Establishing personal boundaries is essential to achieving personal happiness and success. If we allow other people to dictate what, when, or how we do something, or which of our values or priorities are important, or what kind of behavior we tolerate, we start to lose our sense of self. This can lead to depression, resentment, discontentment, and feelings of worthlessness.
Each of us is responsible for facilitating optimal circumstances for our own personal success.
There will always be roadblocks that cause setbacks or interruptions, but for the most part, we can facilitate happiness on our own terms by determining our priorities and establishing and enforcing the right boundaries.
People will not always willingly respect your boundaries, which means it’s your responsibility to ensure that what’s important to you is protected. You cannot rely on other people to create the right circumstances for your ideal happiness.
What do boundaries look like?
Setting your own personal boundaries will be a trial and error process. We often don’t know what to prioritize because of the outside influences that tell us what’s important: financial success, an established career, media attention, a nice car, a social media profile full of travel photos.
In an effort to meet society’s standard of validate-able and worthy, we lose our own personal priorities.
In order to establish healthy boundaries, you have to first look at your life and make decisions about what’s important to you. You cannot have it all, you can only have some. So what will it be? Do you want to be a single bachelor that travels the world? A serial entrepreneur with seven children? Choose your path and find out how to get there.
When you figure out the steps to take in order to achieve personal happiness and success, you have to protect yourself from distractions and from the infringement of others.
This is where boundaries come in. If you’re working on your side hustle and want to become the world’s most successful entrepreneur, and you’ve established 8pm to 10 pm as your time, to work on your goal, you’re responsible for enforcing the boundary related to protecting those hours.
You can ask people to respect it, you can remind people of it, you can even get angry at people when they violate your boundaries, but the enforcement and protection of the boundary you’ve established are entirely up to you.
You have control over how and when your boundaries are enforced.
How to Establish Your Own Boundaries
Your priorities help you establish your personal boundaries. If you want to create boundaries with the expectation that they’ll be followed, you have to first communicate them properly. This means letting people know that you’re serious about your goals and personal achievements so you have certain expectations.
Creating expectations does not mean you can control anyone else’s behavior.
Oftentimes, people forget about your established boundaries or they simply think they have an exceptional circumstance or special relationship that excludes them from respecting your priorities.
It will take reminding and enforcing to ensure people are not able to infringe on your goal achievements.
Beyond communication, there is enforcement. Once you’ve established what you want your boundaries to be, you have to know how you will communicate and enforce them.
When people don’t voluntarily respect your boundaries, you have to have an enforcement process in place.
For example, if you’re trying to write that novel but your husband and children keep interrupting you with questions, it’s your job to either change your location or find a way to remove access to you from your family.
There are plenty of reasons we feel that we need to make ourselves accessible to the people we care about and we worry that taking even an hour or two to ourselves will create a problem, but acknowledging your self-worth is about knowing that you deserve your own undivided attention sometimes, just as much as your family.
There is time for you, and there is time for them. Other people’s expectations or violation of our boundaries can negatively impact our self-worth. When we prioritize what someone else wants or thinks over what we’ve determined to be important or valuable, we allow a violation of the boundaries we’ve established.
Why Nobody Respects Them
When you fail to implement enforcement of your boundaries, they become preferences. You may prefer to be left alone between 8pm and 10pm, but if your husband can’t find the clean towels or your dog is waiting to go out and nobody else is running to the door to take him, and you make yourself available, you no longer have established boundaries.
The most important aspect of having personal boundaries is having a plan to enforce them. This can apply to personal achievements, like building a business, writing a book, or improving your health. It can also apply to relationships and interactions. If you have a boss who is condescending and hurtful, it’s your job to remove yourself from that situation. You must enforce your personal boundaries of decency and respect.
There are of course options to go to HR or to a higher boss, but ultimately, you cannot control your boss’s behavior. If they continue to treat you in a way that is not acceptable to you, you will have to make the hard choice to leave the job or dissolve your boundary.
If you’ve discovered your significant other is having an inappropriate relationship with a coworker, you can communicate your boundaries and criteria for a happy and healthy relationship, but if your partner continues to violate your boundaries, you will have to make the difficult decision to leave.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who is refusing to respect your boundaries, it’s your responsibility to walk away from that relationship.
When you dissolve your boundary or ignore it, bitterness seeps in. You may feel entitled to keep your job — after all, you’re not the problem — or you may believe your partner’s good qualities outweigh their disrespect of you — but boundaries do not lend themselves to fairness.
The ultimate goal in establishing boundaries is not for you to keep one job or one partner, it’s to find your own ultimate happiness through acknowledgment of your worth.
Boundaries Are Tied to Your Self-Worth
Failing to establish boundaries in regards to treatment or expectations is a reflection of how you value yourself and the priorities you’ve set. You can determine your priorities, but if you feel that establishing and enforcing your boundaries regarding those priorities is burdensome to others, you will prioritize their comfort over your own long-term comfort, success, and happiness.
It’s natural to want others to be happy around you, but when that violates your own priorities, expectations, or feelings, it will negatively impact your self-value and self-worth.
We are our own most vital advocates, we must focus on facilitating our own happiness through identifying our priorities, establishing our boundaries, and learning to enforce them in healthy and productive ways.
Determining yourself to be worthy means you treat yourself in a respectful and gracious manner, expecting the same from anyone else around you.
If you want your boundaries to be respected, you have to be willing to enforce them, no matter how difficult it may be.