It also happens to you that sometimes your limits happen and you do not realize?
What is a limit?
In psychology, a limit implies treating yourself with affection and respecting both yourself and others.
The word that better explains this concept is Assertiveness.
Being assertive is a social skill that consists of being clear about and defending your rights and your ideas, while respecting other people’s rights and ideas.
Setting a limit doesn’t mean imposing your ideas by force or by “authority”.
Typically, people say “because I’m your boss/ father/brother/mother/etc.”
Neither is manipulating other people to do what you want.
Why can’t I set limits?
There are many reasons why it can be difficult to set limits.
- Fear: of abandonment, arguments, hurting others, rejection, consequences, etc.
- Lack of confidence: not trusting yourself to express what you think or feel
- Lack of strategy: not knowing what to say or do
- Ignoring that people are trespassing your limits.
Regarding the latter.
Have you ever experienced…
- … being talked to or treated badly?
- …disregard for your opinions?
- … nasty comments?
- …bad looks?
- …devaluation of your work?
- … critical comments about how you’re dressed, your make-up or body?
If this has happened to you and you didn’t react, it means that you’re not associating these behaviors with someone crossing your limits.
You feel bad and you don’t know why.
Your mind doesn’t tell you that those behaviors are NOT appropriate.
And why don’t you see it?
Well, perhaps because you grew up in an environment where your parents did that too.
So, you identify certain behaviors as “normal” when they aren’t.
You might also believe that:
“if you say no, you’re a bad person” or
“you’ll be abandoned” or
“they won’t love you anymore”.
I grew up in a family where my father, due to his alcoholism, abused us psychologically, devaluing many of my actions.
My mother didn’t identify my father’s behaviors as “serious” either.
Because in her time, “men were always right”
And women weren’t heard much.
That’s how my mother had grown up.
So, what do you think happened when I started having relationships where I was disrespected?
Here’s a story.
My first boyfriend was a very jealous person.
I was 16 and he was 18, so you can get an idea of what emerged from two insecure teenagers.
The fact is that, at the time, we argued about everything.
- If I wore a “short” skirt
- If he thought, I’d looked at another boy “more than necessary”
- If I smiled at someone else…
But this was just because of his personality or insecurity.
Apart from that, he was a very nice person.
So, when we started arguing over nonsense, I always listened to his arguments.
And, of course, I defended mine.
Did he cross my limits?
Why did I stay there, listening and “fighting” to “be right”?
Because at that time,
I didn’t understand anything.
I didn’t know what setting limits meant.
And I DIDN’T acknowledge that I had to set my own limits.
How to set limits on other people:
My first recommendation, if you haven’t already done so, is to download my free guide, where I explain a 3-step process to learn how to say no.
Secondly, I summarize some actions you’ll have to do.
1. To define the personal limits
This consists of:
- defining what you’re willing to accept and what you aren’t
- What you like and what you don’t
- How you want to be treated and how you don’t
- When you need to stop someone else
Often, without having thought it before, already we know what we accept and what not.
But others, we do not know it, and it is important to define it not to take us themselves to us, to extreme situations.
Once you’ve defined these limits, you’ll need to decide what actions to take if they’re crossed.
- If this happens, I’ll do this.
- If this other thing happens, I’ll act like this.
In some situations, you won’t even have to think about it as it’ll happen automatically, but
What if it doesn’t?
Then, I recommend…
2. Identifying situations where you need to set limits
I’m sure you feel uncomfortable in certain situations.
So, begin to identify each of these situations and look for what makes you feel bad.
- Is it people?
- Is it a belief?
- Is it the situation?
Whatever it is, if you feel bad it means something’s happening.
You’ll need to define a limit and an action.
3. Listen to your body’s alarms and emotions
Your body tells you when something “isn’t right”.
So, when if you’re unsure whether your limits have been crossed, you can always listen to your body.
Generally, if things aren’t too serious, you begin to feel some discomfort.
It’s an indefinite discomfort or uneasiness,
because you can’t put your finger on what’s causing it.
You might also feel some pain in your:
- solar plexus (center just below the chest)
Another way your body warns you, is through your emotions.
In some situations when your limits are crossed, you may feel:
And when your limits have been crossed too many times, you may feel anxious.
Here your body sends you the following alarms:
- Increased heartbeat
- shortness of breath
Be that as it may, you need to listen to the signals that your body is sending because it is sending you a message.
And you need to listen to it to react.
4. Act and set limits
You’ve defined your limits.
You know what situations to look out for.
You recognize the signals that your body sends to warn you that something is “wrong”
And you’ve decided what action or behavior to take when someone crosses your limits.
Well, if you know this, but at the moment of truth don’t implement them, it won’t do you any good.
A limit is associated with an action or consequence.
If there isn’t one, there’s no limit.
So now you know what to do.
I’ll try to explain it with some examples.
Imagine that a person begins to devalue you and talks disrespectfully to you, setting a limit could look like:
- telling them to talk to you differently and not be disrespectful
- informing them that if they continue talking that way, you won’t talk to them anymore
- if it continues, leave
Sometimes people want to “be right” and demand that you think or do what they do.
In this case, setting a limit can simply mean asking them to understand that you think or have different values and that everyone has the right to have their way of thinking and acting.
Or perhaps someone wants to do something that you don’t want to do, like have sex or perform certain actions, lie, cheat or hurt another person.
In this case, setting a limit can mean saying no and sticking with your decision.
But it doesn’t have to be that extreme, it can even be the case that a person wants you to do everything when you both have to do it, they’re crossing your limits, so in this case setting limits means refusing to do what is their responsibility.
When the one disrespecting you is you
It’s not always others who disrespect you.
I know a lot of people who do this first.
And how do you disrespect yourself?
Well for example:
- when you intend to do or say something and when the time comes you don’t
- when you devalue or despise yourself
- when you spend the day criticizing your body, yourself, what you do…
- when you constantly push yourself to the limit but won’t push others
You give yourself a thousand excuses to justify those behaviors,
but it’s still disrespectful to you.
There’s a little voice or mental tyrant in your mind that loves disrespecting you.
In this case, you’ll need to follow the steps I explained before, but with yourself.
Here’s an example:
Imagine that you want to be effective at work and tend to demand a lot of yourself.
After a while, that demand becomes more and more overwhelming.
Finally, you emotionally explode,
because you can’t withstand your own pressure.
Example of setting a limit on yourself
- Define the limit: When you demand 100% or 200% from yourself constantly and you don’t take any break, you’re taking yourself into an extreme situation.
Therefore, setting yourself a limit could mean:
Try to give 100% in emergencies, but then reduce your pace and personal demands.
And including breaks to recover.
- Identify the situations: In this case, the risky situation is work or a specific project.
- Identify the alarms: Imagine that you’ve been giving everything for 4 or 5 days, and despite having set yourself a limit, you’re disregarding it, and you start to feel bad.
Perhaps you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, irritable, sad, anxious… or feel chest pains.
Once you realize it, you need to remind yourself of the limits you defined
and identify the situation in which you’re NOT implementing them.
- Set limits: Since you’ve realized that you’ve crossed your own limit, you can react.
You could, for example:
- give yourself some breaks to regain your strength
- give yourself spaces to actively do nothing,
- introduce some leisure and enjoyment activities into your week
- reduce your effectiveness to 60-80%
What happens when you set limits?
If you respect and respect your limits, others also will do it.
If someone spends your limits and you make it meet acting of a certain way, or putting a consequence, you are teaching to this person how it must treat you.
Knowing which are your limits it will protect you from emotional unnecessary explosions.
When you are capable of putting limits, that is to say, of taking decisions and actions when they are not fulfilled, you will feel surer of yourself.
And it will increase your auto-esteem and your strength.
If you don’t allow others to cross your limits, don’t tolerate it from yourself either.
Some limits are easy to set, and you’ll need to practice others, so take this practice very seriously.