You’re tired of people taking advantage of you. Your personal life isn’t going well, and you feel like it’s time for a change. But you’ve already tried this whole idea of setting boundaries, and it just isn’t working. What’s going wrong?

Frequently the problems in setting boundaries stem from several mistaken beliefs about boundaries in general. Below we’ve debunked five myths about healthy boundaries.

Myth #1: If I set boundaries, I’m selfish. That is perhaps the biggest reasons that people don’t set boundaries. From an early age, we are taught to think of others’ needs before our own. So, by the time we’re adults we’re hard-wired to think our own needs don’t matter. Nothing is further from the truth. You set boundaries because you recognize that you have worth and value. You’re saying, “I think enough of myself to feel like I have the rights that everyone else has.” Not less.

Myth #2: Setting boundaries will make me miserable. When we first set boundaries, it takes a little getting used to the changes. The lines we draw are supposed to keep the things we don’t want in our life out, not keep us penned in forever. If you think you’re going to have to live in adherence to a lot of harsh rules, you’re mistaken. Boundaries are about taking control. That’s very liberating.

Myth #3: People won’t like me anymore if I set boundaries. The problem with having lived your life with very few boundaries, or poorly-enforced ones, is that people tend to take advantage — a lot. So yes, there’s going to be some pushback when you first set boundaries. Will some people not like you? It’s possible. But you have to keep in mind that the relationship you enjoyed with that person wasn’t a healthy one. It was probably fairly enabling on your part. If someone doesn’t like the new you, you might need to rethink the relationship. Was it worth salvaging in the first place?

Myth #4: If I set boundaries, my relationships will suffer. Paired alongside the worry about people liking you, comes the idea that setting down guidelines in your relationships will cause people to turn away from you. Again, people who are genuinely interested in your well-being will have no problem with being supportive of these changes. Anyone who is bitter, angry, or resentful of this new you needs to take a hike. 

Myth #5: Isn’t life with boundaries rigid? Like #2 on this list, there’s an assumption that living with boundaries means that you will always have to play by the rules, no matter what. What you need to remember is that healthy boundaries involve being flexible. You’re growing and changing all the time. Boundaries will likewise need to grow and change to continue to support you.

Hopefully, now that you have a clearer understanding of what healthy boundaries are – and what they aren’t – you’re ready to try again. Remember, it’s up to you to take control of your life. Healthy boundaries will ensure that it’s you that’s making the decisions and not someone else. Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to try?