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Learn to set boundaries!

By Brenda Payan

Relationships are hard.

There’s a million books, articles and podcasts focused on what red flags to look out for in a partner, what is okay, what’s not okay, what boundaries are, how boundaries are not for other people but for yourself…and the list goes on.

While some resources can be useful, there is never going to be an exhaustive list that completely protects us from a toxic partnership or helps us identify every single unhealthy behavior. This is what makes relationships hard: how complex and sensitive the process of getting to know a whole other person can be.

How many times have you been in a situation where someone did something or said something that made you uncomfortable, but you weren’t sure if it was actually something to be upset about? Maybe you tried talking about it but got nowhere. It can be immensely confusing and invalidating when people are not willing or able to understand your perspective or your feelings.

The silver lining is that we do innately have a tool that we can all use to both set healthy boundaries and catch harmful behaviors and that is trust — specifically learning to trust yourself and trust in your ability to navigate through discomfort.

Trusting yourself is accepting and validating your own feelings, even if others may not agree. Trusting yourself is taking steps to remove yourself from environments where you feel uncomfortable, ignored or mistreated. Trusting yourself is feeling uncomfortable things such as shame, embarrassment, sadness and anger and knowing that you do not have to do anything else but sit with the feeling, process it and then decide if a conversation or a new boundary is needed.

Trusting yourself is not attempting to change other people, their behaviors, their beliefs or get them to understand your boundaries.

The truth is, everyone is going to have different boundaries for different reasons and no source is going to be able to tell you exactly what behaviors are red flags, but you already know what is a red flag to you. If something makes you uncomfortable or hurts you, that is enough for you to set a boundary. Nobody but you has to understand it or agree with it.

Your boundaries are meant to keep you safe, to keep you feeling calm and comfortable and in tune with yourself, your wants and expectations. You should always be your first priority.