Sunday, 21 November 2010

Setting Boundaries

Boundaries within family, work and relationships is an issue that comes up so frequently for people.  There is a fine line between keeping and breaking a boundary and yet we do it all the time; from saying ‘yes’ too often to not expressing how we feel when someone lets us down- these are all patterns that keep us stuck and compromise our boundaries.  Creating a line between what you will and won’t accept into your life saves you from miscommunication, anger and overwhelm from saying yes too often to others and not enough to yourself. 
If we don’t have clear, healthy boundaries, we end up with draining, toxic relationships, unrealistic workloads, and unhealthy bodies and minds. First we need to decide what is healthy for us and what is not. From what foods you want to ingest into your body, to what you want to spend your time and energy on, to what quality of relationships you want in your life. For example, what do you feel happy to give and receive from a relationship? What are you prepared to set as your boundaries? If you define the boundaries then you have the choice whether or not someone crosses them and if they do what the consequences are. 

One female client I saw who came to me with having had a string of unhappy relationships, was suffering from depression as a result. Enabling her to stand back and look at these patterns objectively helped her to see a lot of it was around boundaries, or rather the lack of them! With each man she had met, she had been a total walk over and a pleaser, and although they might have been nice to start with, they started taking her for granted. This made her try even harder to please them and compromise her boundaries and self esteem in the process.  We worked on strengthening her boundaries and sense of self in the sessions to the point where she realised it was within her power to create her own boundaries. A couple of months later she met a lovely man who respected and loved her and with whom she could have a healthy, equal relationship with.

Sometimes, we’re not aware of where the boundaries lie or find it difficult to change the dynamics of a situation or disturb the ‘status quo’. Examining the pros and cons of changing a situation may be useful to get clearer on what the costs are to both us and the other person or persons involved.  We need to look at what we are prepared to put up with and for how long.  Asking myself for example, ‘can I stand working with that person for another 3 months or do I either need to change the situation or get out of it?’ can be useful to see where our limitations lie and also enable us to move onto more rewarding situations- rather than getting caught up in anger, resentment and fear.

Heres some tips for beginning to examine your boundaries and begin changing them for the better:

♦ Review the key areas of your life such as relationships, finances, work, physical and emotional health, and so on using a pie chart and note for each area out of 10 (10 being really satisfied) how satisifed feel right now.

♦ With the areas you feel satisfied, be aware of where you’re boundaries are being respected. These may be boundaries you were not aware of, but are core to your values, such as having loyalty in a relationship, fulfilling work, or eating healthy foods. Praise yourself for those positives!

♦ In the areas where you feel unsatisfied, notice where you either have unclear boundaries or you have allowed a situation or person to cross your boundaries. What are you saying yes to and what are you saying no to (like saying yes to someone or something else and no to yourself)? What’s at stake for you to set and honour your boundaries? What will it take to set clear boundaries?

Creating Healthy Boundaries

♦ With the important areas of your life where you are satisfied, identify the boundaries you’ve created within those. This will help you to make choices in the future. As you set your intention to attract new people and experiences into your life (i.e. a new job, friendship, goal etc.) use your boundaries list as a way to define what you want in your life. Whenever you have a decision to make, ask yourself whether it honours your boundaries or not.

♦ With the important areas of your life where you are not satisfied, make a list of what boundaries you haven’t set and/or which ones have been crossed. Determine what boundaries you need to set and how you will do that. Instead of getting caught in blame or victimhood, simply redefine your boundaries and move forward.

Alexandra Bacon is a certified Advanced EFT Practitioner, Counsellor, Bach Flower Remedy Practitioner, Wellbeing consultant and Trainer. To book your personalised treatment session please call Alexandra on 01629 825968/ 07950 568635.

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