Monday, November 10, 2014

Mind your boundaries

A client recently told me about difficulties with a person in her life who has real control issues. My client said she was trying to set boundaries but the other person wasn't respecting her boundaries.

That often happens. The boundaries we set are for us—it's to remind ourselves of what we will and will not accept in terms of the behavior of others. If others do not respect those boundaries, it's up to us to follow through on whatever we've decided we will do when others cross the lines we've set. For example, you might decide that you don't want anyone to yell at you; it's too upsetting for you. Others will need to speak in a moderate tone of voice, or you will leave the room. If it continues, you may even decide to leave the house or building—or even to leave the relationship. That's completely your decision—and you need to let offending people know this is your boundary.

Your action depends on how much a particular behavior upsets you. You get to set your own boundaries. They are not to punish others. They are simply your own rules for what you will do when someone crosses a boundary. If you don't follow through, of course, people won't respect your boundaries.

As I told my client, "You're only responsible for the effort, not the outcome." In other words, it's up to her to set and maintain her boundaries. If the other person doesn't respect them, that's not my client's responsibility. She isn't responsible for the outcome. But stating her boundaries and sticking to them is her responsibility.

If you have questions with boundaries or problems with maintaining them, I invite you to contact me for a complimentary strategy session. It's an important part of our life together in community.

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