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So how do you set boundaries?  First, consider your relationships.  Can you identify symptoms of your boundaries being ignored or violated?  Have you had experiences in your relationships where you feel angry, anxious, taken advantage of, ignored, overwhelmed, or devalued?  Second, identify irrational or unhealthy thinking and beliefs, by which you allow your boundaries to be ignored or violated (livestrong.com, 2011).

Example: 

Irrational or unhealthy thinking: “It shouldn’t bother me so much that my husband shares everything about our marriage with his mother.  They’ve always been really close.”

Boundary-appropriate thought: “I have a right to privacy in my relationship with my spouse.  I have a right to build a marriage that is free from outside influences.” 

As you work to identify symptoms and irrational thinking patterns, it may also help to ask yourself, “Are there areas of my relationship where I have not said ‘No’, and I should have?”  If possible, go back and set boundaries in these areas. 

It is important to note that setting healthy boundaries is not easy.  It takes practice and consistency.  The work is primarily yours to do.  When you begin to set boundaries, your relationships will change.  In response to setting these boundaries, those you are in relationship with, may respond in the following ways:

  • They will recognize something has changed and adjust


  • They will be pleased that you are standing up for yourself 


  • ​They will challenge the new boundaries you have set, and through their behavior, encourage or insist you change back


  • They will leave


These responses are very important, so look for them.  They will provide insight into your relationships.  Remember, boundaries protect your physical and emotional property and rights.  When you set boundaries, you are asking others to respect your right to individuality and free will.  When they insist you change back (or do things their way) and if you don't, they will leave; they are communicating to you how they feel, concerning your right to be an individual.  If this occurs, it may be time to start re-evaluating the relationship.

I hope this series on boundaries has been enlightening.  It is one of my favorite topics, because of how important boundaries are to healthy relationships.  Please revisit these articles as often as you like.  As you scroll through, perform a “boundaries” checkup on yourself.  Don’t forget to ask, “Have I been a boundary builder, or a boundary violator?”




​​1.  Boundaries. (2011, August 8). Retrieved May 10, 2015, from livestrong.com 

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Boundaries Part Three
Brenda Lunnie-Jobe MA, LPC    January 23, 2017

 

This short article is Part Three of a series covering boundaries. 

In Boundaries Part One, we defined the meaning of boundaries.  

In Boundaries Part Two we discussed ignored or crossed

boundaries.  In this last section, we will address setting

boundaries, and what happens when you do. 

Setting healthy boundaries is essential to strong, enjoyable

relationships, as well as your emotional health.  When you set good boundaries in relationships, an environment for growth and safety is created—allowing each person the freedom to be themselves. 

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Brenda Lunnie-Jobe MA, LPC