Friday, August 22, 2014

Boundaries aren't selfish

Many of us have trouble saying "No" and setting boundaries in our relationships with others. Is that you? Do you let your family and friends dump on you and expect you to: a) listen to all the drama of their lives (some of which may seem like a broken record to you) or b) do something about their drama? Or maybe both? Are you the one who always gives and gives to others, while getting crumbs from them at best? You meet their needs but yours go unnoticed?

Boundaries are an extremely important part of relationships—and something many of us didn't learn as we grew up. Boundaries are really for you. They're not meant as punishment for others. They are the limits you set for yourself on what you will accept and what you won't. For example, if you have a family member or friend who uses you as a sounding board for the same gripe session day after day, you do have a right to set limits. For one thing, it is probably getting very old for you to listen to the same refrain over and over when clearly nothing is being done to change the situation. For another, it's not helping the other person move forward when you continue to listen. You may want to stop the broken record by saying you've been hearing this for so long and are really helpless to do anything about it; you don't care to hear it anymore. And you may want to ask the person what they intend to do to change the situation.

It isn't selfish to set such boundaries. It's really a form of self-care. Hearing these sad stories when you're helpless to change anything takes a toll on you. Saying "Yes" to everyone else's needs and requests while letting yours go unspoken and untended also takes a toll. Self-care and self-compassion just make sense. None of us gets all our needs met. But everyone deserves to have attention to their needs. Think about what boundaries you may need to set. If you wish to talk this over, please contact me for a complimentary strategy session.

1 comment:

  1. Do you think you can set boundaries with a family member who's taking a lot of your time griping - when that family member is an adolescent girl? Or do the responsibilities of parenting overcome the self-care in that case?