You better be open about setting boundaries!
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If you ever watched the classic TV series SeinfeldYou probably remember the episode where a woman broke up with George by telling him, “It’s not you, it’s me.” “I invented ‘It’s not you, it’s me,'” George replied indignantly. “No one tells me it’s them, not me. If it’s anyone, it’s me!”
What does this have to do with boundaries? Well, actually, it’s a surefire way to avoid having to set any limits at all. It also avoids the conflict and in-depth discussion that can follow when setting boundaries.
If George or his girlfriend really wanted to continue the relationship, they would have to talk about what wasn’t right for them and what their needs were.
Setting boundaries is not an ultimatum, but a dialogue about the relationship and mutual needs and desires.
If George and his girlfriend really wanted to have an affair, they might have said, “It’s not about you or me; it’s about us.”
Almost anything can form a border. There are personal limits we set for ourselves, such as avoiding indulging in alcohol, working on time, getting a good night’s sleep, and flossing at night, to name a few. Self-discipline can be considered an important frontier necessary to success.
Then there are social boundaries that exist between us and the environment, such as the stop sign and stop lights that protect ourselves and others; jump to the back of the line instead of jumping in front of others; Respect others through kind words and patience.
Perhaps the most complex boundaries that can lead to the greatest friction are the boundaries of the relationship we share with others we live with or close to. To this end, the book Get rid of emotional clutter It offers many strategies and ideas for setting boundaries and identifying your strengths.
When borderlessness disguises itself as depression and despair
Let me share with you the story of Gary, the client who came to me because he failed miserably with his apprenticeship – which allowed him to settle down and get a steady job after being in the prison system. It was no surprise to me that he was depressed and lost hope.
Now, I suppose I could have worked directly with Gary’s bad mood – but I saw Gary’s problem as a relationship. Why are you asking? Because I learned early on that Gary grew up in an unexpected, chaotic and traumatic environment. Research on early childhood experiences shows how negative childhood experiences can impede an individual’s social and emotional development.
As I dig deeper, I learned that Gary’s living arrangements reflected his upbringing. He lived in a house where many people came to “celebrate” with his roommates. Gary found it difficult to say “no” and not join in. When he couldn’t keep up with his homework, he felt doomed to repeat his old problems. To make matters worse, he felt terrible about himself.
I suggested to my neighbor that he find someone at his school to help him set up a class schedule. Next, he needed to have his borderline needs met with others – with a sense of openness, motivation, and confidence. He ended up reaching his study goals and gaining self-esteem. In fact, research shows that managing boundaries in families is positively correlated with relationship satisfaction.
Three-step exercise to create healthy boundaries
- Find out how you feel like there are no limits. Do you feel hurt, sad, upset, etc., when someone ignores boundaries? Write down your feelings. Are these feelings the result of a history of such boundaries being ignored or disrespected? If you find an old pattern repeating, keep in mind that there is no need to blame yourself or the other person.
- If you could create one new border, what would it look like? How would you feel if these new limits could be set? You can always start small by thinking of one thing that can be changed.
- Talk to someone else about boundaries and why they are important to you. Be honest and direct, and don’t blame as you talk about boundaries. This is about building trust with another person. You can even explain your history with these boundaries and why it matters to you. Also, remember that not everyone will respond to your need to set boundaries.
If others aren’t able to hear your concerns right away, know that this is part of the process. You can always try to process it later. Above all, don’t give up. Setting boundaries can be uncomfortable, but it can create new understanding when done with kindness and respect for all involved.