Personal boundaries are important guidelines we set for ourselves in order to feel safe, secure and happy.
These boundaries are formed based on many variables such as social experiences and personal preferences and can be physical, mental, spiritual and more.
Some people form strong personal boundaries without even noticing, while others have to constantly work at defining these regulations. Some people may even form personal boundaries that are too strong, due to tendencies toward being headstrong or close-minded.
The biggest problem, however, is when someone completely lacks personal boundaries. They will end up feeling misunderstood and even used at times, which leads to an overall feeling of insecurity and social discomfort.
If you feel that your personal boundaries are weak, ask yourself if these five signs sound familiar and make a plan to address them.
1. You say yes too often.
Do you always hear yourself saying yes, even when you don’t want to? It may sound kind to put other’s needs above your own, but if it’s too constant it may lead to people disrespecting you. It’s important to learn how to put your foot down and speak up for what you want because in most cases, the only person to make sure you are treated right is yourself.
Sure, it would be nice if no one took advantage of people who are easy, but the real world is chocked full of intelligently selfish people who will sniff out your weak boundaries and use them to their advantage.
2. People take you for granted.
You may notice these people in your life, whether they are supposedly close friends or just acquaintances at work. They have gotten used to you always saying “yes” and slowly but surely they have come to expect it. Have you ever seen someone look shocked and or angry on the rare occasions you do say “No”?
This is a sign that you have been too easy-going and need to put a little work into building your boundaries. If you clearly state and reflect how you would like to be treated, as well as what you like and don’t like in general, people will take you more seriously and respect you rather than taking you for granted.
3. You’re too sympathetic to the point where you feel guilt.
Of course, you should show some sympathy towards those you are close with in times of need but you also have to know where to draw the line. If you overly sympathize with people you will get to the point where their negative feelings and experiences affect your life negatively and that is not fair to you.
You need to know when to put yourself first and excuse yourself from a negative situation, without feeling terribly guilty about it.
4. You have negative thoughts too often.
One of the hardest personal boundaries to maintain is the one with yourself. Physical boundaries come naturally, for example, you probably know whether or not you enjoy holding hands with others. Mental and spiritual boundaries, on the other hand, can be quite difficult to understand. It may sound silly, but often times we know ourselves less than we think.
If you notice negative thoughts circling your mind daily, whether it is dreading situations you are stressed about, recalling uncomfortable memories with embarrassment or reacting negatively towards minor aspects of your day, you need to establish some personal boundaries with yourself.
It’s a good practice to designate a specific amount of time that you are allowed to feel bad after which you must move on.
5. You feel anxious with certain people and or in certain situations.
If you have weak personal boundaries you may be taken for granted, disrespected and even socially awkward. This all will likely lead to anxiety, especially when dealing with people and social situations. It’s no fun to interact with people who don’t treat you right and if you don’t establish personal boundaries from the start, it will only get harder to do so, as those around you get used to your weak boundaries.
It’s never too late to start strengthening your personal boundaries, however. You may lose a friend along the way, but if that friend won’t respect your personal boundaries, chances are they are not a friend worth having.