Mistreatment may start in the schoolyard, but it definitely doesn't end there. Unfortunately, a lot of adults still deal with people being inconsiderate, and, in turn, hurting their feelings. A lot of the time, these messy situations start with someone who doesn't know where to draw the line. So if you're wondering
what to do when someone crosses your boundaries, look no further than these psychologist- and life coach-approved tips.
First, it's important not to beat yourself up for having a strong reaction to someone being hostile toward you. It's perfectly natural if your confidence has taken a hit. "In essence, mean behavior is often
abusive in nature," clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly tells Bustle. And while you may not feel that the person crossing your boundaries has become fully abusive, you may still be able to learn something about your reaction from looking at the interaction from this lens.
"When we're exposed to
mean behavior over a long period of time, we tend to become frustrated, angry, worn down or simply depressed," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle, "... Mean behavior is more likely to be met with a negative response or a negative internalization of those outwardly expressed negative emotions." There is, then, a clear line between how this person is treating you and how you're responding. It is in no way your fault.
Luckily, there are a lot of paths to reclaiming your space from this person, and turning the narratives in your head back into ones that build you up, not tear you down.
Here are 12 easy rituals to build back confidence if people are crossing your boundaries, according to experts.
1 Practice Speaking About Hurt Feelings
If someone has crossed the line, one of the first lines of defense for rebuilding your confidence can be talking it out with the person who's hurt you.
"I teach parents and children to use the format 'I feel...Because…And I wish…' to help share feelings openly and honestly," MegAnne Ford, owner and CEO of
Be Kind Coaching, tells Bustle. "For example: 'I feel hurt because of the words you just used, and I wish you would treat me with respect.' Or 'I feel angry because you yelled at me, and I wish you would speak to me differently.'" This kind of conversation can both help you regain control, and even potentially mend a relationship. 2 Set Boundaries
It can be hard to move on from the pain of someone crossing your boundaries if they haven't yet stopped. So one very important thing to do is
draw a line.
"The person who has suffered needs to have strong boundaries," Dr. Manly says. "This would involve creating distance from those who have been mean." This doesn't apply the same way if you and the unkind person have made amends, but if things are continuing on the same track, this is a vital step on the road back to self confidence.
3 Work On Gratitude
In some instances, the work to be done after someone has hurt you is internal, rather than external. For these sorts of situations,
practicing gratitude daily can be transformative.
"When your tank is close to empty, it’s very easy to become more susceptible to negative influences ..." career coach
Amy Sanchez tells Bustle. "Therefore, spend time focusing on the good around you so when you do experience an unexpected blow, your tank is more full and you’re less prone to falter." Gratitude can manifest in all sorts of different ways, from journaling to volunteering, but it can be a major confidence boost no matter how you practice it. 4 Try Humanizing Your Bully
As a thought exercise, sometimes it can be helpful to explore the psychology of why the person who hurt you behaved the way that they did. "Remember that someone else's ... behavior is often reflective of their own unhappiness, anger or unresolved issues," counseling psychologist
Audrey Ervin, Ph.D., tells Bustle. "Choose not to own another person's issues by telling yourself, 'this is not my stuff and I refuse to carry it.'" It may seem like grasping at straws at first, but you'll likely be able to find something.
"How much more likely are you to honk at another car after you’ve had a bad day?" Sanchez asks. Maybe this person was just honking their horn at you, metaphorically.
5 Do Some Visualization Exercises
If you are still struggling to rebuild confidence even after talking to the person who's crossed your boundaries, or just can't quite understand where they might be coming from, visualization exercises might be right for you. It can help give you the mental space you need to rebuild.
"Visualize this person, in their tizzy of meanness, on the other side of a vast canyon, so far from you that you cannot be touched," Elana Marlo, Certified Life Coach and Founder of
Elana Marlo Coaching tells Bustle. "How do you feel from this vantage point? Or visualize their hurtful words sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor, never to be seen again. How does that feel?" With your imagination taking the lead, you can start to feel in control again. 6 Create Meaningful Affirmations
Another way to boost yourself back up starts with refocusing your energy on yourself, rather than the person who's hurt you.
"Reclaim your confidence by reviewing the unique, valuable, and special qualities you have — the parts of you that you find delightful, fun, that you'd never want to change," Marlo says. "Write as many of these
affirmations as you can into a list or make a voice recording on your phone so you can return to it on another rainy day when you need to remember your awesomeness." If you find recorded or written affirmations don't do the trick, you can also speak them to yourself as well. 7 Talk To Yourself Like You'd Talk To A Friend Who's Been Hurt
It's a common concept, but one that warrants emphasis: if your friends spoke to you the way you speak to yourself, would you still be friends with them? This ritual takes that idea and puts a positive, active spin on it.
"Speak loving kindness to that wounded part of you who is hurt," Marlo suggests. "Ask yourself what it needs to hear. Offer compassionate words of acceptance, reassurance, and worth: 'I'm here for you...You're important...I'm with you...I love you just the way you are.' Know that you can call upon and embody this loving inner champion whenever you need a friend." So even if you're alone, or in a group of people who make you feel less-than, you can know you have an ally on your side: you.
8 Try Meditation Meditation may seem difficult to get the hang of, but it can actually be a simple, and empowering way to get your confidence back.
"You can do a meditation where you visualize the situation, and bring awareness to how it makes you feel," Jayla Pierce, founder of
her collectives, tells Bustle. "You may feel tight in your chest, or your stomach my churn. Where do you 'feel' this in your body? Now, sit with the feeling, the physical feeling. Then breath into it, imagining sending your breath to this area. As you exhale, imagine releasing this pain." This exercise can help you feel like you're physically letting go of the pain of having your boundaries crossed. 9 Spend Time With People Who Affirm You
Another important thing to remember is that the burden doesn't have to be on you alone to help alleviate the pain.
"Talk it out with a trusted ally or friend," Dr. Ervin suggests. "Having someone on your side can help keep things in perspective. Connect with people who are affirming and value you." Remembering that there are people who care deeply about you and your success may help you feel a weight off your chest.
10 Listen To Your Thoughts
If you've found that, despite trying to actively work on regaining your confidence, the feelings are still there, it may be time to take a deeper look at your thoughts surrounding the situation.
"In order to regain confidence and feel better, pay attention to what you are telling yourself," Dr. Ervin says. "You are in control of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Take back your personal power by making a conscious choice to not internalize another person's unkind actions. Listen to your thoughts and ask: 'does this thought help me or hinder me?'" Becoming aware of how your thoughts are manifesting in feelings can help you take control again.
11 Remember What Makes You Proud Of Yourself
After someone has knocked you down, their narrative might start to overshadow the truth about you and your accomplishments.
If this is the case, try to remind yourself of all the things about you that make you proud. "Reflect on past successes or goals that you have achieved," Backe says. "The idea behind this is not to inflate your ego dramatically or allow yourself to become too deluded, but rather to remind yourself that you're not worthless or that you're not limited to what people outside of yourself [say] when they’re only being negative." They may have injected their negativity into your life, but it's not the truth, and it doesn't need to stay.
12 Refocus Your Goals
If you find that you don't feel like you're making progress, the issue might be that you need to realign your expectations, not work harder.
"It's important that you try to refocus your energy on more positive, attainable everyday goals when your confidence levels are low," Backe says. "Sometimes, even
getting out of bed can seem like the biggest challenge of the day when you're depressed, but finding the strength to build momentum and grow from one strong point to another is imperative to getting the ball rolling again and achieving the things you want to in life." So make a list of attainable goals for your day, or week, and remember to be proud when you achieve them.
If none of these rituals work, it may be a sign that it's time to ask for another layer of help to get your confidence back on track. "If you are dealing with a tricky situation and there are a number of complexities involved, talking to a trained
psychologist or therapist is a good way to ensure that you get the emotional help you need, while ensuring that your information is kept private," Backe says. That way, you can ensure that you're getting all the help you deserve.
Bouncing back from someone crossing your personal boundaries and being outwardly hurtful can be overwhelming. But whether what you need is a simple conversation, a thought exercise, or some combination of a bunch of things, it is possible to feel better.