Set boundaries, stay connected?

Here’s how.

We’re continuing our discussion about boundaries this week to get ready for the upcoming holidays with family members! 😉

We set boundaries because we want to keep our relationships healthy. Because our relationships are important to us, we can state our requests and boundaries from a place of connection instead of disconnection. Stating a boundary from anger, annoyance, or frustration usually isn’t helpful to a relationship. 

It’s our job to protect and be responsible for our boundaries. We can make requests, but ultimately we can’t force someone to do something. We can choose to leave or take action to protect our boundary. If we see that the other person frequently disregards our boundary requests, we may decide to create some distance with them and how we interact with them in our life, and let them know why.  

Most people think boundaries are something that they’re not. When it comes down to it, much of what we think needs a boundary is due to our own lack of self-care. 

To review, a boundary is required only when there has been a boundary violation. 

  • A violation is when someone comes into our space (physical or emotional) without us being OK with it. 
  • A boundary is stating what WE will do if that person continues their behavior. 
  • It is NOT us telling that person how to behave. 

Additionally, if we make a boundary request and don’t follow through on what we say we’ll do, we’ve only made an idle threat or consequence. This diminishes our own self-respect and the other person’s respect for us. 

A boundary request sounds like this: “If you continue to _____, then I will ______.” 

For example, “I don’t appreciate being berated, so don’t yell at me,” is NOT setting a boundary. It’s telling someone else what to do. 

“I hear that this is important to you and I don’t appreciate being berated. So if you continue to yell, then I’m going to leave the room until we can talk without you yelling,” is setting a boundary while wanting to stay connected.

The person can continue to yell. The consequence that we follow through with is leaving the room if they do. We used a connection phrase to start by acknowledging the other person with “I hear that this is important to you.” Other connection phrases:

  • “I appreciate you and your perspective, however, if you continue to _____, then I will _____.”
  • “I value our relationship and time together, but if you keep _____, then I will ______.” 
  • “I love you, and I’m not going to do that (thing that you asked me to) because it really doesn’t work for me. How else can I support you?” 
  • “I hear that you feel disappointed with my decision. I’m here to help in a way that works for both of us.”

What other questions do you have about boundaries? Let me know here.

Your turn: What boundary requests would benefit you if you made them? Do you have a clear request and a clear consequence/action that you’ll take if the other person violates your boundary? How can you keep the relationship connected while setting a clear boundary?

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What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

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