This week, I decided to delve a little deeper into the importance of communication within relationships. Specifically, in regards to the importance of creating boundaries. Creating necessary boundaries, whether personal or professional, is a great way to enhance your relationships and improve your communication skills. It is a way to develop healthy self esteem - setting personal boundaries in your life communicates to yourself and others that your needs, wants, and feelings are important.
Depending on your upbringing or the relationships you've had growing up, the idea of setting boundaries can be very simple or quite challenging for you. Start by examining the boundaries set in your family. How do people in your family set limits with each other? Is there an open dialogue about personal space, privacy, individual needs, and wants? Does your family respect others decisions or become overly involved in each others lives? We learn how to interact in relationships based on what our family modeled in childhood. While people often branch out or outgrow their family's relationship model as they mature, it's still a good starting place when thinking about how you perceive personal boundaries. What did your family teach you about boundaries?
In order to set healthy boundaries, you first must know the limits of what you want and need in relationships. Start becoming more attentive to the feelings you have with the people around you and how you react to these emotions. Are you feeling uncomfortable, irritated, or overpowered in any of your interactions? Do you feel that your wants, needs, and feelings are being disrespected? Do you ever sense that other people are taking advantage of your kindness? These are signs that personal boundary lines are being crossed.
In order to set healthy boundaries with others, we must be direct when communicating our needs, wants, and feelings. If you feel overwhelmed with endless tasks given to you at work, setting a boundary could involve scheduling a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your concerns. If you feel that a friend is taking advantage of your friendship by calling every time she gets in a fight with her boyfriend then disappearing for weeks after they make up, be open with her about how this makes you feel and consider limiting the time spent on this relationship. Give yourself permission to say "no" when people ask for favors - it is okay to choose your own self happiness over others. While we want to be generous in our relationships, its important to make sure we are taking care of ourselves first.
By learning to express your needs in a healthy way and having an open dialogue with others, you will find that the quality of your relationships will be greatly enhanced. By respecting your needs, you will find that others will do the same.
Do you need help setting healthy boundaries in your relationships? Give me call today at (813) 340-6955 to see how our mental health services can help.