Do you feel like it’s hard to fight for yourself’? Do you often agree to things which don’t even interest you just so you will avoid conflict? Are you taking too many obligations upon yourself just to please others?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then it’s time to learn how to pronounce one of the shortest words in the dictionary. It is the word NO and the phenomenon of setting clear boundaries in your relationships with others.

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One of the ways to develop a healthy dose of selfishness, and your self-esteem in the process, is setting clear and healthy boundaries in your relationships with other people, with understanding and accepting the idea that the word NO can sometimes be the best and most efficient answer.

Setting healthy and clear boundaries is a clear message which tells others about the way you want them to treat you. By setting clear boundaries, you are defining yourself in relation to other people. If those boundaries are not clearly set, the message you are sending others is unclear. Creating clear and healthy boundaries is an important foundation for creating harmonious and well-defined relationships. Numerous arguments and misunderstandings between people are a result of poorly set boundaries.

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Setting boundaries may seem like a very unpleasant process at first. You may feel guilt, selfishness, and unpleasantness. After all, people are used to dealing with you the “old” way. People you interact with often basically don’t react to you as you are at this moment, but to the perception that they’ve formed about you.

Therefore I advise you to begin setting boundaries gradually, allowing both others and yourself the time to create a new form of relationship. During this process, try to be as gentle as possible both to yourself and to others. Some people won’t be able to put up with it, even if you’re extra sensitive in setting your boundaries, but I believe that you understand that this means that there is no room in your life for such people. It is your responsibility to communicate your new boundaries clearly. However, you are not responsible for their reaction to your new boundaries. Dare to let them go from your life and to create sufficient space for new harmonious and better defined relationships. You don’t need “friends” and “co-workers” who have no respect for your boundaries.

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As you develop your self-esteem, some people who are part of your life will simply never resonate with you anymore. Such people prefer the company of people with low self-esteem. Don’t let that burden you, and don’t judge or criticize them in any way. Bear in mind that we all have a path and a way we want to live our life and a way of relating with people that we interact with.

People who willingly try to control you and manipulate you in any way will try to test your boundaries, hoping that you might change your mind after all, because that is much easier than looking for new victims. Count on it and remain firm and determined. This is about your life, after all.

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Setting boundaries does not happen overnight. It is a process that takes time, as well as much contemplation on your part. The process of setting boundaries is not only about setting boundaries, but it also triggers the process of beginning to know yourself and your own desires better, as well as discovering the best ways to express yourself.

Make sure you don’t become too rigid and inflexible as you set boundaries, because in so doing you can cause more damage than it’s worth for both yourself and others.

Therefore, give yourself all the time you need and take the necessary steps only when you feel prepared to do so. Don’t begin setting boundaries just in order to create a perception of yourself as a “person with an attitude.” Bear in mind that setting boundaries is not a goal in itself, but that this process is always tied to the way in which you want to express and define yourself.

© 2010 РTomislav Tomic