Putting It Together
The Importance of Boundaries
I received this e-mail and with the author’s permission, I’m sharing it. The topic? Building Healthy Boundaries - not the easiest thing to do.
Have you been told that you’re ‘too sensitive’? Are you frequently hurt by what others say or do to you? This is a boundary problem. Consciously or unconsciously, you've given them permission that you're OK with it. Well if it’s not OK, you’re the one who has to say so. That's setting a healthy boundary - with this in mind, here’s the letter:
“I have a very close friend, who I can truly trust, let down my defenses and become vulnerable. We talk about sensitive issues and I need a lot of support and validation (which he gives) but then he becomes moralistic, judgmental and challenges me with comments and advice.
I get very upset and hurt, but when I tell him, he denies it and says that I’m accusing him of being judgmental.
Am already really being judged or am I getting so deep into raw emotions that I’m projecting some sort of pattern from the past?”
‘Raw & Confused’
To the author of this letter: Thank you. I'm sure many can relate. I hope this is helpful.
Every boundary can be broken down into three parts.
A) The behavior – How the other person reacted.
B) The description – What happened
C) Your commitment – What you’ll do.
Putting it Together
Let’s use the example of feeling judged in the letter above.
A) Behavior - Ask yourself if your friend’s behavior was unacceptable. In the letter, there were mixed messages.
B) Description - The friend was consoling but then came the feeling of being judged. He may not have meant to be judgmental, however, if you’ve given mixed messages he can overstep your boundaries.
C) Your commitment – This is what you say to yourself to protect yourself from being hurt. ex. “ I will not disclose myself entirely to this person, because although he understands and is supportive, I feel upset and angry. I mustn’t allow myself to be hurt.
This part of the boundary is your commitment to yourself. You don’t have to share it with anyone.
Setting a boundary means that you’re simply taking a stand for yourself. But, you must not back down. If you do, you’re giving the other person permission to continue overstepping your boundaries.
You may hope the other person changes, but you have no control over that. The only person you can change is yourself. You can choose what you do and what you say. It’s important to be honest with your feelings and to say how you feel.
Why Boundaries are Important
- You’re taking responsibility for what you need
- You’re demanding equality and respect.
- You learn to listen to yourself, and be heard by others
- You emerge with the feeling that you’re as important as anyone else.
- You feel self-empowered and deserving
- You become a friend to yourself.
Tips for setting boundaries
1) Boundaries need to be set when you feel: suffocated, judged, enraged, victimized etc.
2) Don’t set boundaries when you’re angry
3) Don’t be afraid or ashamed to stand up for yourself
4) Follow through on consequences
5) Don’t give in to pressure
6) Get a support system if necessary
7) Tell yourself that you have a right to think the way you think, say what you say etc. You’re entitled.
8) Don’t accept belittling jokes, sarcastic criticism, or condescending attitude
9) Don’t accept disrespect
10) Be direct. Ask for what you want. This shows who you are.
When you set healthy boundaries, others will respect them - and won't cross then.
No one can hurt you unless you allow it. So always say as you feel - then make the commitment, to prevent how to be hurt the next time.
Q & A
I am involved with a man who I love very much and tells me I am his life, but he has gone from accepting and admitting he is an alcoholic to denying it. He has tried to convince himself that changing from spirits such as Vodka or Gin to Beer is OK. I’ve threatened to leave, but he begs me not to go. He has promised he will stop, but he lies, especially when under the influence. I feel so insecure. I’m battling to come to terms with the lying and the alcohol. Should I stay? What can I do, please help me.
Answer: Hi Merri,
No one can tell you to stay or go, but one thing for certain, this is not
a healthy relationship
You're right! Your boyfriend is in denial.
There is a perception that changing from spirits to beer is a good alternative to alcoholism. Not so, alcohol is alcohol. To help break his denial there is a
self test for alcohol on the site.
I'm quite certain that he won't do well on this test. He’ll probably still be in denial, but at least it can give him second thoughts about getting help. And it can also help you to see the depth of the problem.
One of the traits of an alcoholic, is that they lie and manipulate to get what they want. You have to stand firm in your demands.
Tell him that you can't go on in this relationship and that it's destroying you. Find out where the AA meetings are in your area, and demand that he goes. He should go a minimum of 3 times a week, until he gets used to it. Then he must get a sponsor and
follow the 12 step program
If this is not for him, he can get private addiction counseling. But whatever he does, he has to do something.
This is not an easy thing to do, because he'll fight it.
It would also be helpful for you to go to AlAnon meetings. These are for family members of alcohol/drug addicts, and they’ll provide support if you choose to move on.
Not easy, I know, but there's no alternative
Best of luck!
Have a problem with a compulsive behavior?
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You can reach me by phone or on the internet.
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Got a question or suggestion?
Let me know. And if you want, you can share it with others.
Summer at last! The office will be closed in the middle of July, but I will get e-mails as well as voice mail, so simply leave a message and I'll get back to you when I return.
There will be no e-zine in the Month of August, but come September, the topic is Breaking Bad Habits. All of us have them, but we don't have to keep them for life :)
Thank you for your comments, questions, and suggestions and I wish you all a safe and relaxing summer holiday. See you in September!
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