Couple without Healthy Boundaries
  1. Setting healthy boundaries is always worthwhile, but as quarantine set in, this may have begun to feel like an impossible goal.
  2. You are not alone.

    1. As many of us find ourselves spending all our time in confined spaces with loved ones, recognizing and respecting one’s physical and emotional limitations is a challenge. Lots of people are finding themselves needing to adjust their boundaries, or struggling to maintain any boundaries at all.
  3. What people tend to get wrong:

    1. When people attempt to set new boundaries, there are some pitfalls they frequently find themselves falling into. Sometimes, people can feel that the very concept of boundary-setting is so nebulous. It can be confusing to discern where to start. This frustration can cause them to procrastinate, or decide to avoid the process altogether. 
    1. Other times, people can rush into the process, trying to figure out exactly what they are hoping to gain from setting boundaries while discussing their desire to set boundaries with their loved one. This can cause them to become verbose, defensive, or even apologetic as they attempt to establish healthy boundaries, thereby potentially sabotaging the message they are trying to convey.
  1. Here’s how to get it right:

    1. Instead of feeling that this is an ambiguous, confusing process, the key to successfully setting healthy boundaries is clarity. Here, I will lay out five clear steps to help you achieve your boundary goals as seamlessly as possible. 
      1. 1. Clearly identify your boundaries
        1. This includes understanding why you need those boundaries and why you are putting them in place now.
      1. 2. Be straight forward in your communication of these boundaries
        1. This means resisting the temptation to apologize or to ramble with numerous explanations about why you need to set a certain boundary. 
        1. Try to also attend to your tone: try to maintain a calm tone, rather than sounding antagonistic or defensive.
        1. Remember to make this about you, rather than making it personal towards the person with whom you’re setting boundaries.
      1. 3. Begin by establishing not only clear, but tight boundaries
        1. As time goes on, you can always loosen them if you feel comfortable doing so.
      1. 4. Check in with yourself regularly
        1. Place trust in your own intuition, and if you feel like you’re experiencing a boundary violation, address it as soon as possible rather than waiting until it becomes a pattern.
      1. 5. Finally, establish and regularly utilize a support system
        1. Talking to people you trust, whether this includes your therapist, friends, or close family members, is a great way to stay strong in maintaining your boundaries.
  2. Why do boundaries matter?

    • It might sound like a lot to take those five steps. However, following them can vastly change your life for the better. Here are a few ways you may notice your life improve after you implement boundaries with your loved ones:
      • 1. Healthy boundary setting can help you feel respected, by both yourself and others. 
      • 2. This can help decrease the amount of conflict you experience in relationship with others – something particularly important as conflict levels rise during the ongoing stress of a pandemic.
      • 3. Finally, this can also help you enhance your assertiveness to ensure your needs are met, while improving your self-esteem, productive communication, and sense of feeling respected by others.

In summary, remember to be clear and straight forward as you establish tight boundaries, check in with yourself regularly, and utilize your support system. Even so, creating boundaries can be a difficult and painful task. I help people work through boundary issues, and I’d be happy to talk with you. Click below for more information.

Shannon Thomas, M.A.
Shannon Thomas, M.A.

I help young adults, adults, and couples to develop hope, resiliency, and confidence in their identity.