You have the right to set personal boundaries for your space, belongings, time, feelings, thoughts, ethics, culture, and religion. Boundaries can feel uncomfortable to set but the tips below will help.
Express Your Feelings
Before setting a boundary make sure that the person you are setting a boundary with understands your concerns. While you may assume that they already know you are feeling uncomfortable, they may sincerely have no idea. It is important not to place blame, so stick to how you feel using the “When you” “ I feel” model. If it’s a heated topic that the two of you have vastly different viewpoints on, like politics or religion, you can ask to agree to disagree and express that further debate is not productive.
Be Crystal Clear
If expressing how you feel does not resolve your need for boundaries it’s time to get more specific. Determine what you need by considering what is ok and what is not ok. This doesn’t always mean taking a topic off the table. For example, “It’s ok for you to share your political beliefs with my kids, but it’s not ok for you to criticize my political beliefs.” But there are certainly times to take topics of the table. For example, sending out an email letting family know that this will be a politics-free Thanksgiving, birthday party, or family gathering.
When setting your boundaries you must also express your consequences. For example, “I am really looking forward to spending a joyous day with loved ones this Thanksgiving. However, if a political debate begins, I will have to ask all involved to leave. This would truly break my heart. Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude so let’s focus on what we have in common instead of our differences.” Another consequence is to limit your time with the person who does not respect your boundaries.
Setting personal boundaries may be uncomfortable at first but with practice it gets easier.