STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
For any of you that might have been around a toddler recently the “no” phase will be a familiar and challenging experience. These little humans are learning the art of separation and testing the limits of their new voices and rapidly forming ideas.
This incredibly important (and often frustrating) skill is exactly what I want to discuss today. We are going to talk about boundaries.
FROM TERRIBLE TWOS TO ADULTHOOD
Boundaries become more complicated as we get older, but the basic premise is the same. You utilize boundaries for your own protection the same way that a two-year-old does. The goalpost has just moved a bit.
To some people the idea of a boundary is a way to keep others out. The opposite is actually the case. Boundaries are healthy ways that you communicate your expectations to others for how you need to be treated in relationships.
The ability to do this in a clear and respectful way can lead to longer and improved relationships whether they are romantic or professional.
WHAT IS A BOUNDARY?
Sometimes people have trouble identifying and or setting boundaries if this is new to them. Some basic guidelines to get you started might look like:
1. Your basic human rights
I have a right to respect
I have a right to say no without guilt
My needs are as important as others
2. Your value system
What values are important to you
3. Listen to your gut
What causes a reaction (heart rate, sweating, tightness in chest/stomach etc)
These are all key areas that can help you determine where a boundary might be necessary.
3 KEY STRATEGIES
Now that we have given some framework to the idea of what boundaries are and why me might need them, let’s look at some strategies for implementing or maintaining healthy boundaries.
1. Be Flexible – Wait a minute…I thought you said we were establishing boundaries. Yes, but these do not need to be chiseled in stone. If you are too rigid in your boundaries often this can lead to issues in your relationships. Have firm boundaries, yes, but be open to revisiting them from time to time if they are no longer serving you.
2. Learn to Say "No!" – Back to the terrible twos again and the lessons we learned there. First off, no is a complete sentence. You do not owe anyone an explanation past no. This will likely feel uncomfortable the first few times you do it, but I challenge you to practice it.
3. Protect Your Space – We are in an emotionally charged time right now and having a space that you feel safe and protected in is really important. There are small ways that you can extend these boundaries to make yourself feel more in control.
Set the DND feature on your phone
Schedule time with family or significant other that is non negotiable
Set a cut off time in the evening for responses to emails/texts that are business related
Boundaries can be an amazing way to give yourself back some much-needed confidence and space. It can also be really challenging if you have never tried to assert yourself in this way before.
I work with clients to help them create and communicate healthy boundaries regularly. If this is an area you could use help with, let's explore working together.
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