Setting a boundary is already a challenge.
Perhaps you spent hours mulling over what to say, when and how. You’re worried about how the person will react.
And you know that you have to take care of yourself. You have to speak up for yourself. Because if you don’t, who will?
So you finally find the courage to communicate your boundary in a kind yet firm way—whew, done! Your heart is pounding.
But, uh-oh… the person got defensive. They’re upset, angry or cold. They invalidate your experience, question your decision or ignore your boundary altogether.
What to do when someone disrespects your boundaries?
Changing others is ineffective. We can only control our actions.
That said, you can reaffirm your boundary. One of my readers prefers to say, Okay, thanks for your opinion, but this is what’s healthy for me.
State your boundary 2 to 3 times, if need be.
If you’d like, you can use one of these phrases:
- Let’s talk about that.
- That’s not okay with me.
- I’ll get back to you.
- That’s not going to work for me.
- Let’s revisit this another time.
Another reader of mine stays silent and lets the other person sit with their feelings for a while.
Yes, it’s frustrating because they should’ve just understood the first time around. And no, you don’t have to reaffirm your boundary if you don’t want to—you’ve already done your part.
When I get backlash from others, I try to remember that it’s not personal. The other person’s reaction isn’t our responsibility. Boundaries are about focusing on ourselves and what we will do in response to unhealthy behavior.
So at this point, you can even hang up the phone. You can leave the room. Leaving the room is a boundary.
You don’t have to stay around and tolerate their criticism. If they get abusive, you may need to protect yourself or get professional help.
Respect yourself by following through with your boundary. Otherwise, it’ll be futile.
Actions speak louder than words.
Focus on your experience
Your power lies in your inner experience.
Ideally, our friends and family would empathize with us and thank us for speaking up.
But if that doesn’t happen, it’s essential to validate our thoughts and emotions and give ourselves the support we’re seeking.
Contemplate these questions:
- What thoughts are racing in your mind?
- What stories are you telling yourself?
- What are you feeling right now?
- Where do you feel that emotion in your body?
Then, plug your answers into EFT Tapping statements to acknowledge your experience and immediately release any related stress:
- Even though I can’t believe they disrespected my boundary, I choose to accept myself.
- Even though no one ever listens to my needs, I choose to accept myself.
- Even though I feel hurt and angry in my chest, I choose to accept myself.
Tap on each of these statements until you feel calmer.
As you’re tapping, you’ll help your body switch from the stress response to the relaxation response—meaning, you’ll feel safe, grounded and comforted.
As a result, your amygdala, the part of your brain that manages the fight-or-flight response, won’t control your actions. You’ll slow down the automatic cycle of negative thoughts and activate your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that allows clear, rational thinking and empathy.
When you show up for yourself in this way, you’re soothing parts of yourself that may have felt disrespected for a long time. Perhaps your inner child or inner teen is finally receiving the support they need.
Sometimes, this emotional work brings painful memories to the surface—other similar moments when you felt misunderstood and abandoned.
Tap on those memories too. Or if you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or overwhelmed doing so, you can contact me for support.
Present triggers are often opportunities to heal old wounds and reclaim your power.
EFT Tapping is a powerful tool to help us feel calm and grounded as we speak our truth.
Having the best boundaries strategy won’t be very helpful if our body, mind and spirit aren’t aligned. As we address the roots of people-pleasing on all levels, it becomes much easier to stand up for ourselves and cultivate healthy relationships.
If you’re struggling with people disrespecting your boundaries, please know that it’s not your fault. Setting and maintaining boundaries is a lifelong practice.
We’re all learning how to advocate for ourselves. And for those who have been doing this for a while, we deepen the lessons and enrich our understanding of who we are.
Each time someone disrespects your boundaries, you can choose to reaffirm your limits, take care of yourself, validate your experience and ultimately, recognize your own innate value.
You deserve to be loved and respected as much as anyone else.
P.S. I’m offering free EFT Tapping sessions in exchange for a short interview. Learn more and book your session.
Annie Moussu is a certified EFT Tapping Master Practitioner helping women build confidence, set boundaries & enjoy healthy relationships. Get her free EFT meditation & guide for people-pleasing.
Further reading to deal with someone who disrespects boundaries: