How to set boundaries with someone who is hurting you emotionally, verbally, spiritually or physically

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes  

“Nothing changes if nothing changes, and if I keep doing what I’ve always done, I’ll keep getting what I’ve always got, and will keep feeling what I’ve always felt.” – Unknown

Change is difficult for most of us.  If you are in a situation where someone is hurting you emotionally, verbally, spiritually or physically by overstepping your personal and/or internal boundaries, and you keep having the same conversations over and over again with this person with the same results, it may be time to change your focus.

It may be time to figure out exactly what your personal boundaries are and begin to enforce those.  This could relate to a boyfriend, spouse, mother, father, sibling or friend.

What are personal boundaries?

 Your personal boundaries are those things that cause your inner red light to start flashing, “Warning, Security Breach!” and the internal bells and sirens begin going off.

You can feel it in your spirit that something isn’t right and it is causing you fear, anxiety, anger, hurt, betrayal and other negative feelings.  Over time, you may have begun to ignore some of these bells and whistles, which causes more negative feelings inside.

The negative feelings occur when you aren’t being treated with love,  and you aren’t loving yourself or the other person by allowing the behavior to continue.  So, what can you do to change the situation?  You can start by firming up the boundaries that have been being crossed.

Here are some suggestions on how you may begin to do that:

  • Defining your boundaries – The best way to understand and define your personal boundaries is to sit down with pen and paper. Write out what you believe your boundaries are and what exactly is the nature of the unacceptable behavior that is crossing those boundaries.Be specific. “When you do ______, I feel violated/hurt/angry/betrayed/fearful because I feel that this is unacceptable behavior/I am worth being treated with respect and love/this is unhealthy behavior, etc”.  Write out as many scenarios or examples that you can think of while naming your feeling that is associated with a behavior.
  • Establish your boundaries – You are the only one that can establish your boundaries.  You will have to let the other person know that things are changing on your part, regardless of whether or not their behavior stays the same. “I will no longer tolerate/accept _____(name the unacceptable behavior)”.
  • Name the consequence –  The next step is to name your consequence if the boundary is crossed.  Just like defining the boundaries…. establishing them and naming the consequences when they are crossed, has to be what you are able to live with and enforce.  If you can’t enforce the consequences you are laying out, the situation will get worse.  The person will see it as an empty threat and you will lose more ground and more of yourself in the situation. So, be sure you are ready and when you are, it should sound something like this, “If ______behavior continues, I will ______(leave the house, go somewhere safe, make you leave the house, call the police, no longer accept your calls, no longer be in a relationship with you).  Again, only you can establish your boundaries but be sure not to set yourself up to be the little boy/girl that cried wolf.  If you have been expecting them to keep their promises all along, then you have to show that you can keep yours. Say what you mean and above all, mean what you say.
  • Make your boundaries and consequences known –  At this point, if it is safe, you’ll need to make your intentions known.  If you are in an unsafe environment, please click here. If you consider your situation to be safe, then the best route is to establish your boundaries and make the other person aware of your new plan.  Do it in writing and present it to them. Be sure to make a copy for yourself and post it somewhere that you can see it daily. This serves as your written agreement to follow through with your actions. Although this isn’t a divorce from the person, it is a set of rules and boundaries that you are now committed to and are serious about.  If they choose not to abide by them, they are choosing the consequence associated with the action.
  • Be willing to accept the push back – this really should be at the top of the list because, until you are ready to take back your life and your boundaries, none of the other steps will matter.  And this isn’t something you can force.  It requires a lot of prayer and reflection to get to the place where you are willing to go to any lengths to reclaim what is rightfully yours…love and respect.

It may mean you aren’t in the most comfortable living situation (or they aren’t) as you are now. But how many of us are living in a “captive” situation, where we feel we are being held against our will because we see no other choice?

Please know that you do have choices and you are not alone.  You can change your boundaries and what you’re willing to accept or not accept.

You can decide that you are worth more than the status quo. You can decide that you are worth it, even if they don’t think you are. You do have choices.

But remember that your safety always comes first and if you feel unsafe, get outside help first.  That could be in the form of another friend or law enforcement, only you know what your situation entails.

No matter what, you won’t hear this message until you are ready. No one can “make you ready “.  You have to get there on your own, in your own time.  Be gentle with yourself and love yourself because no one else can love you until you do. ❤️❤️❤️



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