Today I'm going to be talking about something that it took me a very long time to be even slightly proficient in, but something that is essential for our well-being - setting healthy boundaries in relationships.
The Struggle is Real
Many of us (especially women) have a hard time with this in one way or another. We're raised to be considerate, kind, thoughtful...which are wonderful things. But they're also things that ask us to temporarily ignore our own wants and needs while we consider the other person's. For some people this is an easy to and fro movement, but for others it can result in a chronic inability to actually even KNOW what you want and need in any given moment. And an even harder ability to advocate for ourselves when someone else is demanding something from us, or we're worried we will cause them to feel something negative.
We end up saying 'yes' when we want to say 'no'. We find ourselves over committed, overwhelmed, and underappreciated. We're afraid to speak truthfully because we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, make them angry, or risk losing a relationship. Sound familiar?
What Unhealthy Boundaries Look Like
- People-Pleasing: You agree to do things that you don't want to do, just to make someone else happy.
- Over-committing: You say yes to every invitation, request, or project, leaving no time for yourself.
- Ignoring Red Flags: You overlook or make excuses for someone's toxic behaviour.
Lack of Personal Space: You feel suffocated because you can't say no to someone who constantly invades your personal space.
The Importance of Boundaries
Setting boundaries is not about building walls; it's about defining your limits. It's about saying, "This is who I am, this is what I need, and this is what I won't tolerate." It's a form of self-respect and self-love. Interestingly, in my own very non-scientific research I have noticed that people with poor boundaries are often also very empathic...they are acutely sensitive to the unspoken words and the energy in the room. They were often raised by at least one parent who was very strict, harsh or unpredictable and they developed a greater sensitivity to other people's moods as a way of being able to anticipate trouble and stay safe. They grow up to be wonderful friends...they will be able to empathise with anyone and put themselves in their shoes very easily. They will be sensitive to another's moods, careful about not hurting them, and thoughtful in all interactions.
But this comes at a cost. In order to be that attuned to other's needs, they often suppress their own. This, as you can imagine, is not healthy in the long run. They often attract partners who have very strong boundaries and a healthy sense of their own needs, and an imbalance can easily occur because of that. One person has clear demands and needs, and the other is likely to be catering to them on an ongoing basis. If you recognise yourself in either of these sides of the equation, it would be worth evaluating your own boundaries to see where you might need a little work with either strengthening them, or being more considerate of your partner's less robust ones.
What Healthy Boundaries Look Like
- Clear Communication: You express your needs and feelings openly.
- Self-Care: You take time for yourself without feeling guilty.
- Assertiveness: You stand up for yourself without being aggressive.
- Emotional Independence: You don't rely on someone else for your happiness or self-worth.
What Helps and What Doesn't
- Self-Awareness: Knowing your limits, knowing clearly what makes you feel good or leaves you feeling uncomfortable, resentful or angry.
- Clear Communication: Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes. You will get better at it the more you practice it.
Consistency: Boundaries need to be consistent to be effective. Watch yourself making excuses for the other person if they step over them...watch yourself being willing to let them slip here and there. Once you SEE yourself in the moment, you can make the decision to do it differently.
What Doesn't Help
- Avoidance: Ignoring the issue won't make it go away.
- Aggression: Being overly confrontational can backfire.
Guilt: Feeling guilty for setting boundaries is counterproductive. It's simply a way of making yourself feel like you're still a good person for getting what you want. You always were a good person and you SHOULD get what you want. Why would that be such a bad thing?
The Role of Hypnotherapy
You might be wondering, "How do I actually start setting these boundaries?" This is where hypnotherapy comes into play, specifically the sessions offered by Clear Minds.
Depending on what you feel your problems with boundaries stems from, whether it's lack of self-worth, anxiety, or simply long ingrained habit that you're ready to shift, here are some sessions that might help you move towards a stronger sense of self and an ability to hold your boundaries clearly when faced with a trying situation: