Creating healthy boundaries with loved ones can be difficult, especially if you never learned how to create them as a child or they were rarely respected when you did. But however difficult, boundaries are essential for your well-being and your relationships. After all, when you set clear boundaries, you make the people around you aware of your limits, giving them a chance to adjust their behaviour. Those who disregard your boundaries are people you may not want in your life anyway.
This blog post will explore what boundaries are, how they can help to foster more loving and harmonious relationships, and how to maintain boundaries when you do set them.
What are boundaries?
A boundary separates your physical space, your emotions, needs, and responsibilities from others. When you set a boundary, you are recognizing where you end, and another person begins. But before you can set a boundary, you must practice self-awareness and vulnerability. Self-awareness helps you understand what happens in your body when your universal needs are being crossed and vulnerability helps you understand what those needs are in the first place.
For instance, if someone swears at you, you may feel that your need for respect is being crossed. If someone doesn’t pay what they owe, maybe your need for fairness has been crossed. If you are not cognizant of your needs, you will not know that a transgression has occurred, and therefore cannot set an appropriate boundary.
Setting a boundary does not mean shunning or shaming another person, especially if they weren’t aware that a boundary existed. Boundaries allow you to say no while remaining connected to the people around you. Some examples of boundaries include:
- Saying no
- Being respected
- Asking for space
- Changing your mind
- Being told the truth
Creating healthy boundaries in relationships
It can be scary to set a boundary in a relationship when you’ve been conditioned to think that “all’s fair in love and war.” But sharing your boundaries in a relationship helps keep the relationship strong and gives permission to your partner to share their own boundaries.
When setting boundaries in relationships, it’s crucial to know what is negotiable and what the dealbreakers are. For instance, negotiations may be how you handle your finances, how often you have sex, and how you parent your children. Dealbreakers might be infidelity, domestic violence, drug abuse, and more.
Before you set a boundary with your partner, be sure that the boundary is realistic, fair, and sustainable. Find a time to talk when you are both calm and undistracted and make sure that you are not setting the boundary out of anger or as a punishment. Be clear and assertive and let your partner know what the consequences are if they break your boundary. They should also feel free to set their own boundaries if they need to. Love and respect should flow both ways.
How to set a boundary and stick with it
If your family or your partner’s family were not skilled in creating or respecting boundaries, there are bound to be some minor infractions along the way. Unless the boundary is a dealbreaker, leave room for mistakes as your boundary takes root and assert to your partner again that your boundary has been crossed. Be firm, but also compassionate.
It’s also helpful to remember that boundaries can change over time because people change over time. Being open and communicative with those around you will help you navigate different situations to decide what is best for you in each scenario.
How the Hoffman Process helps people create boundaries
During the Hoffman Process, participants are allowed to feel safe in their body so they can identify what occurs inside them when a universal need has not been met. For some, they may not know they need a boundary unless a transgression has occurred, and they physically react. Your body gives the best clues, and the Hoffman Process allows space to reflect on these clues and take appropriate action.
During the Process, you will also build resilience in the face of interpersonal risks, e.g., setting a boundary, and asking for it to be respected. As social beings, we all feel the need to belong, and you may fear that setting a boundary will turn you into an outcast. But your facilitators and fellow participants will not reject you for simply asking for what you need and deserve.
Find out more about how the Hoffman Process can help you set and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships.
This article was contributed by Erica Garza. Follow @ericadgarza on Instagram