5 steps to setting a healthy boundary

. 2 min read
The All Mental Health Team

1. Identify the situation.

Your emotions are your first clue. Usually, you're setting a boundary because you're feeling uneasy. Anxiety, anger, frustration, and overwhelm are all great indicators that some situation isn't serving your best interest. So, listen in and notice how you feel.

And then dig a little deeper to understand why. What's the situation? What's the context here?

For example:

I'm feeling angry.
I'm angry because I'm really trying to move on, but my ex keeps randomly texting me. Each time I get a text, I go into a negative spiral.

2. Get clear on what you have control over (and don't).

That's valid. Sounds frustating. So, what can you do? It's helpful to get clear on what you can and can't do.

So, in this example:

You can't make your ex be more considerate. You don't have control over their daily actions and what texts they do or don't send.

But you do have control over your communication, so you can let them know how you've been feeling and what you'd like to see change.

And you also have control over how intensely this feeling affects you (so, once you notice you feel really fired up getting a text, you can go for a quick walk, call a friend to vent, listen to a guided meditation, count your breaths, etc.)

If it really came down to it, you could also consider other options, like snoozing notifications from them, or blocking their number.

3. Decide on one action to take.

Okay, so let's look at the list of what you can control.

Pick one thing.

In this situation, we're going to start with communication.

4. Is someone else involved? If so, plan and communicate.

You'll want to be as specific as possible.

Yes, my ex is involved. So, I'm going to make a plan to communicate what I expect from them.

This last part is key. When communicating a boundary, it's very important to set expectations. That's how you (and the other person) will know if the boundary is being respected.

The plan might be:

Next time they text, I'm going to respond with a firm message saying that I don't want to be contacted, and that it's negatively affecting me. I'll also mention that if they continue to do so, I'll be blocking their number. Having time and space to heal is really important right now, and I hope they can respect this.

5. Check in.

Check in and notice how you feel. That might have been a difficult conversation. Also check in on the situation in, say, a week, two weeks... Is this boundary being respected? Do you need to communicate again, or try something else? Does it feel out of your control to the point that you need to take a different action?

Setting a boundary is a very healthy way to respond to anger. Here are a few other things you can try. You can also download our free app to get all the articles you love at your fingertips.