The key to any healthy relationship is creating emotional boundaries. It is a skill that many of us have yet to do as effectively as we would like. Sure, we pick up pieces here and there after seeing others skillfully manage boundaries, for most people this concept is as new as it is challenging.
Here are 5 ways you can build emotional boundaries and maintain them:
Identify & Set Your Limits
It’s impossible to set boundaries if you don’t know where your limits are. So, identify them (on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level) and know what you feel comfortable tolerating and what leaves you feeling stressed.
There are two feelings and thoughts that you should consider to be red flags because they make you vulnerable to letting your boundaries slip. These two feelings are resentment and discomfort. On a scale of 1-10, you’re likely hitting within the range of 6- 10 of wen you notice you are experiencing these feelings and thoughts. If you reach that place in a situation or during an interaction it’s time to ask yourself some serious questions. What is it about this situation of interaction that is causing this feeling? Resentment often stems from the experience of not being appreciated and it is a clear sign that you are likely pushing yourself beyond your limits.
When you have a similar communication style as someone else it won’t be too difficult to maintain your boundaries. However, when you deal with someone who doesn’t follow the same style of communication you will need to be direct when it comes to your emotional boundaries. Whether it’s letting your partner know how much time you need with them or without them. Being direct is being assertive.
Guilt & Self Awareness
You don’t need to feel guilty about maintaining your emotional boundaries, they are healthy and a clear sign of self-respect. Self-respect breeds respect in relationships. Emotional boundaries are also about understanding your feelings and honoring them. When you feel yours starting to slip ask yourself why and how you’re going to regain control.
Your upbringing may have something to do with your ability to set and maintain boundaries. If you held a caretaker role within your family, you may be quicker to focus on others which is likely to lead to burnout. Also, consider your environment. For example, in a working environment you may put in your eight hours and walk away, but there may be others who choose to work longer which may cause you to feel guilty about the boundaries you have established for yourself.
Self-Care & Support
Making everyone else a priority beside yourself is the quickest way to go backward. If you are not prioritizing yourself, you will be much less capable of serving others. Self-care is important to everyone, it will make you a better parent, friend, a spouse, a coworker, and person overall.
Also, if maintaining your boundaries is something that you struggle with then you should seek the support of a counselor who is able to work on how to set those boundaries and stick to them.
When you’re creating emotional boundaries, you might find it difficult to maintain them so don’t be afraid to be assertive. Start with one small boundary and work your way up to those that are more challenging and then build on your successes. And if you want to talk to someone, pick up the phone and give me a call.