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Boundaries Bring Freedom
© 2009 by M. Dezelic & G. Ghanoum
In dealing with difficult people, and confronting using "Care"-frontation, the synthesizing theme is Establishing Proper Boundaries.
What does having boundaries mean? Visualize boundaries as the fence around your house. It is your defense, what protects your safety zone. Boundaries enable us to say “no” to the things that are not beneficial or hurt us and to say "yes" to what is good and healthy for us. Boundaries define who we are and who we are not; this is what I will do, and this is what I will not do. Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Many people focus on being loving and unselfish, that they forget their own limits and limitations. Love is not just letting people use you for their own benefits. We can love unconditionally, within limits of self-care. You do not need to put up with people in your life that do not respect you and your boundaries.
One of the reasons why we find it so difficult to establish boundaries is because often times, we do not do it soon enough in the relationship. We ignore the red flags, allowing the people in our lives to get into bad habits and get away with many things that cause us discomfort and make us unhappy. This usually happens when we are fearful of confronting the person, afraid of their reaction, fearful of abandonment or don't want to hurt their feelings. We allow the bad habits to embed themselves in the relationship, making it very difficult to remove them later on. The most common type of boundary issue is difficulty to say "no" to others.
In Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, they identify four kinds of boundary-problem personalities: The Compliant, The Controller, The Non-Responsive and The Avoidant.
• The Compliant: says “yes” to the bad; feels guilty and/or controlled by others; can't set boundaries.
• The Controller: violates the boundaries of others either aggressively or by manipulation.
• The Avoidant: says “no” to the good; fails to open their gate for the love and care of others.
• The Non-Responsive: fails to give love to others by not responding; ignores the needs of others and neglect their responsibility to give care and help.
It is extremely important for your own well-being and happiness to fully understand what your needs are and what kind of boundaries you need to maintain in all of your relationships. It is your responsibility to examine yourself and have a clear understanding of what your boundaries are, otherwise, you will not be able to enforce them. Having boundaries automatically means that people will try to violate them, knowingly or unknowingly. It is up to you to teach them in a loving and assertive fashion what is, and what is not acceptable for you. If you do not follow through with the consequences, you are giving the "ok" for people to disregard your boundaries, causing you stress and resentment.
Enforcing Boundaries using ICE:
• Identify: give a clear explanation of what area has been violated or what behavior needs adjustment.
• Consequences: Explain what will happen if the behavior is not corrected.
• Execute: follow through with your plan of action to enforce the boundary.
(Using ICE is also very beneficial with children when trying to teach appropriate behavior.)
You can set limits and still be a loving person. If someone is upset or hurt by your boundaries, it is might be because they have selfish motives and want to have control over you, they do not understand from their perspective that they are somehow hurting you, or this is something new that you have introduced to the relationship. If someone always wants your time, love, energy or money, ask yourself the question: "is that person taking advantage of me?" or "do I like to feel needed by rescuing people?" Loving people doesn't mean rescuing them from everything that they have gotten themselves into, or becomeing the ultimate caregiver. There is a huge difference between helping and supporting someone, and always "rescuing." In this care, you may have to look at your own boundary-breaking for others. Having boundaries is not a selfish act and you do not need to feel guilty or afraid when you set your boundaries. Proper boundaries will help you from being invaded and controlled by others.
Boundaries bring freedom and are essential for healthy, flourishing, respectful relationships. Otherwise, you will remain being controlled by the needs and wants of others. Will you remain, or choose to set and enforce your Boundaries?!