How to get Strong:

Step One: Self Awareness 

 The first step in learning to set boundaries is self-awareness. For example, pay close attention to the situations when you lose energy, feel a knot in your stomach, or want to cry. Identifying where you need more space, self-respect, energy or personal power is the first step. 

 Another way to identify your boundaries is by completing these three sentences with at least 10 examples. 

 1) People may not ___________. (Click for examples on Opra.com ) 

 2) I have a right to ask for ____________. (Click for examples on Opra.com) 

 3) To protect my time and energy, it's OK to ____________. (Click for examples on Opra.com) 

  

Step Two: Setting Your Boundaries 

 1) Start setting simple but firm boundaries with a graceful or neutral tone. This will feel uncomfortable at first, but as you take care of yourself, the personal power you gain will make it easier. 

 2) Be sure to have support in place before and after each conversation. If you can't find support from a friend or family member, you may be successful finding a friend online. 

 3) Vent any strong emotions with your partner before having your boundary conversation. 

Use simple, direct language. 

 Examples:  

To set a boundary with an angry person:

You may not yell at me. If you continue, you have to leave the room. 

To set a boundary with personal phone calls at work:

I've decided to take all personal calls in the evening in order to get my work done. I will need to call you later. 

To say no to extra commitments:

Although this organization is important to me, I need to decline your request for volunteer help in order to honor my family's needs. 

To set a boundary with someone who is critical:

It's not okay with me that you comment on my weight. I'd like to ask you to stop. 

To buy yourself time when making tough decisions:

I'll have to sleep on it, I have a policy of not making decisions right away.

To back out of a commitment:

I know I agreed to head up our fundraising efforts, but after reviewing my schedule, I now realize that I won't be able to give it my best attention. I'd like to help find a replacement by the end of next week.

To set a boundary with an adult child who borrows money:

I won't be lending you money anymore. I love you and you need to take responsibility for yourself.

When setting boundaries, there is no need to defend, debate, or over-explain your feelings. Be firm, gracious and direct. 

When faced with resistance, repeat your statement or request. 

Back up your boundary with action. Stay strong. If you give in, you invite people to ignore your needs.

 

Step Three: Strengthen Your Internal Boundaries 

 One of the reasons that women take things personally is because they have weak internal boundaries. An internal boundary is like an invisible shield that prevents you from taking in a comment without checking it out first. 

For example, when someone accuses you of being arrogant, stop and consider the statement before taking it in. When you use this internal shield, especially with difficult people like an ex-spouse or critical parent, it gives you time to ask yourself the following three questions:

How much of this is true about me? 

How much of this is about the other person? 

What do I need to do (if anything) to regain my personal power or stand up for myself? 

This last question is very important. Too often women neglect to stand up for themselves by avoiding confrontation and end up weakening their internal shield, making it harder to set boundaries at all. So, if someone offends you, it may be necessary to let them know in order to protect and strengthen your internal boundaries. 

   

10 simple ideas to empower women (Opra.com) 

As a woman, here are some simple tips and how men can help.  

Value yourself, and relationships where you are an equal.

In any relationship, there is going to be give-and-take as situations and circumstances change, but you should also feel that, overall, your value in the partnership is equal to that of your partner's.

Learn how to own your voice and assert your opinions. 

Pay attention to how women have been socialized to defer to men in conversations. For all you men, avoid interrupting, talking over, discrediting or dismissing a woman's opinion. Studies show that women are more frequently interrupted than men. Over the course of many conversations, they get the message that what they have to say is not necessarily as compelling or valued as what men have to say. 

Identify words and language that communicate gender bias.

Make an effort to consciously change the language so it draws attention to areas where bias is apparent. Two places to look for gender bias include position titles that infer gender and school/employer policies that infer gender. 

Speak up about sexist jokes or sexist images.

Promote sexual harassment policies in your workplace. 

Focus on the person instead appearance.

To foster a healthier self-image, compliment yourself or other woman for achievements, thoughts, and actions.  

Call attention to media deception.

Expose and understand unrealistic media images for what they are: retouched, computer-manipulated photos of models-a group that makes up only a tiny subset of the population. 

Learn how to ask and negotiate for wages and raises.

Know the worth of your job. Education is your best defense. Research everything you can think of to find the competitive salary for your job in your region -- employment surveys, libraries, professional organizations, peers. For a raise, you need evidence to show your boss that you deserve it. One way to document your contribution to your company is to keep a job diary. Every week, or even every day, write down what you did and how it helped meet the company's objectives. Keep lists or spreadsheets, because managers like to count things. Remember that attributes such as positive attitude, willingness to put in overtime, and quality of work, are essential. Include a few good stories about your work in the diary to illustrate what you added. 

Think about, plan and prepare for career advancement.

Mentors are a great asset. If your company doesn't offer clear career ladders, research or find a seminar to help you understand your industry and opportunities. 

Encourage risk taking.

People develop self-reliance when they're given the space to solve problems and make mistakes in the process. 

Know and be able to manage your finances.

Start saving for retirement immediately in a career - it will grow to much more than the same amount if you wait 10 years to start saving. And keep saving - Social Security doesn't provide the equivalent of a "living wage" for retirement years. Women statistically live about six years longer than men, and run a higher risk of living in poverty as they get older.