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 Post subject: Identifying, Setting and Maintaining Boundaries
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:23 pm 
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Setting Healthy Boundaries: Allowing the True Self to Emerge

Healthy boundaries create healthy relationships. Unhealthy boundaries create dysfunctional ones. By establishing clear boundaries, we define ourselves in relation to others. To do this, however, we must be able to identify and respect our needs, feelings, opinions, and rights. Otherwise our efforts would be like putting a fence around a yard without knowing the property lines.

Those of us raised in dysfunctional families have probably had little experience with healthy boundaries. Therefore, learning how to establish them must be an important goal in our personal growth. In order to achieve this, however, we must overcome low self-esteem and passivity; learn to identify and respect our rights and needs; and become skilled at assertively taking care of ourselves in relationships. This process allows our true selves to emerge, and healthy boundaries become the fences that keep us safe - something we may never have experienced in childhood.

Boundaries can be physical or emotional. Physical boundaries define who can touch us, how someone can touch us, and how physically close another may approach us. Emotional boundaries define where our feelings end and another's begins. For example, do we take responsibility for our feelings and needs, and allow others to do the same? Or do we feel overly responsible for the feelings and needs of others and neglect our own? Are we able to say "no"? Can we ask for what we need? Are we compulsive people pleasers? Do we become upset simply because others are upset around us? Do we mimic the opinions of whomever we are around? The answers to these questions help define the "property lines" of our emotional boundaries.

Together, our physical and emotional boundaries define how we interact with others, and how we allow others to interact with us. Without boundaries, others could touch us in any way they wanted, do whatever they wished with our possessions, and treat us in any way they desired. In addition, we would believe everyone else's bad behaviors are our fault, take on everyone's else's problems as our own, and feel like we have no right to any rights. In short, our lives would chaotic and out of our control.

Boundaries can be too rigid or too loose. Those whose boundaries are too rigid literally shut out everyone from their lives. They appear aloof and distant, and do not talk about feelings or show emotions. They exhibit extreme self-sufficiency, and do not ask for help. They do not allow anyone to get physically or emotionally close to them. It is as if they live in a house surrounded by an immense wall with no gates. No one is allowed in.

Those whose boundaries are too loose ...[may] confuse sex and love, be driven to be in a sexual relationship, and get too close to others too fast. They may take on the feelings of others as their own, easily become emotionally overwhelmed, give too much, take too much, and be in constant need of reassurance. They may expect others to read their minds, think they can read the minds of others, say "yes" when they want to say "no," and feel responsible for the feelings of others. Those with loose boundaries often lead chaotic lives, full of drama, as if they lived in houses with no fences, gates, locks, or even doors.

Those with healthy boundaries are firm but flexible. They give support and accept it. They respect their feelings, needs, opinions, and rights, and those of others, but are clear about their separateness. They are responsible for their own happiness and allow others to be responsible for their happiness. They are assertive and respectful of the rights of others to be assertive. They are able to negotiate and compromise, have empathy for others, are able to make mistakes without damaging their self-esteem, and have an internal sense of personal identity. They respect diversity. Those with healthy boundaries are comfortable with themselves, and make others comfortable around them. They live in houses with fences and gates that allow access only to those who respect their boundaries

Learning to set healthy boundaries can feel uncomfortable, even scary, because it may go against the grain of the survival skills we learned in childhood - particularly if our caretakers were physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive. For example, we may have learned to repress our anger or other painful emotions because we would have been attacked and blamed for expressing the very pain the abuse had caused. Thus, attempting to set healthy boundaries as an adult may initially be accompanied by anxiety, but we must learn to work through these conditioned fears, or we will never have healthy relationships. But this process of growth takes time, and our motto should always be, "Progress not perfection."

Here are some tips for setting healthy boundaries, modified from the book, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, by Anne Katherine:

* When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, preferably without anger, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify, apologize for, or rationalize the boundary you are setting. Do not argue! Just set the boundary calmly, firmly, clearly, and respectfully.

* You can’t set a boundary and take care of someone else’s feelings at the same time. You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for communicating the boundary in a respectful manner. If others get upset with you, that is their problem. If they no longer want your friendship, then you are probably better off without them. You do not need "friends" who disrespect your boundaries.

* At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty, or embarrassed when you set a boundary. Do it anyway, and tell yourself you have a right to take care of yourself. Setting boundaries takes practice and determination. Don't let anxiety or low self-esteem prevent you from taking care of yourself.

* When you feel anger or resentment, or find yourself whining or complaining, you probably need to set a boundary. Listen to yourself, then determine what you need to do or say. Then communicate your boundary assertively. When you are confident you can set healthy boundaries with others, you will have less need to put up walls.

* When you set boundaries, you might be tested, especially by those accustomed to controlling you, abusing you, or manipulating you. Plan on it, expect it, but be firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You can not establish a clear boundary successfully if you send a mixed message by apologizing for doing so. Be firm, clear, and respectful.

* Most people are willing to respect your boundaries, but some are not. Be prepared to be firm about your boundaries when they are not being respected. If necessary, put up a wall by ending the relationship. In extreme cases, you might have to involve the police or judicial system by sending a no-contact letter or obtaining a restraining order.

* Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. You will set boundaries when you are ready. It’s your growth in your own time frame, not what someone else tells you. Let your counselor or support group help you with pace and process.

* Develop a support system of people who respect your right to set boundaries. Eliminate toxic persons from your life - those who want to manipulate you, abuse you, and control you.

* Setting healthy boundaries allows your true self to emerge – and what an exciting journey that is.

Excerpted from Serenity Online Therapy

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying, Setting and Maintaining Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:35 pm 
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Just a reminder to read this post again!

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying, Setting and Maintaining Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 2:15 am 
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Another well-written how-to for (and reminder about the importance of) setting boundaries:

Quote:
10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries
By Margarita Tartakovsky
2011

Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn, according to psychologist and coach Dana Gionta, Ph.D. We might pick up pointers here and there from experience or through watching others. But for many of us, boundary-building is a relatively new concept and a challenging one.

Having healthy boundaries means “knowing and understanding what your limits are,” Dr. Gionta said.

Below, she offers insight into building better boundaries and maintaining them.

1. Name your limits.

You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits, Gionta said. Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. “Those feelings help us identify what our limits are.”

2. Tune into your feelings.

Gionta has observed two key feelings in others that are red flags or cues that we’re letting go of our boundaries: discomfort and resentment. She suggested thinking of these feelings on a continuum from one to 10. Six to 10 is in the higher zone, she said.

If you’re at the higher end of this continuum, during an interaction or in a situation, Gionta suggested asking yourself, what is causing that? What is it about this interaction, or the person’s expectation that is bothering me?

Resentment usually “comes from being taken advantage of or not appreciated.” It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits because we feel guilty (and want to be a good daughter or wife, for instance), or someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on us, she said.

“When someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue to us they may be violating or crossing a boundary,” Gionta said.

3. Be direct.

With some people, maintaining healthy boundaries doesn’t require a direct and clear-cut dialogue. Usually, this is the case if people are similar in their communication styles, views, personalities and general approach to life, Gionta said. They’ll “approach each other similarly.”

With others, such as those who have a different personality or cultural background, you’ll need to be more direct about your boundaries. Consider the following example: “one person feels [that] challenging someone’s opinions is a healthy way of communicating,” but to another person this feels disrespectful and tense.

There are other times you might need to be direct. For instance, in a romantic relationship, time can become a boundary issue, Gionta said. Partners might need to talk about how much time they need to maintain their sense of self and how much time to spend together.

4. Give yourself permission.

Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls, Gionta said. We might fear the other person’s response if we set and enforce our boundaries. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member. Many believe that they should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because they’re a good daughter or son, even though they “feel drained or taken advantage of.” We might wonder if we even deserve to have boundaries in the first place.

Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect. So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.

5. Practice self-awareness.

Again, boundaries are all about honing in on your feelings and honoring them. If you notice yourself slipping and not sustaining your boundaries, Gionta suggested asking yourself: What’s changed? Consider “What I am doing or [what is] the other person doing?” or “What is the situation eliciting that’s making me resentful or stressed?” Then, mull over your options: “What am I going to do about the situation? What do I have control over?”

6. Consider your past and present.

How you were raised along with your role in your family can become additional obstacles in setting and preserving boundaries. If you held the role of caretaker, you learned to focus on others, letting yourself be drained emotionally or physically, Gionta said. Ignoring your own needs might have become the norm for you.

Also, think about the people you surround yourself with, she said. “Are the relationships reciprocal?” Is there a healthy give and take?

Beyond relationships, your environment might be unhealthy, too. For instance, if your workday is eight hours a day, but your co-workers stay at least 10 to 11, “there’s an implicit expectation to go above and beyond” at work, Gionta said. It can be challenging being the only one or one of a few trying to maintain healthy boundaries, she said. Again, this is where tuning into your feelings and needs and honoring them becomes critical.

7. Make self-care a priority.

Gionta helps her clients make self-care a priority, which also involves giving yourself permission to put yourself first. When we do this, “our need and motivation to set boundaries become stronger,” she said. Self-care also means recognizing the importance of your feelings and honoring them. These feelings serve as “important cues about our wellbeing and about what makes us happy and unhappy.”

Putting yourself first also gives you the “energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there” for them.” And “When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend.”

8. Seek support.

If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, “seek some support, whether [that’s a] support group, church, counseling, coaching or good friends.” With friends or family, you can even make “it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together [and] hold each other accountable.”

Consider seeking support through resources, too. Gionta likes the following books: The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time and Boundaries in Marriage (along with several books on boundaries by the same authors).

9. Be assertive.

Of course, we know that it’s not enough to create boundaries; we actually have to follow through. Even though we know intellectually that people aren’t mind readers, we still expect others to know what hurts us, Gionta said. Since they don’t, it’s important to assertively communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary.

In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular is bothersome to you and that you can work together to address it, Gionta said.

10. Start small.

Like any new skill, assertively communicating your boundaries takes practice. Gionta suggested starting with a small boundary that isn’t threatening to you, and then incrementally increasing to more challenging boundaries. “Build upon your success, and [at first] try not to take on something that feels overwhelming.”

“Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support,” Gionta said. And remember that it’s a skill you can master.

PsychCentral

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying, Setting and Maintaining Boundaries
PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:17 pm 
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Quote:
5 Ways to Maintain Boundaries with Difficult People
By Margarita Tartakovsky

Maintaining healthy boundaries with difficult people can be, well, difficult.

That’s because they don’t want you to have boundaries in the first place, said Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and executive director of Wasatch Family Therapy, a private practice in Utah.

It may not be a conscious decision. “It’s often the only relationship strategy they know.” But regardless of whether it’s intentional, the result is the same: Your boundary has been violated.

How can you stand your ground? Here are five suggestions.


1. Realize that your needs are important.

“When you doubt your own importance, you’re allowing the manipulations of difficult people to gain a foothold,” said Ryan Howes, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist in Pasadena, Calif. However, when you understand that your time, money, dignity and needs are vital to your well-being, it’s easier to tune out people who want to break your boundaries, he said.

If you doubt your importance, he suggested the following:

  • Be with people who value you. “Your social group is like a mirror, reflecting your value back to you.” You can surround yourself with selfish, difficult people who reflect you have little self-worth, which you eventually start to believe. Or you can surround yourself with caring, loving people and start believing that you’re also worthy of love and care, he said.
  • See a therapist. Therapy helps you build self-worth and pinpoint the obstacles that prevent you from valuing yourself.
  • Be objective. Create a list of the ways you make the world a better place, he said. For instance, you’re someone’s good friend, you make your spouse smile on a regular basis, and you’re committed to recycling. “Just being human means you deserve fundamental rights and respect, but if you look a little deeper you might find unique qualities you can appreciate about yourself.”
  • Be fair. “If you believe all people deserve respect, this includes you. If you allow others to treat you like dirt, and you believe they’re entitled to do so, you’re not being fair.”

2. Be firm and kind.

Being firm doesn’t mean being callous, belittling or hurting another person, said Hanks, author of The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide for Overwhelmed Women. “You can be firm and loving, firm and validating.”

For instance, you’ve gone on several dates with the same person, but you just don’t click. You let the person know, but they keep persisting and want to continue the relationship. According to Hanks, you might say: “I really enjoyed our time but I’m not interested in pursuing a relationship. Please don’t contact me. I wish you the best.”

3. Have realistic expectations.

“If you know the person is difficult for you to have a relationship with and doesn’t respect your boundaries, limit the amount of time, or the place of your interaction so you can have healthy boundaries,” said Hanks, who also pens the Psych Central blog Private Practice Toolbox.

4. Walk away.

“Many times it is important to confront difficult people to have a voice, stand up for yourself, and maybe even put them in their place,” said Howes, also author of the blog In Therapy. But sometimes walking away is a better approach.

He likened it to a tornado coming your way: Rather than face it, the best response is to retreat. Some people are simply too toxic to confront, he said.

If you’re talking on the phone, the equivalent is to end the conversation. In her clinical practice, Hanks often sees boundary violations play out with ex-spouses. For instance, your ex-husband calls to talk about your child. However, the conversation shifts, and he starts making derogatory remarks about your new boyfriend. You explain that your relationship isn’t up for discussion, but he continues to pry. That’s when you decide to hang up, Hanks said.

5. Remind yourself you’re in charge.

Remember that how you approach boundaries is really up to you. Difficult people want you to believe that you’re over-reacting, said Jan Black, author of Better Boundaries: Owning and Treasuring Your Life. Take the example of your brother regularly ridiculing your spiritual beliefs at family gatherings. When you ask him to stop, he says that you just don’t know how to take a joke.

“Do you grin and bear it? Stop going to family events if he’s there? Lash back at him about his lazy-ass efforts at getting a job? Invite him to breakfast to find out what it is about your spiritual beliefs that concern him? Write him a letter asking him to stop? Work out an agreement that signals him when he’s on the edge of going too far?”

Again, this is your decision – not his or the person who’s trying to cross your boundary, she said. Assess the situation and figure out how you’d like to enforce your limits.

Ultimately, when difficult people violate your boundaries, you can use it as an opportunity to better understand who you are and what’s important to you, and to “develop the voice to claim [your] territory and declare [your] value.”

PsychCentral

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying, Setting and Maintaining Boundaries
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:02 pm 
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i dont know how i've never seen this thread. it's great.

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