There are some people who are quite etiquette-savvy. They know how to set a formal table to perfection—the dishes, the glasses, and the multiple utensils. I admit I know very little about the difference between a fish or dinner knife, or a cake and salad fork. Perhaps I need to take some time to become more etiquette-savvy myself. There are, however, some settings that are even more important—the Setting of Boundaries.

Boundaries are considered to be a dividing line, a protective shield, if you will, between what you will, or won’t do, accept or not accept. I know many people with little or no boundaries. They believe that by setting boundaries they are being selfish, mean, or self-centered. That is not necessarily so. Let’s take a look at the example below.

Let’s say you have a friend who is chronically late to everything. You always end up waiting for this friend, and on some occasions, have missed the event to which you were going. This is very upsetting to you since you strive for punctuality. So how would you set a boundary in a situation like this? Simple. You tell your friend, “We’re leaving at 2:00 p.m. If you’re not here, I’m leaving without you.” You might think this is harsh, but it really isn’t. You are just expressing your truth. Being late once in a while is not what I'm talking about; it's the chronic lateness.

Here are some steps to help you set those boundaries (PANKIE):

1) Pay Attention to your feelings. Maybe you’ve been asked to house sit every weekend and you’d rather do something else for a change. If you feel resentful, there’s a reason.
2) Notice what boundaries have been crossed. In the example above, you're always made to wait; your time is not respected, and you're forced to be late when you strive to be punctual.
3) Know how important boundary setting is. Don’t allow someone to take advantage of your kindness and/or good nature.
4) Ignore the backlash. When you set a boundary and stick to it, someone’s not going to be happy. They may try to make you feel guilty. Don’t!
5) Express yourself to the person. “Hey, I don’t mind house-sitting every once in a while, but not every weekend; I have other things I'd like to do.”

When you set boundaries you’re taking a personal stand; it’s a way to protect yourself. Remember, it doesn’t mean you’re being selfish or cruel.

It might be important to eat your salad with the correct fork, but it’s also important to have a mental set of guidelines that protect you from others abusing you—your time, your services, and your kindness.

Author's Bio: 

Rossana Snee is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She has worked with individuals, couples, and families. Her present focus is providing counseling advice during daily Periscope broadcasts (@askjoshsmom).

Visit her at askjoshsmom.com, https://www.facebook.com/askjoshsmom , Twitter (@askjoshsmom), and Instagram (@askjoshsmom). She endeavors to inspire and motivate, and to be a springboard for her reader's self-growth.

Author of, The Healing Alphabet: 26 Empowering Ways to Enrich Your Life.