Boundaries are all the buzzword, but sometimes perhaps setting a boundary is prematures. In this episode Dr. John and I discuss some of the nuance around boundary setting. There are times boundaries are necessary and there are times when boundaries may actually lead to more miscommunication.
Here are some of the takeaways from this episode on boundaries:
1. Boundaries are not meant to shut people out
Boundaries are often misconstrued as a way of shutting people out or getting rid of them, like a brick wall to shut people out of your life. However boundaries are meant to be a way of showing up more authentically in your relationship SO that the relationship can become closer and function healthier. For example, if you can’t stand it when your parents lecture you on how to parent your child BUT you never say anything, it’s likely the resentment and frustration will start to build. Setting a boundary and expressing what you need (assuming it’s handled well) will help to mitigate the development of these feelings.
2. Consider your relationship and level of trust when setting a boundary
The way we express a boundary can have an impact on how the message of our boundary is received. Let me give an example:
Boundary expressed to my parents, “You can watch the kids under these conditions: do not feed them sugar, please mind their bedtime of 7:30, and don’t let them watch any tv.”
Unintentional message: I don’t trust you and your judgment with our kids. I have made spending time with them conditional based on my requests.
In this example, if my relationship with my parents was close and they are generally responsible grandparents, then I’ve conveyed some potentially hurtful messages with this boundary.
What can happen when a boundary is conveyed in this way without factoring in the level of trust and closeness of the relationship, it can lead to defensiveness or a poor reaction from the receiver.
If this happens, the boundary setter may feel further justified in setting the boundary. I.e. “they don’t respect my boundaries.” When the actual reaction may be to the way the boundary was expressed and the lack of consideration for the relationship and level of trust that’s shared.
3. Expand your options beyond boundaries
Again, boundaries are necessary. There will be people who are in your life that will require you to set boundaries. They are important!
But since this episode is about boundary setting around minor issues, take into consideration that there are other options besides setting a boundary right away.
- Instead of a boundary you may just need to make a simple request
- Instead of a boundary you may need to just vocalize your need
- Instead of asserting a firm boundary, you may need to just soften your delivery by owning your part. I.e. “I feel worried about leaving Finn, can I just go over a few things I’m wanting to make sure you know about?”
What else is there?
In this episode, we also defined boundaries and discussed the power dynamic that they often trigger.
To learn more, listen to the full episode.
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