All relationships need boundaries to remain healthy. Consider there are certain things you discuss with your best friend that you’d never discuss with your child or your mother. Boundaries help to determine how much you give and receive from a relationship. If any of your relationships are leaving you irritable and overwhelmed, reexamine your boundaries.
The boundaries you set in your relationships are a reflection of your ego and self-esteem:
* If you have a low sense of self-worth, your boundaries are going to be unhealthy. You’ll likely to be too focused on trying to please others and receive love and approval. You’ll be overextending yourself and demanding too little from others.
* If your ego is over-inflated, your boundaries are aggressively set to maximize your own utility. It’s your way or the highway.
For your most pleasing results, seek middle ground when setting boundaries.
Using these strategies will help you set boundaries that are empowering for both parties:
1. Decide on your core values. What is your comfort level? Are you comfortable discussing your personal finances with others? Do you like friends or family just showing up at your front door or would you like a little warning? Are you willing to let others borrow your car, money, or a cup of sugar? How much honesty do you want to give and receive?
* Some of these values will vary depending on the other person. You might let your best friend borrow your car, but no one else. Certain people might be able to spend the night on your couch while others cannot.
2. Determine what you need from the relationship. Communicate your needs to the other person in a healthy, non-blaming manner. This will require some measure of assertiveness. It’s not fair to expect anyone to read your mind and predict all of your wants and needs.
3. Determine the other person’s needs. Think “win-win” and approach the other person with a pleasant conversation about their wishes and needs in the relationship.
4. Determine the consequences. How will you handle it if someone violates your boundaries? Remind others of your boundaries and then take action. It someone shows up unannounced, don’t let him in your home. If she’s late again, you could leave and go somewhere else.
5. Be consistent. It’s natural for others to test you when you change the rules. It’s important to be consistent, or you won’t be taken seriously. Follow through and keep your word. One slip into your old patterns and you’ll probably have a battle on your hands.
6. Be prepared to let go. It’s likely that some individuals will keep on behaving the same way, regardless of your efforts. If a person is unable or unwilling to appreciate your boundaries and requirements, it might be best to reexamine the relationship.
Are your relationship boundaries working for you? Redefining a relationship can be challenging and stressful. Change isn’t always popular. When people can no longer take advantage of you, you’re sure to experience some resistance. But when you maintain your efforts consistently, you and those around you will all ultimately benefit.