By: Judy H. Wright
Setting personal boundaries are like identifying the gates in our invisible fence lines which protects the precious heart and soul inside our bodies. Many people look at boundaries as walls, but rather when we establish healthy boundaries it provides a way to distinguish what we choose to let in and let out. They form flexible gates, not stationary walls It is important to learn about setting healthy boundaries so we can make decisions about what is and what isn’t permissible in all relationships.
Boundaries are valuable
All relationships work more harmoniously when the participants know what to expect and what is expected of them. Being kind, but firm when stating what you need from a relationship allows the other person to reciprocate. How other people act and think often has nothing to do with you, but rather with their own perceptions. You can only take care of yourself.
It doesn’t matter how elaborate the fencing and eloquent our statements are, if we don’t honor ourselves enough to draw the line and stick to it consistently. It is just as valuable to the other person that they learn how to be with you and what the guidelines are for the relationship.
Body Language and tone of voice
Verbal communication is the language of information and only 20% is absorbed. Body language and tone of voice is the language of relationships and 80% is remembered. Make sure you appear confident and you speak with a neutral, calm and non-accusing tone when establishing your boundaries. Use “I” statements which reflect on how things affect you, rather than “you” statements which put people on the defensive.
4 Step model for setting boundaries
1. Calmly inform the other person by stating, “I feel uncomfortable and want to shut down when you yell at me.”
2. Request that they honor your boundary. “I ask that you talk to me without yelling.” Or ..For me to listen and hear what you are saying to me, I need to you speak to me in a calm voice without yelling.
3. Insist that they honor your boundary, again with a firm but kind voice, “I insist that when we are talking we talk in calm voices.”
4. Leave the situation. Now is not the time or place to continue communicating with someone who refuses to respect your boundaries. Leave the door open to talk later in a more respectful manner. Continue to maintain a calm but firm voice and say, “I will not continue this conversation in this way. I welcome an opportunity to talk with you without yelling or screaming at another time. Let me know if you decide to visit without raised voices.”
Don’t take it personally
You can not assume responsibility for other people’s feelings, agendas or methods of communication. You can only state how you desire to be treated in life. If there are old patterns, it may take some time to convince others that you are serious about sticking to your boundaries. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and courtesy.
People you know may be surprised at first when you tell them they have crossed the line, but will respect you more in the end. Hopefully, they will model this communication style and it will make for more honest and open relationships for all.
© Judy H. Wright, Parent educator and Author
About the Author: Judy H. Wright is an author of many parenting and family relation books and articles. Ezines, blogs and monthly specials as well as books, workshops, CD’s are available at her website: ArtichokePress.com To schedule a training session, write JudyWright@ArtichokePress.com or call 406-549-9813.
By: Mark Sichel, LCSW
1. Zip it. Do not respond in anger or fear to a family member. Keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself as you think about the most harmonious and helpful way to deal with your relative.
2. Listen and do not argue. Hear what your family member is saying and feeling. Feelings are feelings…they are never right or wrong and sometimes people just need their family members to listen and to let them know they are being understood.
3. Keep good boundaries and make sure not to violate your family member’s personal space. Give space when your relative needs space.
4.Promise yourself that you will stay in the driver’s seat and remain in control of your emotions.
5.Use the principle of “what you see is what you get:” with your family, because you cannot change them; you can only change your reactions and responses to them.
6.Focus on building up rather than tearing down your relative. Focus on their positives and ignore their negatives.
7.Put yourself in your family member’s shoes and try to empathize about what they must feel.
8.Don’t dredge up old battles and try to change the past. You cannot. You can, however, focus on making the present and future positive.
9.Build shared experiences with your family member that are positive, fun, life affirming and will serve as building blocks to a good relationship.
10.Get support and help from other family members, self help groups, therapy, or whatever and wherever you find it, give yourself the support you need to make this relationship different than in the past and create a bond that will serve you well in building family.
Copyright © 2004 Mark Sichel
About the Author: Mark Sichel is a psychotherapist, consultant, and speaker on a broad range of issues related to family, mental health, and interpersonal problems. He is the editor and principal author of the award winning self-help website, www.psybersquare.com. For a more detailed guide to overcoming a dysfunctional family, read Mark Sichel’s book, Healing From Family Rifts: Ten Steps to Finding Peace After Being Cut Off From a Family (Mc-Graw-Hill, 2004). For more information about this book visit the author’s website: www.marksichel.com
Listening. This is a vital ingredient to a healthy relationship, and proper communication. Many women, like myself, are multi-taskers. This can be a problem when communicating. We are not really listening if our eyes are on our task and not on the person speaking to us. Eye contact is key. When we give the person speaking to us eye contact, we are forcing ourselves to listen to what they are saying. So, look the person in the eye, pay attention, and respond at the appropriate times during the conversation. When these concepts are applied, we should be well on our way to better communication and listening.
Copyright © Lara Velez
Communication is one of the most important parts of a healthy relationship. It is important to be honest when you are communicating with someone. Good, honest communication builds trust in a relationship. Listening is another important part of communication. It tells the other person that they are important to you. Always keep the lines of communication open and healthy in all of your relationships.
Copyright © Lara Velez