How to Set Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

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Setting Boundaries

In the closing chapter of Boundaries, Cloud and Townsend give eleven steps to measure your success with boundaries. I will paraphrase, including my personal thoughts, the ways you can know you are succeeding in setting boundaries.   There is no quick fix when establishing healthy boundaries in your life. Patience with yourself and others is required. Each of the steps could be a lifelong struggle for you. Take your time and be gentle with yourself.

Step #1: Resentment is an early sign that your boundary is being violated. If you find that you are complying to others and resenting it afterwards, it’s likely someone is overstepping one of your boundaries. It is said that, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” If you do something for someone, expecting them to return the favor, and when they don’t you get upset, think before doing it again. You have a choice not to allow others to use you.

Step #2: Another sign you are getting healthy is that you are drawn to other boundary-lovers. You no longer feel comfortable with boundary abusers. You’ve changed who you hang around with and you now have friends who respect your boundaries.

Step #3: You have a family or community of friends with whom you associate who are supportive and trustworthy. They respect you. You can continue to learn to set boundaries in this safe place.

Step #4: Now you take responsibility for yourself. You realize that the problems and issues of other adults is not your responsibility. You treasure and respect yourself. You treat yourself like the treasure that you are in God’s sight.

Step #5: As you continue to grow in boundary setting you practice by slowly setting more boundaries with safe people.

Step #6: Sometimes you feel guilty when you’ve set a new boundary. This is a sign you are getting healthier. Rejoice in the guilt. This indicates that you are growing stronger as a boundaried person.

Step #7: Some situations are serious, grown-up, issues and require “Grown-up No’s.” There are times when you must detach and establish a boundary for protection. It may be emotional or physical protection. Never hesitate when you know this is the case. If it seems impossible get the help you need from a woman’s shelter or counselor. When you can’t do this alone ask someone to help you.

Step #8: Someday you will notice a difference. You no longer feel guilty after setting a boundary. You are comfortable with your “No.” Even when the other person resists your boundary, you don’t flinch.

Step #9: In the process you have also developed a healthy respect for the boundaries of others. You will have a genuine love for them. You will have empathy for them. And you will not feel a need to change them.

Step #10: When you are unsure you do not say, “Yes.” You have the freedom to think about it or consider it and get back to them. You do not have a sense of urgency or that you must say “Yes” in order to please or keep the peace.

Step #11: Now you are in control of your own choices. You are free to “protect, nurture, and develop the life God has given you stewardship over.”

For more about Boundaries

There are numerous other “Boundaries” posts on this site. Search and read.

I am a Certified Professional Coach and I hold a degree from Lamar University in Speech and a Master’s from the University of Texas. I married Sam after raising three children as a single mother. I was an educator in regular and special education for twenty years, finishing my professional career as a Braille teacher. In 2007 I founded SMORE for Women. SMORE is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, and Empowered. My stories have been published in several books and magazines. My Website.

Gail smiling in purple suit
Gail Cawley Showalter

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