Friday, May 22, 2015

Basic boundaries

We haven't talked about boundaries for a long time. And it's easy to forget sometimes that boundaries are a way that we respect ourselves. It's a way we protect ourselves from unwanted or inappropriate behavior. It's really a form of self-care. And we know how important self-care is to good health.

Is boundary-setting automatic for you? If so, be grateful that you learned that lesson somewhere along the way. Perhaps you don't even have to think about boundaries any more. That's wonderful.

But if you find yourself resentful of others more times than not—or find yourself wishing that you'd said or done something to prevent yourself from feeling used, put-upon or stepped on—perhaps it's time to think again about establishing boundaries.

Boundaries aren't meant to be punishment for someone else. They're neither punitive nor manipulative. Boundaries simply tell others what you will and will not tolerate and accept by way of words and/or actions. You name the behavior you will not tolerate, you tell the person how the behavior makes you feel, and you say the action you will take to protect yourself should the behavior persist. It's that simple.

Of course, we know it really isn't simple. If it were, none of us would have boundary issues. Sometimes we let people walk over us or push us into things we don't want to do because we want their approval or their love. So we need to ask ourselves whether that love or approval is really worth what we suffer through with the particular behavior that bothers us. And then we need to decide what we'll do. For example, you might say to someone, "When you yell at me, I feel afraid both physically and emotionally; and when you do that in the future, I will leave the room (or the house or whatever)."

If you have questions about establishing boundaries, I invite you to contact me for a complimentary strategy session.

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