The first step to healthier relationships is to set and share boundaries. This may be boundaries ranging from “I can’t play at any soccer games on Sunday” or “I do not feel comfortable/safe talking to Jake because he is a bad influence so I will leave the room anytime he’s present in respects to myself.” Some of the time you don’t have to share your boundaries with the other person (like in the Jake example above). However, if you plan to still keep a relationship with the person it is crucial you communicate your boundaries. Over time, this will create real and meaningful connection – as you both share your wants, needs and feelings. This will also help validate both parties as you are being responsible for your own needs and supporting the other person to do the same.
So what are the steps?
- Clearly state your boundaries, including the specifics of your boundaries (what, when, how long, why, etc)
- Understand your feelings, needs, wants, and thoughts regarding what you need to feel safe and heard in the relationship.
- Be clear and direct in the specifics of your boundaries and be assertive so the person knows what you mean and that you will honor your boundary.
- Use “I” when establishing your boundary. Make sure your boundary is about you and not anyone else. Your boundaries are about you and your needs, not about controlling another person‘s feelings or behaviors.
- Clearly state outcome/consequences of the boundary not being honored and how are you will enforce the boundary
- Share your boundary with the person.
- The consequence of not honoring your boundary is something that you will or will not do – not what the other person will or will not do.
- Hold your center when your boundary is being tested (because it will be). Stay firm and strong and look for the help of other people to support you in holding your boundaries until you feel that you can hold them on your own.
- Let people know what you will think, feel and choose to do if your boundary is not honored/respected.
- Don’t set a boundary you are not going to follow through with
- If you make a boundary and don’t enforce it, that boundary will be another empty threat which will reinforce that you do not stand up for yourself.
Boundaries are tough, however, they give so much love to you and are incredibly necessary. I challenge you to use this three step method anytime you feel a need to place a boundary with someone – may it be big or small! Please reach out for any further questions regarding this topic.