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Creating Healthy Boundaries: Protecting Yourself and Your Relationships

People tend to make us feel that being friends, family or otherwise means that they should treat us any way they'd like. I once had a very close friend tell me "Well, you're my best friend, so I'm going to push the button and try to convince you anyway"; I couldn't believe my ears! Here I was being vulnerable, sharing what I needed for my mental and emotional health and immediately being told that my needs did not matter. As if that wasn't enough, some relatives persistently critique me or make sly remarks about my faith, "Oh, you go to church now, so you're holy now, I forgot." Not only are these comments hurtful, they show a lack of respect and disregard for my boundaries.

Boundaries are intended to draw a line, set parameters of how far you can go, in essence they provide protection. Thus, setting boundaries are essential in all aspects of life. When doing so, you must be adamant on your stance and hold anyone accountable for not adhering to them. And just how do you do that? Let's take a look at some action steps.

Boundaries in Your Personal Life

  1. Explain honestly and respectfully how you feel when the perpetrator oversteps your boundary.

  2. Be consistent in holding individuals accountable when they cross the line.

  3. It is ok to disengage with those who require multiple reminders of how they have overstepped your boundaries.

  4. Think about ways to model how you want others to treat you

Boundaries in Your Professional Life

  1. Your coworkers are not your friends.

  2. Do not overshare intimate details.

  3. Be solutions based when faced with conflicts.

  4. Have honest conversations about feeling overwhelmed, needing help, or other factors that affect your job performance.


Why do We Allow People to Overstep Boundaries?

Now that we know the intent of boundaries, let's talk about why so many people are comfortable crossing them. Quite frankly, those who do, flat out just do not think you are worthy of respect. For instance, parents can be repeat offenders in this area of relationships because of their predetermined notion of "I'm the parent", so they feel entitled to having a level of authority that should override your personal opinions. However, it is necessary to understand that what we allow to happen is exactly what others will do! Another reason boundaries are crossed is due to the uncomfortability we feel when we think about having to correct people we care for. When we feel this way, we need to stop and think "Does this person care that they are offending me?" "Are they considering my feelings?" "Do they care about the standards I've set for myself?". If you answered no to any of these questions, then you should push past the uncomfortability and stand up for yourself.

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