Setting boundaries can be a very empowering and enlightening process, but a lot of us struggle with the topic. But why?
- Fear of upsetting others?
- We are still in the process of self discovery and identifying who we are, so struggle to clearly articulate our boundaries to others?
- We’re scared of losing someone who could be offended by our boundaries?
- We know what our boundaries are, but haven’t found our voice yet?
What ever the reason may be, I get it! I’ve been there! Setting boundaries is arguably one of the most crucial things you can do for a relationship. Relationships of all kinds; mother and daughter, husband and wife, brother and sister, parent and child. Heck, we even set boundaries with our pets!
Without setting boundaries we risk compromising our core values, beliefs, and the quality of life we set for ourselves. How does someone know how to treat you if you don’t teach them? Unfortunately we cannot read minds, so we rely on clear communication to identify boundaries. What may be super important to you, may be minor to the person sitting opposite you at the cafe. We are all unique in our own way, which is what makes this world so intriguing. But to maintain a healthy and respectful relationship of any nature, here’s my top 3 tips for boundaries:
Setting: the first step of implementing anything, is to plan…and setting boundaries is no different! Of course this comes with time as we grow as individuals through age and experiences, but setting boundaries also requires you to take the time to evaluate your values. Decide what you are willing to compromise on, and what your non-negotiable’s are. You may be willing to compromise on the dirty dishes in the sink, but leaving dirty laundry around the house is a deal breaker. On a more serious note, you may be willing to compromise on differing religious views, but the overbearing in-laws are a no-go! What ever it may be, grab a pen and paper and explore who you are on paper. It’s surprisingly invigorating.
Voicing: the way we communicate something will determine the outcome of the situation. When communicating your boundaries to others, it’s important to remain factual, direct, and respectful. In any relationship, discussing boundaries can be delicate and may often spark debate or conflict. For this reason it’s crucial for both parties to keep open lines of communication, an open mind, and respect the differences of others. When voicing your boundaries be mindful of the amount of emotion you are exhibiting, as this may blur your actual message. For example: if you are crying (like, can’t breathe, gasping for air, mumbling your words type crying), or screaming and running around the house to the point your neighbours side eye you in the driveway…it’s safe to say your message has been lost in translation.
Protecting: have you ever felt your stomach churn when someone challenges your values? If so, introduce the “Firm but Fair” policy! Obviously before raising the issue with the person, be sure to decide if it’s something you feel the need to verbalise. If you decide it’s not worth the discussion, file it and move on. For those that feel the need to bring it up, it’s important to communicate with minimal emotion. Directly point out your value/boundary has been compromised, then gently express how that makes you feel. If this is a reoccurring issue (perhaps in long term relationships), give your partner the opportunity to rectify the situation by outlining what you expect from them in future. If boundaries are continuously compromised, it may be time to consider your compatibility with the other person.
Moral of the story? Don’t let who you are or what’s important to you, be compromised. Our beliefs and core values are what define us as individuals and ultimately what makes the world turn. Stand true to your boundaries and protect them with all your might.