My family, particularly my sister and I, are deep into the Enneagram. We recently found out that my mother, father, her, and myself are all twos on the Enneagram. It’s hilarious to me how we all play out our helper personalities. If you are not familiar with the Enneagram, twos are considered “The Helper”. They are always giving to others. Recently my sister and I had a conversation about boundaries and how difficult they can be to implement at times with our wanting to always help others. It really got me thinking about how boundaries are so important in our lives.
So what are boundaries? Webster’s Dictionary describes boundaries as “limits that define acceptable behavior.” We all have limits right? We have limits on how much we stay in the sun. We have limits on how much we eat. We have limits on how much we spend. What about limits in our relationships? Boundaries in our relationships can show others how we want to be treated. How many of us have tried to get sassy with our mother’s and they say “you will not talk to me that way?” Am I the only one who’s mother reacts that way? That is a boundary in which your mother is teaching you how to treat her. Boundaries also protect us. Without some limits we may experience burnout in our jobs, we may experience burnout in our relationships, and in general. I wasn’t always good with boundaries for two main reasons. 1. I didn’t want to feel like I was hurting someone’s feelings. 2. I had a fear of missing out at times. There were times in my life where I would continue to entertain relationships that were not helpful or positive because I didn’t want to feel like I was hurting the other person’s feelings. There were times I stayed at a job because I didn’t want to leave someone hanging but in turn I suffered. I can recall many times where lack of boundaries hurt me and the presence of boundaries have helped me. I can also recall how boundaries helped me particularly when I was going through difficult times in my life. So how do we set healthy boundaries to be the best person we can be to ourselves and those around us? Below are 10 ways we can use our voice to set healthy boundaries.
~Clearly identify the boundary.
Make sure the boundary it clear and easy to understand. Be specific and clear.
~Understand why you need the boundary.
When we can understand why we need the boundary it can help us with clearly identifying and explaining it to someone else.
Be direct in your explanation if the boundary.
~Don’t apologize or give long explanations as to why you set the boundary.
The boundary is something you need for you. Don’t apologize for taking care of you.
~Use a calm and polite tone when setting the boundary.
Boundaries don’t have to be negative or uncomfortable to establish. Share the information in a tone that you would want someone to use with you.
~Start with tighter boundaries (and loosen up if appropriate).
Boundaries can always be adjusted.
~Address violations of the boundary early. Don’t wait for it to become a pattern.
One of the worst things we can do is allow the boundary violation to become consistent before we address it. The earlier we address the boundary violation, the more likely we are to be able to conserve the relationship and stay on the right track.
~Don’t make it personal.
Boundaries are just what they are...boundaries. Don’t make it personal. I must add, just because a person creates a boundary with you doesn’t mean you are a bad person or anything is wrong with you. They need the boundary for them for whatever reason and that is okay.
~Use your support system to talk out your need for the boundary.
Talk to your village about the boundaries you need and why. Use them as a listening ear and sounding board.
~Trust your intuition.
If you feel like you need to establish a boundary but you are unsure, chances are you probably need to establish the boundary.
Boundaries can be essential in reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness. In addition they keep us safe emotionally, mentally, and physically. I encourage you to think about ways you can implement healthy boundaries to live a better life today and always... Be well, Be happy.