Setting your boundaries

Photo by Kevin Butz on Unsplash

As I am typing this story, I am learning how to set my terms in a more efficient way in friendships and connections. I am still on my journey to figure out better communication and how to claim our needs and believe in them.

I am here to share some of the tips I have found useful in expressing my needs clearly and how to have the courage to stand up and say “no” in moments when even your body tells you that something is not right for you.

But first, how do we spot that our boundaries have been violated?

We start feeling:

  1. Uncomfortable
  2. Misunderstood
  3. Unheard
  4. We block phisically and emotionally

I remember going to my therapist and telling her that “I block” in some situations and I don’t know why I do so. I asked her: “Did I become anti social?”, “Why do I bock in most moments when I am around a person?” — and I will never forget her logic:

“Hanna, have you ever had a moment when you felt great in social situations?”

Me: “Yes! I had moments when I was the life of the party in university!”

Her: “Then the problem is not with you :) You don’t feel at your ease in those moments and your body tells you that you will be misunderstood if you show your true self, or your boundaries have been violated”

Me:*internally* — wow. just wow.

So this conversation made me realise years of silence on my behalf when it comes to my needs and my boundaries. I could bravely say that up to that moment I had no clue what were my boundaries. What was even “a boundary”??

So I started digging deeper in the moments when I felt uncomfortable in my life in social interactions and I followed this framework by answering the following questions:

  1. When did I feel uncomfortable next to someone? When did I feel the “block”?
  2. What made me feel that way? The people, the conversation?
  3. Did I know what to contribute to the conversation? If no, why not?
  4. Did I block? What made me block?

And slowly by answering these questions I realised so many aspects which made me uncomfortable in various moments which I didn’t dare admit that my comfort boundaries have been violated.

For example — I block the most the moment when someone shouts at me with their whole lungs, blames me like a frantic wild animal and takes 0 responsability for their feelings. In such moments I block and my instant reaction is to run away as fast as I can.

So I started practicing the questions above and I realised one of my biggest boundaries:

  1. I don’t want to be shouted at. I don’t want to live my life being someone’s box sack.

Once I realised what this boundary was, I could state my needs that I do not accept being in a relationship with someone who shouts at me and guess what? Natural selection happened.

I broke up with the person who always exerted their anger at the closest person to them. For me, it was a no-go to live with someone who shouts and is verbally violent and for them it was a no-go to change their behaviour. Win-win! Boundaries fucking win!

I know, when we hear the first time about boundaries, it is very hard to even locate one. But I’m here to help!

I read Christine Chang’s book a while ago, with the title Show Up, Finding love for independent women and she had a fantastic framework for defining one’s boundary:

What is a definite NO for me in a relationship?

For me personally, my definite NOs:

  • Verbal or phisical violence
  • Blaming others for their actions
  • No accountability
  • Childish mindset
  • More distance in a relationship than closeness
  • Not wishing to work on his personal problems and denying all

What is a negotiable behaviour?

My personals:

  • Anxiety — I have been there so I know how I can help :)
  • Smoking
  • Corporate job (I’m a freelancer so a common lifestyle matters in a way)

By defining what are your non-negotiable, under each there is a boundary which defines your limits.

Bear in mind that these boundaries can vary across time and as you grow up, as you mature you discover new ones too! Let your mind open for new learning opportunities :)

Just to set the record straight, by going up to your partner/ friend and blaming them/accusing them of treating you in a certain way and asking them to “change their behaviour” because “ONLY THEN” you will be truly happy — trust me.

You will never be happy even if they act in the way you wanted.

BONUS: in that case, they’re noit genuine with you. Why? Because you asked them to do 1 thing for you as a mini-blackmail.

Did you ever enjoy doing something as a clause in a blackmail from someone else? Got ya.

  • If you X, only then I will Y (manipulation)
  • If you love me, do X (manipulation)
  • You don’t love me because you don’t X (manipulation)
  • You don’t love me anymore because …(manipulation)
  • It’s you fault that I feel this way (manipulation)
  • Why do you have to make so much drama? (gaslighting)

Yeap. Experienced all above. It is hard to spot gaslighting & manipulation until it fully breaks you. Then you stand up, leave the fucking relationship and grow.

  • When you act in X way, I feel Y — it reminds me of Z, so I would really appreciate if you could respect this boundary.
  • It makes me feel W when you tell me…
  • XYZ is not for me. I would rather do ABC.

Taking the focus of you pain/boundary from your partner and placing it on HOW YOU FEEL, encourages introspection and clearly sets your OWN boundary which the person next to you chooses to respect or not.

Then you will know if the person next to you is the right one for you or not.

As the fantastic Esther Perel once said: there is no healthy relationship without boundaries.



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