Being able to enforce your personal boundaries is very important
So you’ve done the hard work of figuring out your boundaries and communicated them to the person who always seems to be stepping over them. But how do you enforce them now? That’s a big question because it can be downright difficult to do this at the best of time. The people who will try to step over them are the very ones who need them the most. These people just don’t seem to get it and so you find yourself back at Square One. But you’re really not. First you have to realize that there are some people who simply do not respect other people’s boundaries. It’s maddening when that happens and so you need to take a step back and regroup so you don’t allow those people to fall back into old patterns of taking you for granted and abusing your good nature. Choosing to ignore their behavior will simply force you into a place of compliance and you will get back on the Merry-go-round of resentment and anger.S
Sometimes people are very obvious when they are overstepping your boundaries
Other times, they can be downright manipulative and sneaky about it. You need to be on your guard with someone who has repeatedly taken advantage of you so you can stop it in its tracks when it starts happening again. Establishing a set of boundaries does no good if you fail to enforce them when needed.
Boundary issues are not democratic pronouncements and not subject to negotiation
You have to remember that you are the person who set these boundaries and the reasons why you did it. It can be a very scary thing to do but sometimes there are no other viable options. Try to remember why you set the boundaries in the first place. If you are normally a “go with the flow” kind of person it will be tempting to just “let it go” but be careful in doing this because you will soon find yourself being railroaded down the path of anger again. You may decide to choose to avoid a confrontation but that will probably not work in the long run because the person ignoring your boundaries will take that as carte blanche to step all over you again thus exploiting your generosity yet again. If the person who ignores your boundaries is a co-worker then it is time to use some assertiveness. If you haven’t learned any assertiveness skills this is a good time to do so. It can be very challenging but you will have the most success dealing with a person like this if you approach them with an assertive message. People will often try to talk you out of your boundaries by saying, “Oh, come on!” But stick to your guns. They may tell you you’re not being a team player in which case you might decide to spend some time educating them about what team players really are. But, again, this is a case where assertiveness will win the day.
You are not responsible for another person’s feelings
What is important to remember is that you are not responsible for their feelings and it’s not your job to coddle them so they don’t feel bad. You need to look after your own self and your own feelings and if setting boundaries keeps you from turning into an angry ball of rage, then you need to stick to them. It might sound like a heartless way to approach things but you have to remember to always advocate for yourself.
In the end, it comes down to reminding the other person that no = no
End of subject. Full stop. You don’t have to be mean about it just be assertive. Don’t apologize for saying no but do say no if your co-worker asks you to stay late and help them get the big grant proposal photocopied and you have a date night scheduled with your boyfriend. With any luck you will only have to deliver this assertive message two or three times before they finally get it. If not, return to Assertiveness 101 and restate. Restate. Restate. As many times as it takes.