step 2 – I want… (Describe in detail the kind of behavior that you want from the other person.)

Step 3 – If you…(Describe the behavior you find unacceptable.)

Step 4 – I will … (Describe what action you will take to protect yourself.)

Step 5 – If This behavior continues… (Know what steps you will take if the behavior continues.  You don’t need to reveal these steps. )

Here are examples: 

“John, I feel uncomfortable and disrespected when you are late for our events.   I want you to be on time for all of our appointments or at the very least call and let me know if you are running late so I can make alternative arrangements.   If you continue to be late I will not invite you out anymore.”    

 “Cynthia, I feel angry and unappreciated when you yell at me and complain constantly.   I want you to speak to me in a calm voice and acknowledge my efforts in this relationship by say “thank you” when I do something nice for you.  If you continue to yell and complain I will take the necessary steps to protect myself including exploring the option of leaving the relationship. ”

If you aren’t clear on your boundaries, start by paying attention to how you feel when you interact with others.   If at any time you feel angry, sad, embarrassed, or any other negative emotions,  then that is an indication that a boundary may have been violated.   

Write down how you felt, what happened to make you feel that way, and decide how you will protect yourself going forward.  That way, if that situation ever happens again, you will know immediately that a boundary has been crossed and you will have the language to express yourself confidently to others.

Like anything else, it will get easier with practice.  If you need more assistance find a life coach to help you develop the skills and courage to build strong boundaries. 

Remember, you have to take care of yourself first before you can take on the world. 

Always my best,

Rachel Cates, CLC


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