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Setting Personal Boundaries

Start setting simple but firm boundaries with a graceful or neutral tone. This will feel uncomfortable at first but, as you take care of yourself, the personal power you gain will make it easier.

  1. Be sure to have support in place before and after each conversation.
  2. Vent any strong emotions with your partner before having your boundary conversation.
  3. Use simple, direct language. Here are some examples:
     
    To set a boundary with an angry person:
     “You may not yell at me. If you continue, I’ll have to leave the room.”
     
     To set a boundary with personal phone calls at work:
    "I've decided to take all personal calls in the evening in order to get my work done. I will need to call you later."
     
    To say no to extra commitments:
    "Although this organization is important to me, I need to decline your request for volunteer help in order to honor my family's needs."
     
    To set a boundary with someone who is critical:
    "It's not okay with me that you comment on my weight. I'd like to ask you to stop."
     
    To buy yourself time when making tough decisions:
    "I'll have to sleep on it; I have a policy of not making decisions right away."
    "I want you to know that I won't be making a decision today. I'd like to gather additional information."
     
    To back out of a commitment:
    "I know I agreed to head up our fundraising efforts, but after reviewing my schedule, I now realize that I won't be able to give it my best attention. I'll need to bow out. I'd like to help find a replacement by the end of next week.”
  4. When setting boundaries, there is no need to defend, debate, or over-explain your feelings. Be firm, gracious, and direct. When faced with resistance, repeat your statement or request.
  5. Back up your boundary with action. Stay strong. If you give in, you invite people to ignore your needs.
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