When reflecting on relationships this month, something that comes to mind is boundaries. How often do we set a boundary with someone we love? How often do we compromise ourselves for the sake of a relationship? Its not uncommon for us to go along with what our friend or partner wants simply because we feel that we should. We may feel boundaries can bring unnecessary conflict or that we aren’t worthy. Maybe you haven’t figured out your boundaries or don’t know how to express them. Boundaries in general tend to make people uncomfortable. We feel that standing up for ourself and protecting our time and resources is selfish when in reality it can strengthen a lot of relationships.
“When people set boundaries with you, it’s their attempt to continue the relationship with you. It’s not an attempt to hurt you” -Elizabeth Earnshaw.
Take a minute to think about some of the relationships in your life. Do you feel drained when talking to your friend/partner? Have you been hurt over and over by the same person? Do you harbor resentment that you can’t really put your finger on? Do you do things that you don’t really want to do for the sake of your relationships? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it could be a sign to practice setting those boundaries! At first it may feel weird, awkward, or embarrassing. Do it anyway. It will take practice and you’re worth it.
“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it” Mandy Hale
Let’s talk about what boundaries can look like and tools for setting them. I like to think of boundaries as how we encourage others to respect us and our energy. A lot of clients I work with have trouble advocating for themselves and don’t want to offend their loved one. The tool I encourage most often is using “I statements”. I statements are a type of communication strategy that really focuses on an individuals feelings, thoughts, beliefs rather than those of the person on the receiving end. For example: “I feel insignificant when we’re around your friends, and I’m hurt by that” vs “You ignore me when we’re out with your friends.” Using I statements can help you get to the root of the problem and the feeling which helps you work through problems more effectively. Now, how do you apply I statements to boundaries? Some examples could be “I feel helpless and unworthy when…”, “I feel overwhelmed and unappreciated when…”, “I feel unwanted or undesired when…”, ” I feel drained or used when…”.
Setting boundaries isn’t something that happens overnight. It can be really challenging. With any new skill, it could be helpful to set daily goals for yourself. Maybe you don’t jump right in to setting boundaries, but you were able to brainstorm some ideas of where you want to start applying them. That’s a great start! Celebrate those small wins and before you know it you’ll see your confidence grow.
Below are some examples of health and unhealthy boundaries for you to look over. If you’re looking for some more help or guidance around boundaries, Kate is happy to help!
Giving in when you really don’t want to or would like to say no.
Allowing someone to take as much as they want from you: money, time, sex.
Going against your own personal values for the sake of the relationship.
Giving too much in a relationship/feeling like it’s one sided
Not speaking up when you’ve been mistreated.
You feel taken for granted by others.
Saying No and sticking to it .
Asking for what you want or need
Saying yes only when you want to and not because you feel like you need to
Feeling like you’re treated as equal
Not letting people take advantage of you/your generosity