Someone just came by and dumped extra work on your desk – something that’s not your responsibility, but that somehow now you’re expected to do. Your sister called and told you you’re babysitting this weekend, regardless of the plans you might have already made. All week long it’s been one thing after another. And by the end of it all, you’re feeling something like a used tissue – worn out, shredded, and full of nasty stuff inside that no one would want to get near.

You don’t have boundaries, and the world has beaten a path to your door with their self-interest at heart. For too long you’ve been paying the price.

How do you break out of this vicious cycle? That’s quite literally up to you.

It starts with setting personal boundaries – something that draws an invisible line around you that no one should ever cross without your permission. But more than that, a boundary tells the world that you have worth and that you’re not going to be defined by someone else.

But how do you establish personal boundaries when, until this moment, you’ve never had them (or never had strong ones)?

1. Realize you have value. Your self-worth is tied strongly to your boundaries. When you don’t think much of yourself, neither does the world. They certainly will see no barriers to using you to serve their needs. But when you start seeing your worth, you can’t help but begin to act like you have worth. Which means you start valuing not just yourself, but your time and resources. Boundaries follow self-worth. 

2. Recognize that your needs are meaningful. With worth comes the notion that it’s ok to have wants and needs – that your wants and needs have as much value as anyone else’s. That gives you the right to not only ask for things but leads to the next item on this list.

3. Learn the power of saying ‘no.’  When you value yourself, you start to value your time. There aren’t enough hours in the day, or personal resources to agree to everything you’re asked to do. Boundaries enable you to say no. 

4. Understand your moral code. There are some things you will do, and some you definitely won’t. Boundaries allow you to identify those areas. What are the lines that you will not cross? That’s a boundary. Solidify these in your mind.

5. Know that you’ve got this. By starting to trust yourself, you find that you ask for help less often. You don’t need rescuing. You can stand on your own two feet. There’s a lot of power in that. Good boundaries establish the fact that you’re trusting yourself to take care of you. 

By recognizing that you have worth, you will find that making boundaries just got a whole lot easier. What’s more, the world around you will start to see you as a force to be reckoned with, and who would have thought that all of this happens from setting a boundary!