Set Healthy Boundaries

Do you allow others to do and say things to you that do not feel good? Would you like to establish new patterns to deal with the problem?

Everyone needs to set healthy boundaries. This is a gift to others and you. By allowing people to act in ways that are not appropriate, you actually hurt them too because they are stuck in their unhealthy behavior. Therefore, it is important to learn how to establish boundaries for all involved.

Denise’s husband was very frustrated at work. Alan would come home and yell at her. At first she yelled back, and Alan got angrier and acted even meaner. Denise stuffed her anger and withdrew. That did not work either because she was miserable, and Alan did not improve. In her counseling session, I encouraged her to set her boundaries for both of their good. Otherwise, she is an enabler or a co-dependent.

The following week, Denise told me that she said to Alan in a calm, firm voice, “I am not willing to live this way.” To her surprise, Alan changed his attitude and stopped his negative behavior. In fact, he was his kind self again. I imagine that he heard her and realized that he could no longer get away with his actions without a consequence. I acknowledged Denise for setting healthy boundaries.

Can you relate to Denise’s situation? Are you being physically or verbally abused? No one deserves to be the target of other people’s pain. No matter what happened in the past, you are a good person and you deserve to be treated with love and respect.

I discovered in the process I developed, HART (Holistic And Rapid Transformation), that clients who allowed others to be abusive to them as adults experienced that behavior from their parents or guardians. Since we make decisions from our experiences, they decided that they must be bad and deserve to be abused. That is not true! The truth is that what people say or do is about them and not you. The truth is that you are okay and a good person no matter what others do or say.

If you feel you deserve to be abused because of guilt feelings, you can forgive yourself and stop punishing yourself. We all make mistakes so that we can learn from them.

Setting healthy boundaries is also a very important parenting skill. Children actually subconsciously want you to stop them from misbehaving. They need you to be a strong, consistent parent and healthy model for them. Telling the child what is acceptable and the consequences of their negative behavior is the way to go. Then if they misbehave, follow that with the logical consequence.

For example, if your son Johnny yells at you, then ask him to speak calmly and respectfully. Of course, that is the way you speak to him to model healthy communication. If he continues to misbehave, then you can set your boundary by saying, “If you yell at me, you will have to go in your room and stay there until you can calmly tell me what you want to say.” Be sure to follow through with the logical consequence any time Johnny yells at you.

It is important for parents to prepare their children for life. You may be willing to take their abuse, but it is not likely that their peers, bosses, or teachers will. Also, if you allow abusive behavior, there is a good chance the child will repeat it with their partner and children. It is very important to set healthy boundaries so that your son or daughter can learn acceptable behavior and succeed socially and in school, work, relationships, and parenting.

You may be asking yourself, what are healthy boundaries? These are decided by what feels good emotionally and physically for all involved. For example, taking illegal drugs, drinking alcohol excessively, or smoking cigarettes are not healthy for anyone. Addictions are ways to numb our pain, but we feel it again after the effects of the addiction wears off. If this is your scenario, you can say, “I love you and I am not willing to support your addiction.” Then, for example, you can make a suggestion to go for counseling to deal with the causes of the pain which are the causes of the addiction. This is a gift to them and you.

It is important to be strong, and to protect yourself if the abuser refuses to deal with the issues. People who abuse often need to feel scared to lose you if they do not deal with their problems, in order to have the courage to face their pain (the cause of their negative behavior). Tell the abuser calmly what you are willing to do and follow through.

It can be more difficult with siblings, cousins, parents, etc. However it is important to set the same boundaries. Tell them what you want in a loving way. Protect yourself from their projection of their pain. You do not deserve to be anyone’s scapegoat.

In the case of friends who you feel are abusive, have the courage to let them go. We all need friends and many people can fill that need. Set your intent to be only with people who are kind, loving, and respectful, and that is what you will attract. These are healthy boundaries. Making excuses for people does not serve anyone.

Be honest with everyone, including yourself. When other peoples’ behaviors do not feel good, take a stand. “I love you, and I am only willing to stay in this friendship (or relationship) if we can share mutual respect and kindness,” is a nice way to establish healthy boundaries.