Setting personal boundaries is not only important for ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, but it's also imperative for upleveling your life. Your ability to define and maintain these boundaries has a direct impact on the character you want to evolve into, and it can save you a lot of precious time and energy.
When you clearly define your boundaries, you’re fine-tuning your character and raising its standards. You’re creating rules for yourself and your environment that are in alignment with who you want to be.
Life, of course, will keep bringing you events and circumstances that will challenge your conscious will. Your boundaries will keep being tested. Each time it happens, you can view it as an invitation from reality to consciously elevate and evolve your character.
Remember, this is your life. You get to choose the rules. You get to decide how your physical space will look, who and what you allow to have your mental space. You decide what you say yes to, what you’re willing to tolerate, and what you’re not.
Raising Your Standards
When you set boundaries and follow them you’re making a clear statement to your subconscious about who you want to become. You’re saying to both the Universe and yourself: “I’m ready to uplevel my character. I’m ready not to waste energy on this and that.”
Remember, the decisions you make today will form your life tomorrow, so keep asking questions like: Why am I allowing this? Where are my boundaries being violated? What is misaligned? You are basically stating the standards you want to follow. You consciously create the character you want to play.
In this context, it’s important to remember that although you can play an egoless character who has no boundaries, it’s still a character role to play... In other words, there's still an ego in a so-called egoless character.
Practicing Asserting Yourself
If your boundaries are crossed, especially when this is done repetitively, you want to practice asserting yourself by verbalizing your boundaries in a loving way.
For example, if you value your privacy, and a friend insists on frequent, unannounced drop-in visits, that may be a great opportunity to practice what often feels like an “uncomfortable conversation.” It's only uncomfortable because we've been conditioned to think it is…
The thing to realize is that it’s perfectly OK to verbalize and satisfy your own needs, especially with loved ones. The alternative can get very unhealthy.
Your first step is always the same: clearly define your “bottom line boundaries.” If they are not clearly defined, then it’d be hard to verbalize and enforce them.
Now, if you’ve been going years without clearly defining, verbalizing, and enforcing your boundaries, there’s a good chance others won’t take you seriously at first. They may even react with a bit of surprise or even shock. In those cases, it’s key to stand your ground.
Boundary violations can trigger feelings of guilt, resentment, and regret, whether it was your boundary that was violated or your violation of someone else’s boundary. A good way to frame a boundary violation is to see it as a lesson from the Universe that can help you better align. Guilt is a teacher. Resentment is a teacher. Regret is a teacher. These teachers help you to elevate.
Now, if people keep violating your boundaries, how would you like your character to act? On one hand, you can be strict: you can unfriend, block, disengage… On another, you can accept and tolerate boundary violations. It is, of course, up to you.
You might find, for example, that in some areas of life, your boundaries are too strict. In other areas, too loose. This requires ongoing reflection: Which areas of your life require tightening? Which ones require loosening and perhaps even compromising? Once again, it’s up to you. Your space, your rules.
Similarly, where is your line when it comes to respecting others’ boundaries? Do you always want to play it safe, so to speak? When is it right for you to push into other people's space? It all comes down to the character you want to play.
Acknowledging Your Truth
When you experience boundary violations, often the easiest way out is to ignore it and deny your truth. Pretending things are OK...Things are not that bad...
On one level, you’re blocking the potential stress that comes with acknowledging what is. On another level, you’re denying your own power. Whenever you deny the truth, you're delaying growth, you’re delaying your evolution, you’re slowing yourself down.
The key, therefore, is to acknowledge truth, which may include acknowledging and accepting the truth that you may not have the power to take action yet, that you might not be strong enough yet, that you’re not ready for the change you’re called upon.
From that place of acceptance, it’s much easier to align back into your power and declare the intentions and life you truly want.
Enforcing Your Boundaries
One of the most effective ways to enforce your boundaries is to set a 21-Day Boundary Experiment. You share your specific boundary with others and let them know that you intend to strictly enforce that boundary for 21 days. And that if someone violates your boundaries even once during those 21 days, you then take some space. No communication, no phone calls, no emails, no messages—unless it’s absolutely needed.
After the 21-day spacing period, you can start a new 21-Day Boundary Experiment or restart the same experiment, if it needs more practice.
If someone violates your boundary repetitively, and you reach the point where it’s pretty clear the other person has no intention of respecting your boundaries whatsoever, regardless of your attempts to enforce them, then you may want to cease that relationship.
This does not mean you stop loving them, it just means you stop spending your energy and time with them. You can, of course, always reconsider resuming the relationship.
This might sound a bit harsh, but if you want to uplevel your character, then it’s necessary to invest your precious resources where mutual respect exists.
When to Compromise
Compromising works because it provides a solution. It works by finding a middle ground that both parties can live with. However, compromising can also be ineffective as it denies your power to create the reality and life you truly want.
My suggestion: compromise only when the outcome is not so important or when interim solutions are required until a more thorough and permanent solution can be found.
In all other cases, simply don’t compromise. Claim your power and ask reality for what you truly want, even if you don’t see how it’s possible... Stop doing the little ask and deliberately put your energy in the direction of the reality you want, even if it means waiting until the right solution shows up, a win-win, a solution that’s the best of both worlds.
Oftentimes, you’ll notice that others resist your boundaries and use guilt as a tool of emotional manipulation to get you aligned with their needs. When others do that—which is something that happens unconsciously— it’s key to interrupt that pattern.
One of the best ways to interrupt the guilt pattern is by bringing awareness to it. For example, you can mention something like: “I feel guilty now, and that’s not something I want to feel for expressing my needs.”
You basically want to keep interrupting the guilt pattern by verbalizing and bringing attention to what’s happening in your body. You don’t need to beat up others about it; they are simply doing the best they can. Instead, just share it in the most loving way.
Last but not least, it’d be wise to define internal boundaries for yourself. After all, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you’ll ever have.
For example, what internal boundaries are you called to have for obsessive thinking, negative self-chatter, or when your thoughts and feelings are out of control? How would you redirect or override it? Would you use the energy and redirect it towards self-love or humor? Would you remind yourself to shift perspective and drown yourself with positive affirmations?
Furthermore, what critical boundaries are you called to have when you fall into obsessive behaviour or addiction? How would you interrupt the pattern? Would you, for example, physically move yourself from where you are? Would you set a penalty or incentive? Would you call or message a friend? The options are limitless and depend on your own style.
Additionally, are you called to set ethical or lifestyle boundaries for yourself? Are you called to not eat meat? To work in a company that shares certain values?
Remember, your actions and the boundaries you set for yourself create your character, and eventually your reality.
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.