Setting boundaries for yourself so you can be emotionally healthy is scary and hard sometimes. It can mean you will disappoint or even unintentionally hurt the people you love. It takes great bravery to be able to do this.
Human beings strive to be a part of a larger whole; the group of people that is our pack. In craving acceptance, the need to understand and validate our existence, and the need to avoid conflict we sometimes forget what our own personal needs are in order to keep the peace of the greater good. This can be understood as part of the human condition. The human condition is defined in Wikipedia as “the characteristics, key events and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict and mortality.”
At times our need to be a part of something conflicts with our need to be healthy as an individual. This can lead to stress, unhappiness, and even emotional disorders. It is important that as individuals we respect and honor ourselves mind, body and soul. In doing this we need to be able to pay attention to what is happening with our bodies and emotionally when we are reacting to a situation that is unhealthy for us.
The solution that makes the most sense is to disengage or walk away from a situation or person that is causing us to feel or behave in a way that is not good for us. However, in our need to keep the peace and get along we sometimes fall into unhealthy patterns of behavior that end up hurting us. For example, family members all have different ways of behaving and interacting that have become patterns in how they relate to each other and the world. Members all have their roles, whether they are healthy or unhealthy, that contribute to making the family work. Sometimes it works as a functional family and sometimes dysfunctional. As the individual family members move into their own families or friend groups they carry these coping mechanisms of behavior into those other relationships. Healthy people discard unhealthy patterns of behavior they learned in their family that don’t work in their new relationships and learn new healthy ways of relating. However, when they are caught in the middle of their family dynamic again it becomes confusing for them, and they are not able to cope well because they no longer are able to behave the way their family expects. This is when they have a choice. They can go back to their old patterns of behavior that is unhealthy for them and be dragged back into the drama and crisis of the family, or they can set their own boundaries and learn how to interact in a healthy functional way.
It takes great bravery and strength to go against the people we love and possibly disappoint and hurt them. It takes great courage and wisdom to know when to do this and that it is what we need to do to be ok. It is not being selfish or cold. It is being a healthy, happy, self-actualized grown up. Hopefully, the people we love, our pack, can see past themselves and accept that we have to take care of ourselves, knowing beyond a doubt we love them very much.
Ways To Begin Setting Your Boundaries:
- Give Choices Not Threats Unless you are completely serious about the threat you are making do not make threats. Telling your mom you will never talk to her again is not realistic or practical. Instead give choices. “Mom, I won’t talk with you until you stop yelling at me, and speak to me with respect. Call me when you can do that.”
- Positive Communication Don’t play the Blame Game. Saying things like “You make me so mad.” or “You are being a jerk.” is just going to escalate a situation.”Use “I” statements to explain how you feel. For example, “I am really frustrated with how we always argue.”
- Be Honest Say how you feel in a very clear and kind way. There is no room for hidden messages or passive aggressive communication. Always speak in a respectful manner.
- Always Listen To Your Body If the interaction is causing you to feel anxiety, anger, upset then walk away from it and circle back around with a different approach. This will help you learn how to set your own boundaries and take care of yourself. Respect yourself enough to do this. No argument is worth winning to the point you lose who you are.
Setting boundaries for ourselves means setting limits on how we allow ourselves to be treated as well as behave. For more information on how to set boundaries on your specific situation please contact me for a consultation.