Boundaries are one of the most important aspects of healthy, mutually satisfying relationships. Simply put, boundaries define what is “me” and what “is not me”. They allow us to know who we are, and how we are different from others intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Here are some vital steps to begin to learn how to effectively set healthy boundaries:
Get in touch with your feelings – It’s crucial to start with labeling the emotion. These uncomfortable feelings help us to learn what is energy draining and poisonous. This is where a boundary begins.
Know your limits – Look back on the situation(s). At what point did someone’s actions or behaviours cross the line for you? Knowing where that line is can give some clarity to what your boundary will be.
What are your motives? – Boundaries are ultimately about an improved relationship in mind. They are not put in place to punish, or control someone. Sometimes we need to limit ourselves to unhealthy behaviour, sometimes we need to simply look after ourselves in the spirit of self care. It’s important that boundaries use the Power of “I”.
Speak your truth – This is not a time to sugar coat or dance around a topic. Be assertive. Say what you need to do for yourself - not for what others need to do (this is controlling). It’s not a time to finger point. Ask yourself, “What do I need?” not “I need YOU to….”
That’s not my stuff! – People might not “get” your boundary. They may question it, become angry, defensive, or try manipulate their way through your boundary. Remember that if you set an appropriate boundary (See #3), whatever reaction others have to it is their stuff – not yours. You don’t have to take it on. You don’t have to give in to false guilt or pressure.
Know your bottom line – Healthy boundaries are important, but knowing your bottom line is equally important. What happens if you state your boundary, and the other person continues to walk right through it? We need to know what we are willing to do if should the unhealthy patterns continue.
Many of us grew up not knowing what a healthy boundary is. It can be very difficult territory to navigate through, so if you need help establishing a boundary or how to be assertive in speaking one, feel free to contact me and begin the journey!