The importance of being assertive and setting clear boundaries

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Dear all,

In this blog, I would like to share with you information about how we can create healthy boundaries by being assertive. I will also explain why it is so important to do so.

Assertiveness is a problem for many highly sensitive and empath clients and also, clients with low self-esteem and self-confidence issues.  

Assertiveness includes the following: 

    • Being able to set clear boundaries
    • Telling our honest meaning
    • Expressing to those close to us when we feel hurt by their words

What is assertiveness?

To be assertive means that you are aware of your feelings and your boundaries, and you are able to express them to yourself and to those around you: your partner, your friends, your colleagues, your family, and so on. 

To be assertive has nothing to do with being selfish.

Not at all.

It means that you express what you need and what is essential for you in a loving way. It is a clear sign for yourself and others, that you honour the person you are. It simply means that you respect yourself as much as you appreciate others. Being assertive does not mean that you need to be apologetic or feel bad about setting these boundaries. 

In personal relationships, setting clear boundaries, expressing your honest opinions helps others to understand who you are and what is essential for you as a person. The feeling of being loved is much connected with being understood, letting the other person know the real you. Love requires all of us to take the risk of being who we indeed are.

At a professional level, as well as in business and work settings, it is also crucial to set boundaries and express one’s own meaning, and it can be done in a gentle, positive way. 

When you are assertive, you take charge, and you do something to improve a situation; it usually helps directly, as you immediately feel better about yourself.

How can we stand up for ourselves?

When confronted with any form of danger, every living creature has a way to defend itself. This response is built into every physical being to guarantee its survival. So, it is ok to acknowledge that we have a defence mechanism.

When someone says or does something inconvenient or unpleasant, it is imperative to recognize the feelings and thoughts connected to that. Some can feel the stomach muscles tighten; others become flushed with anger or embarrassment. 

After you become aware of your thoughts and feelings, you can address the person in this way:

  • ‘I’d like to clear some things with you. Or/ and ‘I really care about our relationship, so I need to share my feelings with you for us to clear them .’

  • Look the person in the eye while talking about what happened and what you need. Don’t try to negotiate, and it is essential to own your own feelings; don’t blame and don’t shame the other.

  • Use phrases as: ‘I felt, ‘I feel,’ ‘to me.’

  • Do not diminish or apologies for your feelings. Remember that we have the right to our feelings, even if other people don’t agree or understand them.

If the other person starts to blame or becomes defensive, the conversation will become unproductive. As long as you or both are blaming, nothing will get resolved. 

If this is a relationship where you often need to stand up for yourself, set boundaries and be assertive, take some time to consider it. Toxic relationships are, as the name says toxic, unhealthy. You don’t need to have such a relationship when so many non-toxic potential friends and partners are available. Never believe that you have to settle for an unhealthy relationship. You don’t need to. 

Now a few words about boundaries

A boundary is your limit, which no one can overstep, not even the closest person in your life. 

Boundaries are ways to show people what you will and won’t accept in a relationship. We all need to invest time and energy into it (so it requires a certain amount of work), but is it worth it!

Every relationship has issues and negotiations about boundaries. So, the problem is not whether to avoid conflicts, but how you deal with it in a long-term relationship.

Examples of boundaries are personal space (body space), spending time alone, hearing words of acknowledgments and affection, your personal items to be respected and left alone, etc.

Also, remember to respect the right to schedule your own time and make your own decisions. Don’t allow others to dictate what to do and when to do things for you. For example, you have the right not to answer the phone or the doorbell when it rings and not feel obligated to immediately reply to emails and social media posts (a very relevant issue).

If someone asks you to drop everything to drive them across the town, you have the right to say no. 

Boundaries are a form of self-care. When you keep and work with your boundaries, your self-esteem and self-confidence increase by not allowing others to manipulate, make you feel guilty or control you.

Another important thing is that everyone benefits when you learn to maintain your boundaries and say no with grace, love, and firmness. You also teach others to stand up for their boundaries, remember to support themselves, and grow. 

When you exercise your boundaries and learn to say no, you have more free time to devote to your passions and your priorities, and therefore more energy, more life quality. Simply, you feel more happy, joyful and fulfilled.  Boundaries give us a healthier and happier mind and a higher energy level. You are no longer fixated on the thought that other people take advantage of you. The thought patterns like – being resentful, feeling like a victim, not having control over one’s life, – if left unchecked, can lead to depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship issues, loneliness, and other negative results. 

Be aware of your feelings and set boundaries with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Let them know your meaning, what you think and feel.

Learn to say ‘no’ with grace, love and firmness.

 

By being assertive you are valuing who you are, and everyone benefits from it: yourself and those around you.

So keep in mind healthy boundaries, and learn to be assertive. It is worth it!

Kind regards,

Melinda

Source of inspiration : Virtue, Doreen, PhD: Assertiveness for Earth Angels: how to be loving instead of too nice, 2013

Photo by Quentin Lagache

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