Tag: Boundaries

How to have healthy boundaries

How to have healthy boundaries

Many people do not have healthy boundaries. Not only does this mean they often feel that people have crossed a line, it also means they can spend a lot of time berating themselves.

People without healthy boundaries can have the self-critical voice inside their head telling them off for saying “yes” – when they know they really should have said “no”.

Sometimes they can also feel guilty, ashamed or depressed because they did or agreed to do something they didn’t want to do. Often they will be saying to themselves: “Yet again…”

Virtually every day of our life most of us will come into contact with other people. That doesn’t have to be in a physical sense as in the modern world it can be in a huge variety of ways: on the phone, a video-call or conference, or by such as text message and email.

So everybody needs healthy boundaries. We need them to keep the space that allows us to be our own individual self.

As there are more people in the world than there ever has been and because the world is increasingly busier, we all need healthy boundaries more than ever. Healthy boundaries let us keep our personal integrity.

Healthy versus unhealthy boundaries

Most of us prefer that we are both liked and respected. But sometimes we need to make clear what our boundaries are and that someone is crossing them.

In this way we have to accept that someone possibly won’t like us. But they certainly will have respect for how we are able to realize and maintain our healthy boundaries.

It also gives a statement that we understand what healthy and unhealthy boundaries look like. It says that because of this, we will also respect your healthy boundary.

Healthy boundaries can be crossed in different ways. This includes verbally – that is, being shouted at; someone gossiping or spreading rumours about us; and also when someone is not allowed to speak or if they do it is ridiculed or ignored.

In an emotional sense if someone simply doesn’t respect our sense of self, that is crossing our healthy boundary. Similarly if someone lies to, puts down, bullies, manipulates, embarrasses or tries to makes us feel guilty – that is all boundary crossing.

Someone getting into our personal physical space, being physically threatened or someone touching us without our permission (not only us but our belongings) – these are all instances when our healthy boundary needs to be strongly and swiftly enforced.

Likewise if someone is behaving in a manner that is too familiar and that often includes a sexual nature, or invades our privacy by such as looking over our shoulders at our WhatsApp messages or reading our emails.

Saying “yes” instead of “no”

How to set and keep our healthy boundaries is something most of us learn in childhood. But if the significant adults in our life as we grow up do not understand the need for healthy boundaries, then we are being taught incorrectly.

Growing up in a household where there’s a lot of criticism or some other form of abuse can mean as an adult that someone will have little or no sense of their healthy boundary. It is unlikely they will even know the difference between health and unhealthy boundaries.

In these instances it is because their sense of self has been damaged. Their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-love has also been negatively impacted.

With low self-esteem, self-confidence and self-love, people are always seeking love and approval. So they say “yes” when they mean to say “no” – and say, do or agree to certain things because they are seeking external validation.

This is one of the devastating impacts of a child having unmet needs when they are growing up. Some people might have been taught how to have a healthy boundary in their childhood, but then such as a traumatic incident can cause boundary problems for them.

What are healthy boundaries?

We all really know when our healthy boundary has been crossed. If our self-critical voice isn’t chirping away berating us, we feel it with uncomfortable emotions and in our gut instinct.

Boundaries are simply limits to what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.

Researcher and professor Brené Brown – well known for her TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability” that’s been viewed more than 65 million times around the world – defines healthy boundaries in an equally simple way.

“A boundary is simply what’s okay and what’s not okay,” says Brown, who’s also the author of several bestselling recovery books including Dare to Lead. “If we don’t set boundaries, we let people do things that are not okay or get away with behaviors that are not okay. Then we’re just resentful or hateful.

“The moment someone asks you to do something you don’t have the time or inclination to do is fraught with vulnerability. ‘Yes!’ often seems like the easiest way out.

“But it comes at a price: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said ‘Sure!’ in my squeaky, I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this voice, only to spend hours, even months, feeling angry and resentful.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. We can’t base our own worthiness on others’ approval – and this is coming from someone who spent years trying to please everyone! Only when we believe, deep down, that we are enough can we say ‘Enough!'”

Pushing against healthy boundaries

Most parents will certainly know what it’s like to have their healthy boundary tested. In this case it comes from their children as they are growing up.

In fact, this is perfectly normal: we all do it because it’s an intrinsic part of growing up. Children at various stages of their development want to test how independent they are – until the day they leave home.

Even though it’s normal, parents need to know and maintain their healthy boundary. That’s for the parents, but also so that they are teaching their children how to navigate life in a healthy manner.

Codependent relationships will be a constant test of boundaries as well. In addition, so too will being in a relationship of some sort with someone who’s an addict, including a person struggling with a behavioral addiction.

Frequently an addict and a codependent person will find each other to form a relationship. These relationships are bound to be fraught with unhealthy boundaries – and the solution here is to deal with the codependency or addiction.

Healthy boundaries can be developed in all circumstances. Firstly, someone needs to recognize that they currently have unhealthy boundaries.

Get in touch with us today for a chat about what we can do to help you or someone you care about to develop healthy boundaries.

setting boundaries

Setting boundaries while you’re in recovery

Setting boundaries while you’re in recovery

An addiction – whether it be to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, virtually anything – is a challenging road to navigate.

Even when you’re in recovery, your addiction is likely to take a toll on you, your friends, and your family members. In other words, the people you’ll be relying on the most while in recovery are also the people with whom your relationship will likely require some mending.

But mending these relationships is hard work. Addiction is known to fuel many fear-based behavioural patterns, like control and resentment.

During recovery, it’s of paramount importance that you take the time to set healthy boundaries within your support system to keep your interactions and communications civil and stress-free.

On the tail end of a challenging addiction, it’s extremely likely that you’ll pursue the approval of those closest to you in everything you do.

Keeping your interactions comfortable, then, can have many positive effects for everyone involved, and it can even decrease the likelihood of backsliding.

Why is boundary setting important for recovery?

A personal boundary can be defined as a physical, emotional, or mental limit that people set for themselves in order to safeguard their overall well-being.

They can help you feel balanced and in control of yourself. As such, the importance of setting boundaries clearly and honestly is very important in helping you recover smoothly.

Boundaries can…

Encourage self-esteem

With every boundary you set for yourself, you are reminding yourself of your own importance.

Throughout the course of your addiction, you’re likely to come to judge yourself too harshly and come to think of yourself as worthless. For every boundary you set, you are regaining your worth.

Encourage confidence

Setting boundaries involves putting yourself out there. It takes emotional vulnerability and clear communication.

You’ll find that setting a well-defined, healthy limit with someone you love will increase your self-assurance.

Provide good mental well-being

When setting boundaries, you’re given a sense of responsibility and self-awareness.

Not only can it help you feel proud, but it can help you develop healthier channels of communication and cultivate compassion, too.

Help deals with resentment

If you fail to set healthy boundaries, you are essentially giving others permission for their actions toward you.

An inability to confront and verbalize anger leads to resentment, and residual resentment leads you to return to the coping mechanism with which you’re most familiar – your addiction.

What boundaries should you set?

The boundaries you set should be based on your needs – not anyone else’s. Therefore, some of these may apply to you, while some may not:

Physical boundaries

Even around your family members and close friends, you may be uncomfortable with physical contact – even something as benign as a hug or a handshake.

This is perfectly normal, so if you feel uncomfortable being touched, let them know!

Emotional boundaries

Ensure that you are managing your own emotions for yourself, not to please others.

If you take responsibility for the moods and feelings of others, you’ll be unable to distinguish between your own emotions and those of your friends/family.

Mental boundaries

Your thoughts and opinions are worth hearing! Assign value to them (and to yourself) by making it clear that your opinions should be heard.

Conversely, make sure you’re keeping an open mind while hearing the thoughts of others, too.

Sexual boundaries

Say no when you feel uncomfortable. Nobody but you are in control of your sexual boundaries.

Material boundaries

If you’re asked to loan people things that you aren’t comfortable lending out – money, cars, clothes, anything – maintain clear limits with your friends and family in a way that’s assertive and steady.

How to set boundaries through your recovery

People have different communication styles. Many value direct, honest feedback, while others prefer a more tactful approach.

It’s important when communicating your boundaries to adopt an approach that covers all bases. In other words – be firm and direct; don’t be overzealous and rude.

Words matter, especially when communicating boundaries. After all, you’re telling somebody you love that you don’t find their behaviour acceptable. The best way to be respectful is to:

  • Stick to the facts;
  • Avoid assumptions;
  • Use ‘I’ statements; and
  • Focus on your experiences, not the other person’s.

For example, say ‘I find it uncomfortable when you pat me on the shoulder like that,’ followed by ‘I’d prefer a handshake or a high-five from now on.’

Remember, the purpose of setting boundaries is to let someone know that you aren’t okay with their behaviour.

They might still react defensively, but if you’re setting a healthy boundary from a place of self-care in a respectful manner, you’ll be able to acknowledge their reaction without feeling like it’s your job to fix it.

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