Boundary: “something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent.”
Within life there are many opportunities to develop boundaries. They range from safety boundaries, like not drinking unless you have a designated DD - to emotional boundaries like not allowing someone to tear you down. Since boundaries are something that everyone has, then why is it so hard develop them in regards to relationships?
You often do not realize that you need to set a boundary until someone does something that harms you. For example, a friend may tell a joke at your expense that tears you down in the process. You might decide that this is not something you are OK with, so you can set a boundary. You might decide that the first boundary is to talk to your friend and ask them to stop, and from there you can adjust or change the boundary depending on what happens. From then on you know that this is a boundary, and if you encounter a similar situation it will be easier for you to handle.
To prevent the sting of being hurt we need to start making boundaries at the beginning of relationships rather than waiting until the harm has been done. Taking the time to set boundaries allows you to take the time to invest in yourself. In the process of creating and maintain boundaries you learn more about who you are and who you want to be.
I believe that everyone needs to take the time to set down and list out their boundaries when it comes to relationships, all relationships (even close ones). As a relationship progresses, new boundaries need to be created or old ones can be altered. For example, when you first meet someone you may have a lot of boundaries but as your relationship grows and you develop trust then those boundaries will start to change.
Boundaries within different life settings:
Boundaries within the family allow each member of the family to understand their place within the system. For example, the child understands their role as the child due to the boundaries that have been put into place by their parents. The parents are the rule setters and enforcers rather than the child. You might want to place boundaries on your parents as well. Boundaries are especially important when you are dealing with a person within your family that is struggling with an addiction. In this instance, setting boundaries helps you to not enable the unhealthy individual.
Many people have felt as if they have been involved in a “one-sided friendship.” This happens when you feel like you offer support (emotional, or other) to a friend, but when you need some help with something, your friend is nowhere to be found. This is something that you might not realize right away and you do not want to list out all your boundaries with someone when you first meet them, so what do you do? You pay attention. If you notice red flags or continued close calls to your boundary lines then start to back away. Stick to your boundaries. This will allow those who are closest to you to be people you can rely on and trust.
Boundaries within a intimate partner relationship are one of the most important boundaries to create. This is due to this relationship having the most to be “lost.” Relationships need to be about two individual people coming together to form a team rather than them coming together to lose each of themselves. Boundaries prevent you from losing yourself. A good example of a romantic relationship boundary is that you and your partner can explain what happens personally when you get frustrated, and how you’d like to handle it. If you’ve discussed that you are bad at being polite when you are mad, and you need to cool down before talking extensively - then feelings will be less likely to get hurt the next time there is an argument.
How do you make boundaries? Boundaries can be made and created in different ways for different people depending on their circumstance. A good place to start when creating your boundaries are with these 10 steps that were developed by Dr. Dana Gionta;
1. Name your limits.
2. Tune into your feelings.
3. Be direct.
4. Give yourself permission.
5. Practice self-awareness.
6. Consider your past and present.
7. Make self-care a priority.
8. Seek support.
9. Be assertive.
10. Start small.
(Margarita Tarakovsky, PsychCentral)
These steps can be used within any environment or relationship to help you create boundaries. Once boundaries are created, you will be able to know where you stand as an individual person and as a person involved in many relationships.
Boundaries do not prevent us from experiencing life, rather they allow us to experience life to its fullest on our own terms.
“Boundaries define us.They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for, gives me freedom.” Henry Cloud
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About Sam Nabil
Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Boston therapist and a Boston Marriage Counselor.
Sam offers therapy in Boston and Boston Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety.
Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university , Yahoo News, USA Today, Marriage.com
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