Boundaries are important because they let people know how we want to be treated. They let people know what behavior is and isn't acceptable.

If you think boundaries aren’t important – you may need to rethink your take on the subject.

Let’s have a closer look.

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If you have family dropping in at all hours unannounced, your ex-partner calling drunk at 2 am or a friend constantly bailing on plans – you are most likely having boundaries crossed.

People often see boundaries as boring rules. Having boundaries is not about living by a strict set of rules.

It’s about being clear to people how you expect to be treated and how you will treat them with respect in return.

Have you ever watched the show “Everyone Loves Raymond”? It was a very popular show back in its time and is in constant reruns. Sometimes it can be funny but mostly it just makes me cringe.

The show is one large crossing of boundaries (not to mention a collection of neuroses but we’ll leave that alone for now).

The entire family has no boundaries.

They drop in whenever they want, they butt into each other’s lives. They are completely disrespectful to each other. Naturally, it’s all done under the banner of ‘family love’ but personally, I think that’s a crock.

While it might work in a sitcom where everything is magnified for a laugh, the reality would be frustrating and annoying.

Boundaries can be different for each individual. Family visiting unannounced might be acceptable for some people and not for others.

So how do you make sure that people respect your personal boundaries?

Firstly people need to know what your boundaries are.

To respect your boundaries, people need to be aware of them. They need to be told  (nicely of course) that they need to call before coming over/can’t ring at 2 in the morning/or need to stop constantly canceling on you. Substitute whatever you need to here.

Don’t expect people to automatically know your boundaries.

What might seem like common manners to one person might not mean anything to someone else. The ringing at an ungodly hour is a perfect example.

You need to be specific (without turning it into a grand production and babbling on for ages). Be succinct, clear, and polite to get your point across.

Related postThe Importance of Setting Boundaries

You also need to be consistent.

If a family member is dropping by the house constantly without asking you, you need to be consistent with your ‘this is not acceptable behavior’ message. You can’t pretend it’s okay one minute and be upset the next.

Consistency is where things can get a bit tricky particularly when we are trying to introduce a new boundary into long-established patterns. You may have to tell someone repeatedly that their behavior is unacceptable (again in a nice way).

This constant reinforcement can be draining at first. People often give in – which I have to wonder is what the other person was secretly hoping for all along!

Stay strong.

Having people stomp all over you will lead to resentment. You will feel disrespected and taken for granted.

Don’t think of boundaries as something that limits you, instead see them as something that offers freedom and empowerment.

With strong boundaries in place, you will ultimately have better relationships with people, higher self-esteem, and most likely more time and energy on your hands.

What boundaries do you need to set to set yourself free?

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