No one is born knowing how to have healthy relationships yet most of us were never taught this as children. However, we all want and should have healthy relationships.
The question is HOW?
Multiple factors make a relationship healthy and every relationship is unique. But one thing that is common in all happy relationships is – “Healthy boundaries”.
What are Boundaries?
In general, boundaries are property lines that define who owns the property, who controls it and who is responsible for the property. In relationships, boundaries can be defined as the limits we set with other people, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behaviour towards us (Mariana Bockarova, 2016). It means not being pressurized into doing things you don’t want to do. Learning how to set and establish healthy boundaries with others improves your relationship with others as well as your sense of self-worth.
The problem is that most of the times when people do something that you don’t like or it is not acceptable to you, it’s likely for you to get angry or upset. You fail to understand what to do beyond that to bring constructive change without compromising. So, every time you find yourself in a position where your opinion or needs are overlooked, you tend to either shout or suppress your needs.
The fact is that without any action or consequences shouting is hardly ever helpful. In fact, by doing so you are giving power to the other person by falsely assuming there’s nothing else you can do. This negatively impacts your self-esteem. Having said that, if you just suppress your emotions; you will end up hurting yourself more as Sigmund Freud rightly said, “Unexpressed emotions never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways”.
If so is the case, the following steps will help you to set, enforce, and establish boundaries along with giving you an insight into assertive ways to protect your boundaries when they’re violated:
- To understand what you like, dislike and what is acceptable or unacceptable for you; you will have to know yourself first. And to know yourself better you will have to spend time with yourself where you are not disturbed or interrupted by other people, mobile phones or social media. You need to feel your feelings, acknowledge them, and use them as a guide towards the establishment of the boundaries.
Strengthening, observing and acknowledging mind and body connection will support you in feeling your feelings, trusting them, and using them to guide you (Cantor, 2020).
For example, anger is indicative of the fact that your boundary has been crossed. Anxiety signifies that you are not comfortable. Whereas, happiness or joy indicates that your boundaries are being respected. Our emotions and feelings can be best understood when we learn to observe the physical changes that take place in our body during a particular feeling. What changes do you notice in your body when you are angry?
- Keep in mind that when you set boundaries it should be clear to the other person which calls for assertively communicating your needs in the relationship. Talk to the other person (make sure that you don’t hold this conversation when you or the other person is in anger or rage) and gently let them know that when the boundary is crossed you no longer feel loved, respected and safe. If even after this communication your partner crosses your boundaries, you then need to make them realise the consequences by taking appropriate action as self-care, self –respect and self-love have to be your priority.
For example, your partner has a habit of yelling at you in anger but while he is angry you get overwhelmed and lose sight of what to do. In this situation, what you can do is take few deep breaths and then say, “You may not continue to yell at me. If you do, I will have to leave the room and end this conversation here for now. We will talk once you calm down.”
- You need to take ownership of your happiness, respect and care for yourself. This signifies that happiness, respect, care and joy are the needs of every human being and your boundaries should be established to fulfil them. We usually don’t create boundaries because we think that if we do so, we might end up losing the other person and so we keep carrying the burden of an unhealthy relationship. On the contrary, not tolerating disrespect is a sign of self-love and till the time you don’t love yourself, no relationship will be able to make you happy and content.
In conclusion, to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship you need to feel your feelings, acknowledge them without suppressing your emotions, communicate about your needs, and take action to take good care of yourself.
Establishing boundaries is a skill worth learning and it opens up the path to self-discovery and self – growth! Also, if you look at it closely, having healthy boundaries in your relationships will either make your relationship stronger or will remove someone from your life who doesn’t respect your needs enough.
The choice is yours to make!
Very well written!!
Very relatable and i feel the points mentioned actually make sense. Thanks for the deep insights was an eye opener