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Home How To Set Healthy Boundaries — A Compassionate Guide for Women | by Julia Horvath | Better Humans | Feb, 2021

How To Set Healthy Boundaries — A Compassionate Guide for Women | by Julia Horvath | Better Humans | Feb, 2021

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Good news: I found that figuring out my trespassed boundaries was the hardest part of the work. Once you see clearly where you’ve been wronged, it becomes a lot easier to define limits for yourself. So if you got through to here, you’ve already made it through the worst.

As described above, due to social conditioning, setting boundaries comes a lot easier for men than they come for us women. So first of all, here’s a quick reminder:

You can do whatever the hell you want with your life, body, health, sexuality, and relationships. Your decisions are yours and so are your experiences.

Also, you don’t have to be nice all the time — it’s OK to raise your voice, to not apologize if you feel you haven’t done anything wrong, and state your preferences clearly.

Remember aggression is sometimes necessary, and every time you step back and allow your boundaries to be crossed to be nice, it’s aggression you ultimately direct inwards.

In this spirit, here’s my toolkit to set different types of boundaries for people and situations. I’ll walk you through it based on the boundaries I defined previously.

You can do whatever the hell you want with your life, body, health, sexuality, and relationships. Your decisions are yours, and so are your experiences.

Tool #1: Don’t be afraid to ask for something or to set demands

The emotional boundary I needed to set required a lot of work. I went through much of it in psychotherapy but also read many books about self-worth, self-care, and relationships.

In the end, I learned demands or ultimatums aren’t a bad thing as such — only the application of force is. Everything goes to protect yourself as long as you realize you can (and only have the right to) control your own actions.

Read: If someone doesn’t meet your demands, you can’t force them, but you can choose to walk away, which can be a big act of self-preservation and self-care.

This spirit helped me walk away from being a hookup and the other woman, and it’s also what helps me stand my ground and articulate what I mean by commitment, loyalty, and exclusivity.

Tool #2: Say no

This is the simplest, most straightforward tool we should apply more often.

In my surroundings, I notice how apologies and explanations often follow a justified no. Remember, no is a complete sentence. You can spare apologies for when you harm.

“No” is a complete sentence.

When it comes to my mentioned physical boundary, I learned to say no to sex without a bad conscience, unapologetically. What lies beneath this is a lot of work and the realization of my self-worth.

Tool #3: Call people out

The day I realized I have mental boundaries was the day I chatted with a middle-aged male bookshop owner about whether he’d list a book I published. He referred me to one of his employees, and when I kindly asked for her number, he out of the blue replied, “If you’re not capable to find a number I’m not sure I want to do business with you.”

Earlier, I would’ve apologized. This time, I sent a reprehensive message back.

Tool #4: Disengage & walk away; don’t compromise on your self-worth

I adjudicated the conversation and business to be over. It was difficult because it was one of the bigger bookshops in the city and to have a book there would’ve come with plenty of exposure and benefits. Nevertheless, I decided my dignity isn’t for sale and didn’t regret my decision once.

Interestingly, my female friends were proud of me, while guys understood my position but couldn’t grasp how I could let go of such an opportunity out of pride.

In this spirit…

Tool #5: Stop explaining yourself

You don’t have to justify the decisions you make about your body, life, convictions, and who you decide to engage and do business with. Also, you don’t have to reply to everyone even if they insist on it. You always have the choice where you spend your energy.

Tool #6: Own your feelings

Western, capitalist societies are obsessed with rationality. This often leads us to believe our argument isn’t valid if we say it in the wrong tone. Women are seen as dramatic and men as whiny when their tone carries loads of emotions.

This is called tone policing and is a microaggression often used against BIPOC women. However, I have also experienced it in professional and familiar settings as well as my romantic relationships.

I said it before and repeat it, your feelings are always valid, and it’s OK to allow them to define your tone. Of course, there’s a line, and constant yelling is both wrong and detrimental.

Nevertheless, I see a red flag and will point it out when someone focuses on my tone to avert from the substance of my message.

Tool #7: End the conversation

No, we can’t opt out of every discussion. Often enough we have to take responsibility and/or speak up — for ourselves, against social injustice, racism, etc.

It’s a delicate act to recognize the difference between the abdication of responsibility and self-preservation. When it comes to the latter, you have the right to stop and say no more.

This tool helped me to solve lots of pointless, hurtful discussions with my father that lead nowhere.

At the same time, it helps me to set spiritual boundaries with my family. I stopped to explain my worldviews and end the conversation as soon as I feel coerced.


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