Issue 2 of The Art of Self Care
By definition, a boundary is anything that marks a limit.
Psychological limits define personal dignity. Healthy boundaries are derived from love, not fear.
Boundaries encourage a healthy self-image, trust, consistency, stability and productive communication. Boundaries are learned.
If you were not taught that you had a right to privacy, a right to say ‘no’, a right to be spoken to with respect, that you were ever allowed to change your mind, cancel plans, ask for what you want, ask for help, then doing any of this may seem impossible or at the very least improbably.
If you were not taught that you were allowed to not answer a question, or the phone, or respond immediately to emails, then these tasks may bring up feelings of guilt, and judgments that you are doing something mean or wrong.
Boundaries are not meant to punish, but are for your well-being and protection. Boundaries are more effective when you communicate them in an assertive, calm, firm and courteous manner.
They are also only effective when you follow up your words by enforcing the boundaries you set.
Most people do not set or enforce their boundaries because of:
1. Fear of rejection, and ultimately fear of being abandoned
2. Fear of confrontation; hating the argument or fear of the argument.
3. Guilt (Taking better care of someone else’s feelings and needs than you are of your own)
4. Not feeling like your needs or feelings really matter
Setting healthy boundaries allows you to:
1. Improve your self-esteem and self-respect
2. Protect your physical and emotional space from intrusion
3. Be assertive: You can confidently and truthfully say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a request, and are OK when others say “no” to you.
4. Empower yourself to make healthy choices and take responsibility for yourself.
Now it’s your turn:
4 Steps to start setting and enforcing meaningful, healthy boundaries:
Step 1: Stop! Breathe! Focus! This is every first step… it moves you from reacting to responding.
Step 2: Ask and answer the question: “What is my desired outcome?” A desired outcome must fit two requirements:
a) It must be what you want, not what you don’t want and
b) It must be something over which you have control.
Step 3. Practice stating clearly, calmly, firmly and respectfully what it is you want, need or feel. Do not explain, defend or justify your request. The more you practice this step, the easier it will be to actually make your request.
Step 4. Say Thank You for being respectful of my _______ (thoughts, feelings, needs, request, etc.)
In the next bit, we'll talk about what you can do to make anger your friend.