Create healthy boundaries and level up your relationships
Are you at a place in your life where certain behavior will no longer be accepted? Here is how to create healthy boundaries to level up your relationships.
In many woman’s journeys there comes a time when we wake up and realize we deserve more. The question is are we willing to do something about it. While it is not always easy to level up, trust you are more than worth it.
There was a period of time in my life when it seemed like all of my relationships were failing and falling out of my life. Even new ones couldn’t seem to stick.
In the beginning, it felt like something was wrong with me as I struggled to hold on to the threads of relationships that were eluding me.
Around this time, I started to see a new therapist and learned about codependency and how it played out in relationships. There are five core symptoms of co-dependency as defined by Pia Mellody, author of Facing Co-Dependence.
Three of the five core symptoms of co-dependency are:
1. Low self esteem (often hard to spot, hidden by high other-esteem)
2. Inability to clearly identify one’s own needs and wants
3. Difficulty with boundaries
All symptoms that were at the source of my lack of healthy standards and boundaries.
It wasn’t that I was losing love in my life nor friendship. My relationship with myself was shifting and as it did, my relationship with others mirrored this.
Treatment and behavior that I hadn’t previously questioned because of low self-esteem and inability to identify my needs and wants now became glaring issues.
The people in my life weren’t changing – I was.
With time, I also discovered that if I wanted to transform my life to match the new standard I had for myself I would need to level up my relationships.
This was a very difficult process and one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. To support me in my healing and growth I created this process to create healthy boundaries.
1. Raise your standards
The first step to create healthy boundaries is to increase your standards. This may happen naturally as you heal or it may come through a piqued awareness as you begin to notice things in your life that no longer work.
Make it clear, write them down. Ask yourself, “What no longer works and what is becoming necessary?“
2. Have a selection process/criteria
Once you are clear on your standards you are in a better position to know what to allow into your life. What to let go of, and how to discern between the two become clear.
Now it is time to get clear on what your new standards actually look like in daily life. To do this transform your new standards into criteria of how you would like to be treated.
For example – if you have decided that a standard in your life is to only date men that want a serious relationship. Then as part of your selection process may be that you find out what a man is looking in his life before investing too much time.
Listen to his words and discern if his desires are in alignment with yours. Some men will self deselect when you share that you are only interested in something serious and others will step up their game inside of your clarity.
Do not shy from this out of fear of rejection or abandonment, this is where you get to create the new pattern of self-love vs self-sacrifice for the sake of love.
3. Set boundaries to uphold your standards
Now that you have your new standard of treatment and are clear on what it looks like in your life, it is time to actually create healthy boundaries to ensure that you uphold these standards.
A clear boundary related to the previous example may ‘I will not go out or spend time with a potential mate that has made it clear they are not interested in a serious relationship at all or with me.’
And the first step in doing this is to write it down!
This is imperative because when you are creating new behavior it can be easy to forget new standards and let things slide in moments of discomfort. Clearly written boundaries are important to be able to fall back on and look at in moments of weakness.
It is also helpful for the other person and the relationship as a whole as it builds accountability and trust. As you hold boundaries that are important for you to feel safe and loved – the other person gets to learn who you are and what you need (thus how to treat you).
Furthermore, if a person is not willing to respect your boundaries then you will have a clear indicator of lack of alignment and can proceed accordingly.
This is a powerful tool because some needs and wants may be getting met on some level, making it tempting to just ‘make do’ when others aren’t.
Remember this is about leveling up, not just getting some needs met. You get to say how it goes.
You may be wondering. “but what if my boundaries are too much or my standards too high?” Don’t worry about this, in the beginning.
As you increase your standards and adjust your boundaries it will feel like too much because it is more than you are used to receiving or feeling worthy of.
Some former needs may potentially be low self-worth/esteem-based needs you are releasing. So release the temptation to settle or label yourself as too much.
TIP: Remember this is not about making the other person right or wrong for not meeting your needs. It’s about creating alignment and acknowledging where it is missing. Avoid the trap of rationalizing your boundaries away because the other person is nice or good.
4. Create rituals to support you when triggers or old behavior tempt you to compromise your boundaries
Last but not least, know that this is a process. As you raise your standards and shift, your boundaries will be tested. Begin to notice your triggers and when you struggle to hold your boundaries.
These are healing moments. Begin to create self-love rituals to heal the pain and emotional energy felt in that moment.
One time, when I was first beginning this process, one of my strong triggers was rejection. If I held a boundary and someone rejected me because of it, the little girl in me just wanted to be loved and seen. She wanted to shift into people-pleasing to receive the love she so coveted.
I put a self-love ritual in place of taking a healing bath when this trigger exposed deep aches and pain. My ritual served two purposes:
1. I gave myself the love, attention, and nurturing I desired and mothered my own inner child
2. Created a pattern interrupt of receiving love and being rewarded when holding my boundaries vs shifting into people-pleasing and self-sacrifice to pander for love.
I know I’ve said a lot here. These fours steps make up the Relationships-Boundary Matrix. As a quick re-cap
- Raise your standards
- Put criteria in place to help your discern when your standards are being met
- Set (and write down) boundaries to uphold your standards
- Create rituals to support you when triggers or old behavior tempt you to compromise your boundaries
Some of this may seem real simple. However, don’t underestimate simplicity.
Making significant changes in your life is sometimes called for. As we heal and evolve – our needs, wants, and desires do so as well. Some of us have been putting up with things that were never okay and some of us are just ready for a new level of joy, love, and freedom.
Wherever you are on the continuum know that it’s ok to ask more from your life and those that are willing and able to give you what you need will.