by Jennifer Hama, LPC, CPCS
Lots of people struggle with boundaries, you’re not alone, and most struggle for the very same reason.
You’re going about it backwards
Often, we start by drawing boundaries around the behaviors that we don’t want to see or behaviors we want to see (ie “Don’t talk to me like that again”). Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad way to start. But, most people don’t have a problem saying that, most people have a problem with what to do when it happens again.
Start with how you plan to enforce the boundary if it happens again.
Will you end the phone call?
Will you leave the location?
Will you end the relationship?
All of these are okay options, if you will actually follow through. If you set a boundary and a consequence you don’t plan on enforcing, you end up damaging the relationship.
Yep, that’s hard to hear because they are the ones not following the boundary…but then again…neither are you. And you are responsible for your behavior, not theirs.
Next, decide with if you will communicate this boundary and consequence ahead of time.
You don’t have to. You can choose to wait until the next time it happens or you can choose to have a conversation prior. This can depend on a variety of factors. Think about the follow questions. How might the other person will respond? Is this a pattern of behavior or is this a one time thing? Is it likely you will see this person again? Use the answers to these questions to help guide you.
Then, develop a list of specific behaviors that cross the boundary
Instead of saying “Don’t talk to me like that again.” What was it specifically? Was it tone? Was it volume? Was it certain words?
Be specific. Disrespect can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, be specific in what you identify as disrespectful.
Last, move forward with your plan.
You’ve got all the missing pieces now. Move forward with your plan and practice to make your boundaries more effective.
You won’t get it right the first time and that’s ok. Think of it like an experiment: what worked, what didn’t. Learn what works best for you and change accordingly.
Learn more about Jennifer and CBT, Here
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Photo Credit found on Pixels.com: Featured Image @christianduong First Photo @AlexGreen Third Photo @monstera_production