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How to set (and keep!) healthy boundaries

BoundariesResearch has proven that people who feel connected to others live longer, healthier lives. Creating and maintaining healthy relationships is essential to our well-being, yet not always easy . . .

Sometimes we have to set boundaries with people, which can be hard to do (especially if you relate to being a people-pleaser).

What exactly are healthy boundaries? When do we set them? And how do we do it in a way that is loving?

These are the questions I explore in today’s blog. I also reveal the #1 reason why so many of us know we should set a boundary with someone but do not follow through with it.

We are all here to learn and grow so it’s natural to experience growing pains with people you care about. The key word here is growing not pain. Setting boundaries are part of growth.

A boundary is a self-honoring agreement inside yourself or with another person that supports your well-being AND comes from love. When we tolerate hurtful or negative treatment from another, we end up building up resentment or eventually completely pulling away. Having the courage to communicate our needs and setting a boundary is more loving then pretending something is okay when it isn’t. 

There are two kinds of boundaries. The first one being Internal boundaries, which are agreements we make with ourselves to modify a relationship. For example, you may have a very negative friend who complains every time you are together. Perhaps you have even asked the person to be more positive and they have not adjusted. You are not ready to completely sever the friendship so instead, you set a boundary that you will only make plans with that person once a month versus weekly.

The other type of boundary is one you verbally request from another. Say you have a relative who always asks you,So are you dating anyone?” or “What’s going on with your career, find a job yet?” Their intrusiveness laced with a tone of judgment makes you cringe. You want to (or have to) be around them but you keep building up resentment whenever the intrusive question is asked. Time to set a boundary!!

Boundaries not only prevent us from getting resentful and eventually throwing up a barrier, but they also save us from being a doormat.
So if they are so helpful, why are they so hard to set and keep? Well because we are scared. Scared that the person will be hurt or mad. Scared they won’t like us. Scared that the relationship will end.

But what is scarier is being in unhealthy relationships or tolerating behavior that feels hurtful. For relationships to grow, there are sometimes growing pains. The other person may very well get hurt or angry. You are not responsible for their reaction. You are responsible for communicating honestly and with love.

Remember: being loving is being real, authentic and courageous. It is not all words of affirmation and rosy language. Consider what boundaries it may be time to set to grow yourself and your relationships.

In the words of Brene Brown:

When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.”

setting boundaries

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