05/28/2015 05:12 pm ET Updated May 28, 2016

The Importance of Having Boundaries in Your Relationships

Too often people mistake kindness for weakness.

It's a trap you don't want to fall into. Most of us want to be liked, help others and be generous. That's fine as long as you remain aware of your boundaries. It's easy when you are going out of your way for someone to second guess yourself or get guilted into doing or giving more of yourself than you should.

The meaning of boundaries is to know when you are being taken advantage of. We may find ourselves in unhealthy relationships, the wrong job and life situations.

Life can quickly get out of control if you don't stop people from being controlling, criticizing, pushy, demanding, abusive, invasive, pleading, or even smothering you with kindness. It's your responsibility to speak up.

It's difficult to set boundaries when you are not sure where they are for yourself. For many people, saying no is hard. Too often we put others' needs and feelings before ours because that is how we were raised.

Maybe we don't know ourselves and are not sure where that line is between giving of ourselves and being taken advantage of.
We don't feel we have the right to say no.

We don't want to hurt someones feelings or risk a relationship.

Without boundaries, the message we learn is that our own needs and feelings don't count. We get frustrated and angry that our boundaries are violated yet we are unable to express what, exactly, our boundaries are.

You have a right to privacy. You have the right to say "no." You have the right to be addressed with courtesy and respect, to change your mind, to ask for help, to be left alone.

How often do you say "yes" when you'd like to say "no?"

It's not easy to learn to set boundaries for yourself, but you will feel a lot better about your life when you do. It takes time, support, and relearning to be able to set effective boundaries.

Remember, setting boundaries isn't selfish. It builds self-esteem. But it usually takes encouragement to make yourself a priority and to persist.