Setting Healthy Boundaries
June 22, 2015
Setting healthy boundaries is an important part of any relationship. Healthy boundaries are important for romantic, friendly, and family relationships. Examples of crossing boundaries are varied: Does your boyfriend or girlfriend text or call you incessantly? Does your Mom stop by your house unannounced? Do you have a friend who repetitively asks for money to borrow without paying you back? Perhaps you have friends or family who put you down. You might brush off these affronts, however, neither person in the relationship benefits from these bad habits. Although you care for these people in your life, establishing healthy boundaries is essential to healthy, happy, and fulfilling relationships. The tips below will help you to properly and effectively set boundaries with those you care about:
Recognize and acknowledge your feelings and name your limits: It’s impossible to set effective boundaries if we do not know how we are feeling. Did your friend say something that hurt your feelings? Do you just feel lousy when you are around certain people? Don’t push those feelings to the side! It’s easy to become enmeshed in other’s issues and problems so much so that we ignore how we are feeling. Check in with yourself now and then when you are interacting with people in your life. If you are feeling sad, acknowledge it and begin to recognize the triggers for those emotions. Once you have had time to reflect on and make distinct the difference between you and the other person, you will be able name your limits. For instance, if your friend regularly puts you down and you acknowledge that it makes you feel miserable, once the insults start again, you can stop your friend and say: “I need you to stop putting me down or we will not be able to hang out anymore.” You don’t need to be polite when others are not granting you the same courtesy!
Give yourself permission to set boundaries: Once you check in with yourself and recognize what is causing you to feel sad, upset, overwhelmed, bad, or drained, give yourself permission to confront the person to establish a healthy boundary. If you have a family member that is always borrowing money from you and not paying you back for instance, don’t be afraid to say that you can’t loan any more money to them until they are able to pay you back. If you are broke and struggling, anger and resentment will grow, which will eventually lead to an unpleasant altercation. Likewise, not establishing boundaries with your friend allows them to take advantage of your kindness and not benefit from building self-sufficiency skills. There is nothing wrong with setting boundaries. They make both people in the relationship better!
Take good care of yourself: Give yourself permission to put yourself first. If your boyfriend or girlfriend are texting you incessantly, give yourself permission to turn off the phone or terminate the relationship altogether. Self-care means recognizing the importance of your feelings and honoring them. You deserve respect and to be treated well. If you experience backlash after setting a boundary, don’t become overwhelmed with guilt. You did the right thing. Take a walk or read a book you enjoy.