Healthy relationships are one of the most extraordinary life experiences available to us, and they are life-giving.
Whether in business, everyday life, or romantic partnership, healthy relationships foster mutual joy and empowerment. It’s where individuals find both safety and the space to thrive. The question is, how does one find or create such a relationship?
The simple answer is to work on yourself. The healthier you are, the healthier relationships you will attract and cultivate. The first steps toward cultivating and finding healthy relationships include getting clear on your self-worth, setting healthy boundaries, and learning to forgive.
Strategies to Clarify Your Own Self-Worth
Do you know why Apple can charge a premium for their products?
Many computer experts will argue that PCs are better computers, but Apple has yet to decrease its prices. Why?
They know their worth.
If Apple lowered its prices, it would mean they were afraid of missing out on business. Instead, they keep their prices at a premium because they are confident of their worth and the value they provide with their products.
When people don’t have a clear sense of self-worth, they don’t set boundaries in relationships, which is the relational equivalent of “dropping their prices.” Unrealized self-worth leads to the fear of losing something. Instead of communicating boundaries that support who they are, people with a vague understanding of their worth settle. Eventually, settling leads to broken trust and dissatisfaction in relationships.
On the flip side, two important things happen when someone knows their self-worth:
- They are self-sufficient in experiencing personal joy and well-being.
- They are able to set boundaries that protect and provide for healthy relationships.
Chris Lee, one of the few guests featured over 15 times on The School of Greatness, believes that these four strategies for cultivating and becoming sure of your self-worth are the key to understanding why you are valuable.
Strategy #1: Take Inventory of Your Personal Success
Have you ever given someone a genuine compliment only to have them dismiss it?
That person was likely not confident in their self-worth. Someone who understands their self-worth receives a compliment and attributes their success to hard work or the people who supported them along the way. Additionally, people with clear self-worth work to achieve their accomplishments and honor the work required.
Contrary to popular opinion, receiving a compliment with gratitude is not a sign of unhealthy pride. Generally speaking, it’s representative of high self-worth.
Naming the things we are proud of accomplishing clarifies self-worth by reinforcing positive behavior, reminding us what we are capable of, and inspiring future ambitions. This is also an excellent first step to making sure you are self-sufficient when it comes to your joy and well-being.
Over to you: To begin understanding your self-worth, take a second to list five things you’re proud of yourself for accomplishing.
Strategy #2: Honor Your Personal Agreements
Have you ever said you would get up at 6:30 to work out but turned off your alarm in the morning instead?
With that seemingly meaningless action, you dishonored your personal agreement to work out before work. Dishonoring your agreement communicated to yourself that you are not a person of your word and began eroding your self-worth.
If that feels harsh, guess what? There’s good news!
Clarifying your self-worth is as simple as turning off your alarm in the morning — it’s just not as easy. Instead of turning off your alarm, get out of bed, put on your sneakers, and honor the agreement you made to yourself.
As you honor agreements to yourself, your self-worth will strengthen. The next step would be to honor your agreements with others and take responsibility when you break the agreement.
Clarity around your self-worth happens when you honor the agreements you make to yourself because you’re acknowledging and taking ownership of the power your words carry.
Strategy #3: Set and Accomplish Goals
How do you feel when someone gives you a gift — loved, thought of, wanted?
When you set and accomplish goals, it’s like giving a gift to yourself. You’re inadvertently saying, “Self, I love you. I thought of the kind of person you want to be and took action so you could be that person.” Tada! Your self-worth just increased.
A great place to start is with a small seven-day goal. Every day for seven days, do what you said you would, whether that’s cleaning all the dishes in your sink before you go to bed, working out before work, or reading for ten minutes.
Speaking of reading, Chris Lee says that committing to read a book is one of the best first goals you can set for three reasons; first, because most people want to read and finish a book. Secondly, because finishing a book is such a good feeling. And finally, reading a book gives you a physical object showing what you accomplished.
Strategy #4: Highlight Your Blessings
For example, a woman could be frustrated that she has big arms or be thankful that her big arms are strong enough to throw her children in the air or rearrange furniture all by herself. A man could be frustrated that he works a demanding job, or he could be grateful that his job allows him to take a whole week off every quarter — and still be paid!
There is a tremendous amount of good in our lives, but we miss much of this goodness when we don’t consciously call it out. Gratitude helps us see and value the good already in our lives. As a result, we end up seeing what’s good about ourselves, which clarifies self-worth!
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Steps for Setting Healthy Relationship Boundaries
What would happen if someone let their dog play in the backyard for the first time and they didn’t have a fence?
The dog would probably run away, and he may or may not be able to find his way back. Without a fence, there are no boundary lines, and without boundaries, trust is broken in two ways.
When the owner went to call their dog back inside, the dog was gone. Trust that the dog would stay in the back yard and happily come inside when called, was broken. Second, when the dog was ready to go back inside, he couldn’t get to the one who provides for him. Trust that the dog’s parent would always be there to care for him, was broken.
Boundaries are vital to any relationship because they establish trust. Without boundaries, relationships quickly end up full of anger, bitterness, and resentment. Building healthy boundaries in a relationship requires a clear vision and what Chris Lee calls “making the request.”
Step #1: Create Clear Vision
Have you ever asked someone where they wanted to eat, they told you to pick, and later they were upset about your decision?
It’s almost impossible for anyone to win in that situation. However, if they had told you they wanted Italian food or a burger, you would have had a much better chance of making them happy.
Creating boundaries without clarifying your relationship goals is like trying to choose a restaurant that will make someone happy without knowing what food they want to eat.
For this step, Chris Lee recommends journaling answers to these four questions:
- What do I want in this relationship?
- What do I NOT want in this relationship?
- What will work in this relationship?
- What will NOT work in this relationship?
Once you’ve clarified the kind of relationship you want and what will or will not work, you need to communicate your boundaries. (Humans are not mind-readers.)
Step #2: Make the Request
Are you familiar with the cars that start dinging if you try to lock them while the keys are still inside? The dinging communicates a boundary, “You can’t lock me if the keys are still inside because you won’t be able to get back in later!” To solve that problem, you grab the keys, lock the car, and all is well.
Healthy relationships require boundaries, but they also require communication of the boundaries. If you don’t know each other’s boundaries, you can and probably will cross them accidentally.
According to Chris Lee, clearly communicating boundaries includes three things:
- Communicate your goal for the relationship.
- Communicate what you can be counted on to contribute to the relationship.
- Communicate what you want from the other person.
While communicating boundaries in a relationship may feel intimidating, the long-term effects regularly include a happier and trust-filled relationship for both individuals.
A list of boundaries in a friendship could include:
- Timeliness of text responses
- How punctual you are for get-togethers
- Freedom to say “no,” make different plans, or have a preference
- Respect for personal values and religious beliefs
- How often you see each other or hang out
A list of boundaries in professional relationships could include:
- Work/life balance (not accepting or making work calls “off the clock”)
- How updates should be communicated (email, text, at meetings)
- Frequency of checking phones or scrolling social media during work hours
- Turning down tasks that are not your job description
- Keeping relationships with coworkers professional
A list of boundaries in a romantic relationship could include:
- Splitting or paying for dates
- Frequency of alone time and time together
- Limits on what partners can share about the other on social media
- How often you have sex
- Expectations related to in-laws
A list of boundaries you set for yourself could include:
- How much time you spend on social media daily
- When you’re going to go to bed each night
- What work-life balance looks for you
- Making time for joy and relaxation
- Choosing the kind of people you’re regularly going to spend time with
These are not exhaustive lists and won’t suit every person or relationship, but they’re a great place to start. Remember that the boundaries should support your goals for your relationships.
Learn to Forgive Yourself and Others
Have you ever slammed your hand on a wall or table when you were really upset?
Slamming your hand only hurts yourself. Doesn’t it? It doesn’t hurt the person who sent you the painful email, said the nasty words, or left you hanging. It hurts you.
That’s what unforgiveness is like — it hurts you. As long as you’re hanging onto anger toward someone, you’re giving that person energy. Worse yet, you’re keeping your painful past alive instead of moving beyond it and experiencing something better.
On the other hand, forgiveness is like ringing in the New Year! You let go of the past and look forward to the next thing with expectation.
True forgiveness includes three phases:
- Identify what hurt you. Write out or verbalize what happened, what was said, and who was involved that hurt you.
- Say, “I forgive you.” Words carry power, but they carry even more power when we speak them. Whether you can talk with the person who hurt you on the phone, in person, or not at all, say, “I forgive you.” Reminder: Sometimes, you are the one you need to forgive.
- Write out how this experience serves you. Conflict and hurt allow us to grow and learn, so specify how you will grow and achieve greatness because of this experience.
Forgiveness is essential to healthy boundaries in relationships because it allows you to set boundaries for the person you are and the relationships you want to experience at this moment. When you’re holding on to unforgiveness, part of us is still wrapped up in the past — the experience that hurt us.
You and the people you’re in a relationship with deserve to know and connect with your present self.
Start Setting Boundaries in Your Relationships
Boundaries are not stone walls that keep everything out — they are fences with a gate.
They keep good things in, bad things out, and allow new good things to enter. When you are clear about your self-worth, how you want your relationships to work, and communicate your boundaries, you create a safe space for everyone involved to thrive!
If you’re interested in more boundary-setting information and motivational tips, be sure to follow Chris Lee’s social media for more information. And check out this Greatness.com article for information about setting healthy boundaries with your parents!