Last September, I issued a blog on the topic of boundaries. It was so well received that I decided that now, a year later, would be a good time to again talk about boundaries.
Interestingly, what has developed for me in the area of boundaries over the past 12 months is a keen understanding that boundaries are learned in our formative years. If you, like me, did not have healthy boundaries demonstrated by your parental influences, then there is a need to learn about them later in life.
Let Go of the Guilt
As with everything that we learn in our adult life, we tend to get angry at ourselves for not practicing the skill earlier. Firstly, we need to heal and forgive ourselves so that we can move forward. Continuing to feel bad about how we handled past situations does not achieve anything positive. As a matter of fact, it only amplifies our discomfort and keeps us stuck. To let go of any guilt or shame that we may feel, we can review the following statements.
– I did the best I could with the information and skills that I had at the time.
– My behaviour was programmed early on in my life based on my experiences and the influences around me. I had no control over any of this.
– Guilt and fear have kept me locked into the habit of having poor boundaries. I am strong enough now to release my feelings of guilt and fear and to move into healthy boundaries.
– Change is difficult for everyone. I am not alone with this feeling.
– I am taking responsibility for my behaviour starting now.
– I forgive myself.
Identify types of Boundaries
Next, it is helpful to identify what kind of boundaries we typically hold with people. For this exercise, divide your life into categories and then identify the key relationships within each category. Some of the life categories that you may want to consider are; family, friends, work, intimate/romantic, siblings, neighbours, and community.
Next, for each person listed, determine what type of boundary you are maintaining with them based on the following three descriptions:
– You tend to not ask for help from this person.
– You feel like he/she doesn’t really know you.
– You are protective of information and feelings that you share with this person.
– You feel isolated or disconnected most of the time from this person.
– This person would describe you as detached.
– You have a difficult time saying no to this person.
– Your sense of self is dependent on the opinion of this person.
– You fear rejection from this person.
– You tend to disclose personal information quickly to this person.
– With this person, you cycle through saying yes, feeling angry, and then distancing yourself.
– You do not compromise on your values nor your desires with this person.
– You clearly know your personal wants and needs and can communicate them without feeling guilty to this person.
– You can accept when he/she says no, and you respect their honesty.
Moving Forward In a New Way
For the relationships that you have identified having rigid or porous boundaries, begin to put together a plan on how you want to behave differently. Start with simple and relatively easy changes, knowing that this is going to feel uncomfortable, and it will take some practice before it begins to feel natural.
For porous boundaries, you will want to move into a more healthy situation quickly, and you can do this by stating “no” or “no thanks” when necessary and appropriate. Keep in mind that you do not owe the other person an explanation, nor do you need to apologize for your position. Keeping the response simple will get the job done effectively. “No, I don’t want to go for dinner” or “No, I don’t want to visit your sister.” Your pleasant but confident refusal conveys the feeling that you are not rejecting the person, just the request.
In other situations, you will want to give more information than a simple no. To do this, formulate your response into 3 segments:
- Acknowledge the other person and their needs/ask.
- State your position/situation.
- Set the limit.
Here is an example of a response to someone asking you to babysit their child. “I know that you need someone to watch Johnny today, however I already have my own plans for today that I do not want to change, therefore, I won’t be able to help.”
Remember, if you are new to setting boundaries, they are going to feel unnatural at the beginning. However, they are necessary for any healthy, respectful relationship to flourish. They take time to establish, and when they do take root, it benefits both parties. They eliminate feelings of worthlessness, being taken advantage of, misunderstanding, and they negate any anger and rage that can permanently damage a relationship.
As we move into Autumn of 2020, we move into new routines for both work and school. Remember to adopt healthy boundaries in all of your relationships. Your stress and anxiousness will reduce, and you will be rewarded with a sense of personal confidence and control.
I am wishing each and every person a healthy and happy transition into the fall of 2020. If you are finding that you are consistently dealing with stress and worry, and you wish instead to have your life feel its best, then go to my website and request a complimentary consultation. I would be pleased to chat with you about my proprietary coaching model, Rewire Your Mind®, and how it can move you from stressing to progressing in as little as three months, guaranteed.