Love & Relationships

Establishing Healthy Boundaries

10.14.10 Healthy Boundaries

Healthy boundaries are necessary in every area of a person’s life, especially friendships.  To paraphrase one of the greats, a relationship border serves like a property line between two people.  This border makes a striking, conspicuous line, making no mistakes where one person’s limits ends and the other’s freedom begins. Boundaries protect us by keeping the good things, and just as important, eliminating the bad things. When you strike the perfect balance by letting others know what we will and will not tolerate, a healthy relationship evolves.

Many times friends might not understand the need for boundaries and might misinterpret the establishing of boundaries as being rude or uncaring.  However, the most caring relationships require boundaries so that each friend can honor each other as an individual and even protect some of the most valuable and deepest parts of your core. Take a look at the list below. Protection of these things on this list are key to keeping your soul, mind, and not to mention your relationship, healthy and flourishing.

—–     Your love: your deepest capacity to connect and trust others

—–     Your emotions: your need to own your feelings and not be controlled by someone else’s feelings or external circumstances

—–     Your values: your need to have your life reflect who you are and what you are about

—–     Your behaviors: your control over how you act in your relationships and distinguishing one’s emotional and personal space.

In every relationship, we have the ability to establish our own personal boundaries by stating what we want and what we need.  But, many people don’t know how to do this, so they either take advantage of someone else’s boundaries or let someone override their own.  When you don’t set boundaries, you experience a loss of freedom to be yourself, and inevitably you give up who you really are in order to please or not offend the other person, keep him or her in your life, or even have control over someone else.

In order to discover if you have solid, healthy boundaries in your friendships, ask someone  you trust who is outside the friendship to give you some objective feedback.  Someone who is wise and exhibits boundaries will be able to not only offer an objective viewpoint but also assist in way that will help you form and maintain boundaries in friendship.

Whether it is through wise counsel such as a mentor or even a counselor, it is important for you to become aware of when boundaries are not in place.  When someone lacks boundaries it might be an indicator of other areas in his or her life that lack boundaries as well, such family, romantic, work relationships or even beyond, such as little or no control in personal finances.

Listen up. If you get feedback that you might lack boundaries, then it’s time to reflect upon other areas of life.  Be honest with yourself. Read books on boundaries or meet with a counselor or therapist to discuss a way to include and enforce boundaries in your life. Many times the lack of boundaries or overuse of boundaries is rooted from past relationships or previous familial wounds. Protecting your boundaries and honoring your friend’s boundaries is the key to keeping your relationships a place of safety, protection and growth.

Written by: Emily Shupert

Shupert has an M.A. in counseling  and a B.A. in human development and family Studies. She is a  Licensed Associate Professional Counselor (GA State Licensing Board).

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