We have a doozy for you today!! There is a LOT about boundaries we can discuss, and we are putting so much into today’s blog. Grab your coffee/ tea and sit a minute with me, will you? Let’s chat about healthy boundaries.
We frequently talk about mental health and how to improve our mental health by making changes to our diet, to our surroundings, or even how we talk to ourselves. This week, we want to talk about our mental health and how we talk to others. We may not be able to change the way other people talk to us directly, but we can change the way we respond, which will impact how others talk to us in the future.
The holidays are right around the corner and it is peak season for avoidance and excuses when it comes to activities we don’t want to attend or people who have a dire need for you to be at their festivity.
What we DON’T want:
- An unhealthy number of activities that will cause stress and anxiety over scheduling
- An unhealthy number of activities that will cause stress on your family’s budget
- An unhealthy number of activities that will cause stress between you and your partner
- An unhealthy number of activities that will cause stress on your relationship with your children
What we DO want:
- A healthy number of activities that you feel comfortable attending
- A healthy number of activities that will allow for some fun, but won’t break your budget
- A healthy number of activities that will allow for personal time between you and your partner
- A healthy number of activities that will work in your schedule with both your life and your children’s lives
Family is a tough topic to talk about for a lot of people. How do you change boundaries that have been in place for your whole life? How do you get family members to listen to you when you need to change the relationship? You change it carefully with intentional words, with grace and understanding, and with empathy. Here are some tips on changing your boundaries with family members:
1: Choose How You Approach– Often times, family members know, intentionally or unintentionally, how to cause a flash of anger better than anyone else you know. Instead of leaning into that anger and lashing out, try taking a moment and getting your thoughts together and respond with compassion.
2: “No” is a complete sentence– Telling someone “no” when they ask you to do something you are uncomfortable with is an acceptable answer. If you feel like expanding, on the why, here are some helpful phrases: “No, I feel uncomfortable”; “No, I’m not interested in being spoken to like that”; “No, I don’t want to have this conversation”; or “No, this is not appropriate”.
3: “I” Phrases– A productive way to communicate new boundaries is using statements that flow like this: “When you do/ say _____________, I feel ___________________.” This clearly communicates to the other person in a less threatening way that the actions they have portrayed are hurtful to you without telling them they were wrong and causing a defense mechanism within them.
4: Naturally occurring Consequences– Make realistic consequences for behavior that is not changed. After you have communicated your new boundaries, letting the person know that you are serious and that their behavior will not be allowed is important. Leaving the room or hanging up the phone are good examples of realistic consequences. Choosing not to be part of something you’ve already created the boundary for is a natural consequence of overstepping.
5: Process Your Feelings– If a boundary is crossed, you do not have to act on it immediately. If you need to process your emotions, take the time to do that by going on a walk, meditating, or calling someone close to you. Make sure that you address it when you are ready, though. Not addressing the issue tells the violator that you are accepting that behavior. It also doesn’t do great things for your body and emotions.
6: Don’t Take it Personally– When people that are not used to having boundaries set suddenly have someone enforcing them, they may act out or react negatively. It doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong, it means that they are learning, too. Allow that person space to sort through their own emotions.
7: Listen to Your Body Signs– As we have talked about in other blog posts, many different organs within our bodies are connected to our emotions. We have instincts programmed into our bodies for a reason. If an instinct like a pit in your stomach shows itself, it is because your body is communicating to you. Listen to it and what it is telling you.
Friends are people we choose to have in our lives. That may make it a little more difficult for us to see that boundaries have been crossed. We often open up to friends more than we do to family. So, understanding when boundaries have been crossed and making changes to keep the friendship healthy are imperative to our own health.
Here are some tips on changing your boundaries with friends:
1: Guilt & Fear vs. Affection & Trust– Being in an emotionally manipulative relationship may not be easy to spot. It can look like be guilted into participating in things or sharing information that you are not comfortable sharing. Being scared into doing things or providing information is also not healthy. Try setting boundaries with your friend(s) that allow you to share information that you are comfortable with.
2: Inconsistency & One-Sided Relationships vs. Consistency & Mutuality– I think we all know the person who makes plans and either doesn’t show or comes reallllllly late. I’m sure we have all had a friend at one time who you feel that you give and give only for them to never return the love. Relationships like that are not healthy to be in. Talk with your friend and communicate that you would like them to honor your time and your effort by being on time, showing up to plans with you, and reciprocating the effort that you put into the relationship.
3: Gossip & Backstabbing vs. Privacy & Openness– Having a friend who values your privacy and who is open with you is a healthy relationship. Setting boundaries with people that have proven to you that they don’t deserve the information, time, or trust that you have given them is very important to keeping your mental health a priority.
4: Toxicity vs. Safety– If you have a friend that is toxic? Do you feel that you need to have your guard up around them? Do you fear that your words will be used against you? Feeling safe around your friends will lead to a stronger relationship. Can you share with this friend without fear of judgement or shame? This is a healthy friendship.
Coworkers are a sneaky group that many people may not realize the need to set boundaries with. Have an overbearing coworker who constantly tries to push their beliefs onto you? What about the coworker that asks too many intrusive questions? How about the coworker who has an attitude and pushes it toward you?
Here are some tips on changing your boundaries with coworkers:
1: Interpersonal Boundaries– Tone of voice, attitude toward others, limiting conversational topics (exclude religion, extra-personal information, etc.). Providing too much information to coworkers can lead to bullying, too many questions, or being treated differently. Not setting these boundaries allows for people to ask you too many personal questions that are not healthy in the relationship that you have with them. It is normal and healthy for you to tell your coworkers “No” or “I’m not comfortable giving you that information”.
2: Personal Boundaries– Limiting access to your work by leaving your laptop at work, not answering work emails or phone calls while at home, not working while you are on vacation or with family, or making the effort to unplug are good examples of setting boundaries for yourself. Having a toxic relationship with work is not beneficial for you or your family. If you feel that your employer is asking too much of you while you are not at work, try communicating this with them. If you are working from home, use set hours for work and keep your laptop, phone, etc. in a separate room during non-work hours.
Setting boundaries isn’t easy for everyone. If you don’t succeed immediately, just think of this as an opportunity to refine your strategy, level up to where you are desiring to be – rise up. Setting boundaries is an important skill to have. Learn over time what works with certain people and move forward with that knowledge. Remember that you have the capability to make the changes you need for your life. Trust yourself to make those changes.