How to Set Good Boundaries
Good boundaries protect us from behaviour we would prefer not to have in our lives and they ensure our emotional and personal safety. They form a psychological framework in which we can relate to each other with confidence, respect, clarity, peace and trust. Boundary setting is a self assertive behaviour, a wise measure, and simply brings into conscious awareness expectations we have for how others will treat us.
- I need to know the boundary
- I need to have the courage to tell you kindly and directly what the boundary is
- I need to know how I'll follow through if you step on the boundary
- I need to be willing if necessary to renegotiate ideally at a different time and in a different space
- I need to take care of my feelings and respect you that you will take care of your own.
- I know this and that the boundary is firm and will not alter unless I want it to – it doesn't change because you're my friend, because you want it to, because you're anxious or are going through a divorce, etc.
- If you should attempt to light a cigarette I will tell you clearly, directly but lightly that there is no smoking in my room
- Should you continue to light a cigarette, I will ask you politely to leave my room, though you may of course smoke outside
- Before I invite you into my room again I will meet you in the waiting room and say lightly, 'Do we both remember that there's no smoking in my room?'
- I feel Ok about protecting my boundary, knowing that if I don't, I'll start to resent you and your behaviour and our relationship will be doomed. That would be my fault, not yours, since I didn't have the courage to stand up for my right. Since our relationship is important to me, it's my responsibility to make, defend and uphold my boundaries.
- What leaves you feeling irritated or angry?
- Is there a boundary there that you're not fully aware of?
- What is it?
- Now, decide upon what you would like to do about that and using the steps above, write down your proposal for how you're going to deal with it.
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