Advice I Give My Friends That I Should Listen To: NO-vember Edition

If you’re like me, you give great advice to the people that you care about. If you’re also like me, you don’t listen to your advice, despite how phenomenal it is! I have implemented a social media program for the Wellness and Prevention Peer Education Team this week on Instagram and Twitter. I have called it “NO-vember: Setting Personal and Physical Boundaries” because it involves language, I think is important to learn and keep in mind. With finals coming up soon and being in the middle of a pandemic, it is crucial to be able to advocate for yourself and to learn to respect other people’s boundaries. Today we are going to go through different phrases for effective boundary setting language — language I know I should be using too.

Setting personal and physical boundaries is more than okay. You should feel comfortable standing up for yourself because you and your needs are important. As Anna Taylor once said, “love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” It is a fundamental part of life to be able to establish and maintain boundaries, so this blog serves to help fellow students on finding their preferred language to use.

Why Setting Boundaries is Important:

Boundaries set basic guidelines for how others treat you.

  • Boundaries help conserve emotional energy.
  • Boundaries can ensure that relationships can be mutually respectful, appropriate, and caring.
  • Boundaries protect you from being manipulated, used, or violated by others.
  • Boundaries create an absence of emotional, physical, or verbal abuse.
  • Boundaries help validate emotions.
  • Boundaries create a sense of urgency in respecting your time.
  • Boundaries allow you to make yourself the priority.

“Boundaries define us. they define what is me and what is not me. a boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom.” — Henry Cloud

Personal Boundaries

Setting personal boundaries is a form of self-care. You should respect your time and others should respect your time too. It is okay to advocate for yourself. Doreen Virtue once said, “boundaries are a part of self-care. they are healthy, normal, and necessary.” Your personal boundaries will help you live a happy life.

Steps in Setting Personal Boundaries:

Step 1: Define. Identify desired boundary.

Step 2: Communicate. Say what you need.

Step 3: Stay simple. Don’t overexplain.

Step 4: Set consequences. Say why it’s important if you feel it’s necessary.

Tips for Setting Personal Boundaries:

  • Examine the boundaries that already exist.
  • Do not feel the need to explain why you are setting a boundary.
  • Use “I statements” i.e. “You need to stop talking to me while I do homework.” vs. “Can I talk when I am finished with this homework?”

Examples of Effective Language:

  • “I can only stay for an hour.”
  • “Do you have time to chat today?”
  • “I would love to help, but I would be overcommitting myself. Is there another time?”
  • “Sure! I am happy to share my dress with you. Just a heads-up, I do need it back by Friday.”
  • “When we talk about this, we don’t get very far. I think it is a good idea to avoid the conversation right now.”
  • “I really can’t talk about that right now. It isn’t the right time.”
  • “I’m okay with regularly texting, but I don’t want to text multiple times in an hour.”
  • “I would love to hang out, but I really need a day to myself.”

“Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices.” — Gerard Manley Hopkins

Physical Boundaries:

People have different levels of comfort in terms of physical touch. Especially during the pandemic, it is important to tell others what you are comfortable and uncomfortable with. Brené Brown is known for describing, “daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” You should not put aside your needs for the wants of others. It is not selfish when you come first.

Steps in Setting Physical Boundaries:

Step 1: Define. Identify desired boundary.

Step 2: Communicate. Say what you need.

Step 3: Stay simple. Don’t overexplain.

Step 4: Set consequences. Say why it’s important.

Tips for Setting Physical Boundaries:

  • Know your values and limits.
  • Listen to your emotions.
  • Give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.
  • Consider your past, present, and
  • Future to make self-care a priority.

Examples of Effective Language:

  • “I am really tired. I need to sit down now.”
  • “I am not a big hugger. I am a handshake person.”
  • “I need to eat. I am going to go grab something.”
  • “I am allergic to [insert here], so we can’t have that in our home.”
  • “No. I don’t want you to touch me like that.”
  • “Don’t go into my room without asking first.”
  • “May I have a minute to myself before I go back to the group please?”
  • “Could we please put six feet between us?”

“Healthy boundaries are not walls. They are gates and fences that allow you to enjoy the beauty of your own garden.” — Lydia Hall

Responding to Boundary Setting

In addition to setting boundaries, it is important to acknowledge and accept other people’s boundaries. You want to be respected, so you should respect others in the same manner. Melody Beattie said, “much of the time, the things we feel guilty about are not our issues. Another person behaves inappropriately or in some way violates our boundaries. We challenge the behavior, and the person gets angry and defensive. then we feel guilty.” You should be able to ask for the space and time you need without fearing how someone will react. In the same way, you should try your best to foster an environment of respect where someone else feels comfortable to set a boundary with you. Mutual respect is essential to good relationships with family, friends, significant others, and even strangers invading your zone of comfort.

Steps in Responding to Boundary Setting:

Step 1: Listen to what they are saying.

Step 2: Understand what the guideline is and ask clarifying questions if necessary.

Step 3: Acknowledge that you will do your best to respect their boundaries.

Step 4: Respect them how you would respect your own boundaries.

Tips for Responding to Boundary Setting:

  • Remember that people have limits in the same way you do.
  • Verbally acknowledging what the other person is saying can be incredibly validating.
  • They do not mean to come across as aggressive when they are advocating for themselves.
  • You would want someone to positively react to your boundaries so remain respectful.

Examples of Effective Language:

  • “I understand where you are coming from and will do the best I can to respect your boundaries.”
  • “Thank you for expressing what you are comfortable with.”
  • “Could you please explain what kinds of actions you would be comfortable with?”
  • “Thank you for sharing this with me. I will be sure to avoid [insert action] in the future.”
  • “I will gladly give you the space you need as soon as you let me know you need it.”
  • “I will not do [insert action] now that I know it bothers you.”
  • “Your time is important. I understand you will help me when you can!”
  • “You are entitled to your feelings. I will try more actively to keep this in mind when I do things.”

“Just as we expect others to value our boundaries, it’s equally important for us to respect the boundaries of others.” — Laurie Buchanan

Drugs and Alcohol Blur Consent and Boundaries

Drugs and alcohol can blur what consent is. It’s a good rule of thumb to continue checking in with your partner about how they feel. One yes does not continue for every action. You should check in regularly because one “no” or silence means stop. As Anne Lamont asserts, “no is a complete sentence.” The instant someone says no, it should be respected. Being under the influence does not mean that consent changes. Drugs and alcohol complicate how consent can be given and received because of the level of intoxication. It is always safest to assume that nothing physical is okay. I would much rather someone be upset that I respected them and their state of being and chose to do nothing, rather than unintentionally take advantage of them.

How Drugs and Alcohol Blur Consent and Boundaries:

  • Drugs and alcohol hinder the ability to give and receive consent.
  • Drugs and alcohol can make it difficult to maintain previously set boundaries.
  • Drugs and alcohol are not an excuse for disrespecting previously set boundaries.
  • Drugs and alcohol do not absolve you of the responsibility of your actions.

Tips for Maintaining Boundary Setting with Drugs and Alcohol:

  • Have regular check-ins with your partner whether it is just holding hands or hugging — regardless, consent is essential.
  • Respect a “no” and view silence as a “no.”
  • It is important to be aware of your limits and know that consent is always necessary.
  • Having a trusted sober friend can help with safety and ensure your boundaries are being respected.

Examples of Effective Language:

  • “No drugs or alcohol are allowed around me or in the house.”
  • “If you drink or smoke, I prefer we do not have intimate contact tonight.”
  • “I do not think you are sober enough to get consent so let’s just watch a movie tonight.”
  • “I will give you more space while you are intoxicated.”
  • “Drugs change your ability to consent so I will walk you home.”
  • “We did not talk about this before, and you are unable to consent now, so we can wait.”
  • “I do not want to take advantage of your level of intoxication. I am not comfortable with more than holding hands.”
  • “I do not want our first kiss to be while we are under the influence.”

“Boundaries are the lines we draw that mark off our autonomy and that of other people, that protect our privacy and that of others. boundaries allow for intimate connection without dissolving or losing one’s sense of self.” — Amy Bloom

I am someone who HATES confrontation, but I fully understand the need to set boundaries. As a busy person with two jobs and classes — not to mention clubs and extracurriculars — I am also learning where, when, and how to set boundaries so that my time is respected. I am also learning from others how to respond to boundary setting. Sometimes people won’t be receptive of what you’re saying and that’s okay because you can’t control other people, but keep in mind that you are doing a good thing for yourself!

In conclusion, I hope you learned something and that you can implement some of this language into your everyday life. Remember: You are important. You are valued. You deserve respect. And it’s okay to ask for what you need sometimes.

Until next time — Katie :)

We are committed to advancing the overall health and wellbeing of the students at Marquette University through comprehensive wellness services and programming.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store