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How to Set Boundaries: 10 Crucial Steps to Feel More in Control

Do you feel like you are a doormat and people are always using you? Well, that’s because you don’t know how to set boundaries. Here are some tips.

how to set boundaries

We all want people to like us, right? Of course we do. It’s human nature. But there are some people who are so desperate for love and to be accepted by others that they just let people walk all over them.

Does that sound like you? Are you always doing things for other people and not receiving anything in return? Do you always feel exhausted, frustrated, and depressed because you are just feeling used? Well, that’s because no one taught you how to set boundaries.

How to set boundaries – 10 little steps to feel in control

If your parents never demonstrated how to set boundaries, or you just don’t love yourself enough to do it, there are definitely things that you can do to stop being used by other people and start having a happier life.

Here are some tips for how to set boundaries.

#1 Explore what makes you feel good. Believe it or not, some people are so busy giving, giving, giving to other people that they don’t even know what they like or who they are. [Read: Boundaries in dating – How far is too far?]

I dated a guy like that once. He was always doing nice things for me. And at first I liked it. But then it dawned on me that he never did anything for himself. And when I asked him what he wanted from me, he literally had no clue. He was so used to giving, that he never thought about receiving.

So, if this sounds like you, then think about what you like. Then start doing it, or asking other people to give it to you too.

#2 Determine what doesn’t make you feel good. Just like my ex-boyfriend didn’t know what made him feel good and what he wanted, he also didn’t have an awareness of what he didn’t like.

I know that might sound weird, well, at least it does to me. But maybe it doesn’t to you. So, you need to explore what you don’t like. And then stop doing it. And tell other people “no” if they ask you to do something you don’t like. [Read: 13 happy things you need for a truly happy life]

#3 Think about what causes you stress. I absolutely cannot handle stress at all. It literally manifests in my body, and I can’t handle it. That’s why I work very hard to put plans into place in my life so I minimize stress as much as possible.

So, if you are too stressed because you are doing things you don’t want to do, or maybe you think you should do them to please other people, then stop doing them. Or at least plan better so you aren’t so crazed all the time. [Read: How to stop being manipulated in a relationship]

#4 Be self-aware. Like I said earlier, my ex-boyfriend didn’t know what he wanted or needed. But that’s because he lacked self-awareness. He literally couldn’t look within himself and figure anything out. I’m not saying it’s easy, because for some people, it’s not. But you have to try. Having an awareness of who you are will help you learn how to set boundaries.

#5 Communicate clearly. Ironically, I sometimes think I’m communicating something very clearly to people, and it ends up that I’m not.

I once said to a boyfriend I was trying to break up with, “I shouldn’t be a priority for you.” What I really meant was, “You’re not my priority, so don’t make me one either. I am breaking up with you.” But what he heard was, “Okay, you can make me a priority if you want.”

When you want to know how to set boundaries, you have to communicate very, very clearly and specifically so that other people know what you’re talking about. [Read: How to tell your partner you’re unhappy in the clearest terms possible]

#6 Be direct with your words. Men and women tend to speak differently sometimes. Men don’t pick up on subtlety and clues. They have to have it spelled out for them.

So just as you have to speak and communicate clearly, you also have to be direct. Instead of saying, “I’m really tired, so I don’t think I can go out with you tonight,” say, “I am not going out with you.” Period. The end. The first one leaves it a bit open-ended so the other person can try to overstep the boundary and convince you to come out when you don’t want to.

#7 Don’t accept bad behavior from people. I have a couple of friends who are chronically late. I’m not talking 5 or 10 minutes late. I’m talking a minimum of an hour. I can’t tell you how many times I sat in restaurant waiting for them to show up being pissed off because they were wasting my time. I could have been doing something else with that hour.

So guess what? I don’t hang out with them anymore. Sometimes you just have to say enough is enough and find other people to hang out with who respect you. [Read: How to say No – Stop pleasing people and feel awesome instead]

#8 Disconnect from people who don’t treat you well. Whether it’s chronically late people or just people who use you or say horrible things to you, well, you need to cut them out of your life.

Well, first I would talk to them and ask them to change their behavior, but if they don’t, then life would be better without them. Life is too short to be treated like crap by other people!

#9 Don’t strive for perfection. Perfection is a myth. In other words, what’s perfect to me is not perfect to you. And vice versa. So, if you are trying to be perfect, and as a result, you have no boundaries, well, stop trying to be perfect. Because you never will be. No one will ever be perfect. And so just be the best version of you that you can be and don’t worry about it. [Read: How to be happy again – 20 ways to draw happiness from within]

#10 Don’t overload your life. Because we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings or disappoint them, we always say yes. But don’t over-commit your life. Just because someone asks you to help them move doesn’t mean you have to.

Just because someone asks you to babysit their kid doesn’t mean you have to. Don’t be a people-pleaser. Please yourself, because that is a huge step when learning how to set boundaries.

[Read: Are you a people pleaser? 20 common signs most people don’t see]

I know it’s hard to say no and to take on different habits. But if you want to learn how to set boundaries, you have to do it. And trust me, you will be a lot happier when you do!

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...