Do you find saying no hard? Do you feel guilty for changing set plans? Do you keep your feelings to yourself to keep from “make waves”? These thoughts are common for many people in their relationships. Fortunately, putting proper boundaries in place can alleviate these uncomfortable feelings. A boundary can be defined as the ability to know where you end and someone else begins.
We all have personal boundaries that govern our lives. Our boundaries are broken into physical, mental, and emotional components that help shape the way we interact with others. Establishing healthy boundaries makes it easier to set limits for yourself and others. Consequently, having unhealthy bounadaries in relationships may lead to overly connected relationships which are called, enmeshed or co-dependent. In a healthy relationship you know that you both are separate entities and that you cannot change or fix the other.
Knowing what healthy boundaries are and learning to be assertive can be tough for some. It is difficult to set healthy boundaries if you grew up in an environment where unhealthy boundaries were in place. Each person’s boundaries are mainly determined and shaped by the family of origin as a child. Whatever boundaries that were modeled to you in your environment during childhood will be carried along into your adult life. However, it’s never to late to learn and implement healthy boundaries in relationships.
Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries:
Placing the needs of others above your own.
Frequently offering unsolicited advice to help others.
Doing things that others should be doing for themselves.
Overcommiting yourself to things.
Taking advantage of others.
Expecting others to know what you need without saying anything or “mind read”.
Feeling guilty after saying no.
Keeping your feelings to yourself.
Being overly involved in anothers problems.
Touching someone without their permission.
Trying to fix or change someone else.
Feeling unappreciated, resentful or exhausted in your relationship.
Allowing yourself to be define by others.
Disregarding your beliefs/feelings simply to not offend another.
Accepting unwanted sexual advances or touching.
Ways to communicate boundaries effectively:
Be open to discuss when someone has violated your boundary. Make sure you are being assertive in your message. You can do this by maintaining eye contact and speak in a direct and clear manner.
Have clear and firm boundaries in place. Furthermore, have clear and firm consequences for violations. If there is no consequence for a boundary being violated the boundary will loose it’s meaning.
Do not be apologetic for your feelings. “No” is a complete sentence. You don’t have to feel bad for your feelings or give excuses to why you are saying no.
Use “I” messages instead of “you” messages. Remove blame and take responsibility for your emotions by using “I” statements.
Actively engage in problem solving. Have solution talk rather than problem talk. Do not simply complain about the problem. Be sure to find a way to resolve the issue.
Check and balance. Ensure that others are receiving the message you intended by asking for feedback.