You often feel victimised, but you find it difficult to stand up for yourself? You keep agreeing to things you don’t really want to do just to keep the peace. In the book, Boundaries, by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend, you’ll find that boundaries are the foundation for healthy relationships. Creating stronger boundaries is not only empowering but the number one way to protect yourself.
What is a boundary?
A boundary is describes as a property line that defines ownership. It defines where your responsibility ends and someone else begins.
We have boundaries around our home or farm. If you own the property, you are responsible for that property. Sometimes people don’t take responsibility or control for what belong to them and because they don’t own their own problems, we end up owning them. For example, their tree falls over into my yard ruining my house and I end up having the problem.
What do I do?
Remember, non-owners are NOT responsible for the property of others, but it is only when there is a clear borderline, that I can tell the neighbour that the tree is not my problem, but his.
The same goes for relationships. Boundaries give us the ability to define the limits we set with other people. It indicates not only what we find acceptable and what not, but also where our responsibilities stop.
Steps to Set Good Boundaries
- Know your core Values.
Figure out what are the things that you absolutely must honour in your life. What is acceptable to you and what not. To help you identify your core Values contact Gerda at https://livelifecoach.co.za/contact
- Evaluate the current state of your boundaries.
If you find that you feel angry, resentful or are often complaining about the same matters, you probably need to set a boundary. Identify and list your areas of importance that are regularly being challenged by others. E.g. privacy, being on time, personal space, to function effectively, to help out, donate money etc.
- Decide the consequences when people cross your boundaries ahead of time and write it down.
People will push your boundaries. Decide what you are going to do or say when people cross them. (Remember, boundaries are about honouring your needs, not about judging other people’s choices). Only make rules you’re willing to enforce. You can’t change others and you are not responsible for the choices they make. But you can change yourself and how you deal with others. As Dr Cloud says, “Since you can’t change other people, change how you deal with them. They may be motivated to change if their old ways no longer work.”
- Be clear, specific and kind when communicating your boundaries.
First be clear to yourself about your boundaries, then communicate your boundaries in a respectful manner to the person involved. Sometimes we’re afraid to tell people what we really want. We hide our true feelings because we’re scared of people’s reactions. The key is to anchor yourself with your values. You can say e.g. “Your things keeps falling into my yard and it is really affecting me badly.
And that goes for things like your addiction/lateness/not paying bills/ lying/ non- performance/not finishing thing/not considering the consequences of our choices beforehand” etc. The more you anchor yourself with your boundaries and values, the more you’ll be able to communicate them, not only with words but also with your actions.
- Let your actions do the talking and not your words.
Protect your boundaries with your actions. One way to quickly get someone to question your character is when you say one thing and do another.
Download the Boundaries Worksheet
For support in setting healthy boundaries contact Gerda at https://livelifecoach.co.za/contact