Simple Recipe for Setting, Maintaining and Defending Healthy Boundaries.
By Judith R. BrownHawk MS/P ~ 509-879-5792
What are boundaries?
· Boundaries are flexible, invisible fences that you are free to change at your discretion.
· Boundaries differ from walls or barriers in that they are not always permanent.
· Boundaries are ways we announce and enforce what is acceptable and not acceptable for our lives as individuals.
· Boundaries are ways we keep from hurting others and keep others from hurting us.
· Boundaries allow all people to be and do what is right for them.
The purpose of having Boundaries
· Boundaries protect us
· Boundaries are about self-care
Kinds of boundaries
Boundaries we make with ourselves; things we will do and will not do.
· Example; I will not drive a car after consuming any form of alcohol.
· Example; I will not go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.
· Example; I will make it to work every day on time.
· Example; I will no longer eat meat.
Boundaries we set with other people; things we allow and not allow when in the company of other individuals.
· Example; I will not allow others to talk down to me.
· Example; I will allow myself to be treated to a meal from time to time.
· Example; I will not allow you to stay in my house/apartment
· Example; I will not allow you to swear in my presence.
Some boundaries are ridged and should be;
· It is never ok to hit me, ever
· It is not ok to hit my children, ever
· It is not ok to hurt my animals or my property, ever
· It is not ok to molest children, ever
· It is not ok to drive drunk or altered, ever
Deciding on your personal boundaries
Now it’s important to write down a list of your personal boundaries. You will discover more every day; even some to which you were not aware until you learned this. Be aware these are your boundaries and do not necessarily apply to anyone else.
Maintaining Boundaries; Here’s how it’s done
Begin the statement with a feeling; Example: I feel ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘frustrated’, ‘afraid’, etc.
Step 1: when someone encroaches on a boundary we have set, we need to say out loud how we feel.
However, often people will say, “I feel like…..”
This is not a feeling; it is a description of a feeling.
Also, people will often say, “You make me feel…”
No one can make you feel anything. However, you can give others the illusion that they can control you by saying they made you feel something. By simply saying, “I feel” you are taking ownership of your feelings and are not allowing someone else to think they can make you feel anything. By owning your feelings, you take back your power.
SO, STEP 1: I feel ______________. (fill in the blank)
Step 1 & Step 2 together
Step 2: Describe the behavior that feels like it is threatening your boundaries;
· Example: “I feel frustrated when you don’t pick up your jacket”
· Example: “I feel angry when you raise your voice”
· Example: “I feel hurt when you talk about leaving”
· Example: “I feel anxious when you talk about dying”
· Example: “I feel rebellious when you tell me what to do”
Step 1, 2, & 3 together
Step 3: Tell the person a reasonable description of what you would like them to do that would alleviate the complaint.
· “I feel frustrated when you don’t pick up your jacket. What I need from you is that you put it in the closet every time you take it off.”
· “I feel angry when you raise your voice. What I need from you is to talk calmly.”
· “I feel hurt when you talk about leaving. What I need from you is to make a decision one way or the other.”
· “I feel rebellious when you tell me what to do. What I need from you is to trust that I may not do things the same, but I will get it done.”
· “I feel anxious when you talk about dying. What I need from you is some time to make sense of death.”
The hard part…
Now that you have discovered what your boundaries are, and have found out how to maintain them;
LET GO OF THE OUTCOME
You cannot force anyone to uphold your boundaries, you can only state what it is that you need and how you feel. Everyone must be free to comply or not. If you go on and on, about the problem you will only succeed in making people angry and give them fuel to not comply with what you require. You must let go of the outcome and allow them to be free to choose one way or the other.
The final part; defending our boundaries.
Once we have set a boundary, how do we defend it?
This also comes in 3 parts;
Step 1: Describe the behavior that has overstepped your bounds.
· If you leave your coat on the floor….
· If you raise your voice to me…
· If you tell me what to do….
· If you empty the bank account again…
Step 2: What will you do?
· If you leave your coat on the floor, I will put it outside…
· If you raise your voice to me, I will leave the house…
· If you tell me what to do, I will do the opposite…
· If you take our kids out of school, I will seek legal representation…
Step 1, 2, & 3 together
Step 3: What are the consequences if they continue in this behavior?
· If you leave your coat on the floor, I will put it outside. If you continue to leave your coat on the floor, I will put it in the garbage.
· If you raise your voice to me, I will leave the house. If you continue to raise your voice to me, I will not come back.
· If you tell me what to do, I will do the opposite. If you continue to tell me what to do, I will leave and find my own place.
A final note…
We set a boundary to:
· Define our territory
· To protect our space
o Physical, emotional, mental, sexual, spiritual, financial, etc.
· We set a boundary because it is what we need to do for self-protection; to take care of ourselves.
· We set it knowing the other person may not be able or willing to change their behavior to comply with what we need.
· We must be prepared to take whatever action we have stated if this proves to be the case.
· This action may mean cutting that person out of our live completely.
· We must be willing to take the risk, even if it means some people will go away.
· You will be surprised to find the ones that comply and stay are the real people you have always wanted in your life.
Thank you for reading. Please let me know what you think; firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-879-5792 ~ Come like us on Facebook at Highland Sanctuary.