Setting Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

Mindset + Motivation

“Walls keep everybody out. Boundaries teach people where the door is.”

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I'M MONIQUA!

A real food devotee, self-care connoisseur and Jedi mindset master dedicated to helping you have a body and life you love. I'm so glad you're here! Now, let's rock and roll :)

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I came across a beautiful quote this week by Mark Groves, “Walls keep everybody out. Boundaries teach people where the door is.” We spend far too much time molding our lives around other people’s behavior. But setting healthy boundaries in relationships will help you mend the broken ones and create healthy ones with confidence.

Setting boundaries can be one of the most difficult conversations to have, so many people avoid them. As women especially, society often tells us to “be nice” and accommodating, sacrificing our own happiness and comfort for the sake of others. We don’t want to “rock the boat” or be seen as demanding or a bitch — which is such bullsh#t if you ask me!

So, we’re going to explore how to have those difficult conversations, how to open our hearts and our mouths when something just needs to be said. AND we’ll also discuss how to handle it when we overstep someone else’s boundary and need to apologize.

This may be our most vulnerable week yet, but it’s right on time. We just had a powerful full moon combined with a lunar eclipse (Did you check it out? So beautiful!), which cosmically signifies a perfect time to turn over a new leaf and start a fresh chapter in our lives.

So let’s heal our relationships with others — and more importantly, ourselves!

Personal Line: Do Not Cross

Boundaries have a bad reputation for being something you throw down once shit finally hits the fan, but setting clear boundaries is actually a sign of healthy self-esteem. It illustrates that you are self-aware of what your needs are and confident enough to voice them without aggression or embarrassment. Plus, when you’re clear upfront about what you will accept and what is a total no-go, it leads to less mess and stress in the end.

Before you can draw your line in the proverbial sand though, you need to know where you want to put it. Here is where those core values you developed earlier this month come in handy. (Need a refresher? Click here.)  

Your core values, what’s most important to you, help dictate your choices, and the circumstances for that choice to be a HELL YES make up your boundaries. For example, I value having self-care time. In order for me to do that and really feel refreshed, I need an hour after work each day to focus on me and recharge fully. No phone, no TV, no people. So if someone asks me to do something that will overlap within that non-negotiable time, I either say no, or ask if we can reschedule for a different time.

Just remember to come from a positive headspace. You’re not there to run down a list of everything someone does that irritates you (and in fact, setting boundaries more often will help you avoid that kind of verbal explosion). Come from a place of, “I value our relationship, and so I need to talk to you about this because it’s important to me…”

Another important part of setting a boundary is to match what you say with your behavior. If you have a strict policy on monogamy in relationships, then you should also honor that commitment. If you don’t want to hear about your aunt’s political views at Thanksgiving dinner, you can’t bring up the most recent article you read in the Times over the Brussels sprouts.

Some people will 100% not accept your boundary. But remember, this isn’t about them, it’s about you. So decide on the consequences of them ignoring everything you shared and continuing to repeat their previous behavior ahead of time. This way, you don’t have to decide how to deal with a toxic person, relationship or scenario when your emotions are sky-high. You’ve already put a system in place to support yourself. High five!

Apologize and Mean It

Just like with setting boundaries, apologizing is about taking personal responsibility for your actions – on both sides. The one who gives the apology has a chance to repair the relationship and acknowledge that they understand a line was crossed, and it gives the receiver a chance to voice or reinforce what their boundary is for the future.  

Eating a slice of humble pie is traditionally viewed as humiliating, but I call B.S. again. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, but to look at it through the same lens as a personal failure is unrealistic.

People make mistakes, say the wrong thing and rub people the wrong way. No two people ever have a perfect relationship (whether it’s romantic, work-related or a friendship) where they never disagree and always get along. In fact, that might end up being really boring! So being able to maneuver those sticky situations with honesty, kindness and clarity is a sign of basic respect — and a sign of growth!

Still, many of us avoid apologizing like the plague! Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance — when our brains cannot accept two contradictory ideas. Like being a kind person but also rudely snapping at the Starbucks barista. So we compensate by rationalizing why the most negative of the two thoughts is wrong. “She wasn’t paying attention, she was lazy, she was rude first…”

Or we apologize simply to escape punishment or “to get it over with”. I think we can all agree that a non-apology is basically no apology at all. A sincere apology “lets people know you’re the kind of person who is generally careful not to hurt others and puts the focus on your better virtues, rather than on your worst mistakes.” It allows you the opportunity to reestablish that you are a safe space for your friend, lover, coworker or even just an acquaintance to be around and to confide in.

There is another natural reason why saying you’re sorry is so scary. It’s an exchange of power. “By apologizing, you take the shame of your offense and redirect it to yourself. You admit to hurting or diminishing someone and, in effect, say that you are really the one who is diminished — I’m the one who was wrong, mistaken, insensitive, or stupid. In acknowledging your shame you give the offended the power to forgive. The exchange is at the heart of the healing process.”

So that exchange is central to mending the damaged relationship, but it also leaves you open to the other person deciding to increase your shame too. It’s a very vulnerable position, for sure, and that’s why we’re practicing being naked on so many levels this month! And because an apology is an act of generosity, when the recipient’s dignity is restored, you also benefit from that good feeling in the form of forgiveness.  

Make sure to apologize sincerely, without letting your ego redirect the blame to others.  To combat your cognitive dissonance when it kicks in, learn to recognize your usual excuses, whether in words or how your body feels. I bet you already ready know a few of those thoughts and feelings immediately: “I’m just so busy. He’s the boss so it’s his job to deal with it. They are always rude here.” Or maybe your throat gets super dry and your eyes avert someone’s gaze. Once you’re more aware of these personal patterns, you’ll be better equipped to spot them on the fly and shift gears in a more positive direction.

My Challenge to you for this week is to think about a situation where you need to set a boundary with someone — or where you need apologize. Then start forming a plan. Write out a script if you need to, practice with a trusted friend, and remember that the ability to be naked and speak your truth is a step in the direction of healing — and being whole.

My wish for you this year is that you forge stronger, more authentic relationships — especially the one you have with yourself.

LOVE (means you’re willing to say you’re sorry),

P.S. Let me know how everything goes, or if you need more support, in the comments below.

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  1. […] is where creating healthy boundaries is also paramount, so be sure to get a refresher here on how to set and maintain those “lines in the proverbial sand” with grace and […]

  2. […] is where creating healthy boundaries is also paramount, so be sure to get a refresher here on how to set and maintain those “lines in the proverbial sand” with grace and […]

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A Real Food Devotee + Self Care Connoisseur + Jedi Mindset Master dedicated to helping you elevate your health, your life—and your career.

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