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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Setting healthy boundaries


As William Shakespeare put it, “Give a man health and a course to steer, and he’ll never stop to trouble about whether he’s happy or not”. I think the “course” that Shakespeare is referring to is the establishment of healthy boundaries. For our own emotional and physical well being, establishing clear boundaries can give us a “course” that we are now in control of and can “steer”. While it is easier to identify our physical boundaries, by posting “No trespassing” signs, it can be more difficult to establish emotional and intellectual boundaries.
Ever had a boss walk into your office without knocking? Ever been afraid to tell a friend that you do not want to take care of their dog while they are out of town for fear they will not like you anymore? Ever feel like you are powerless in the decisions that are made in which you silently suffer the consequences someone else made for you? Ever had your own happiness dependent on someone else’s happiness? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have unhealthy boundaries.
The solution to unhealthy boundaries is not establishing rigid boundaries in which you always say no or completely shut others out emotionally. This could result in loneliness, anxiety and dependency. The key to establishing healthy boundaries is to identify your current level of self esteem and assertiveness. After identifying your (key word here Your) beliefs, morals, and values you can begin assertiveness training and self esteem building. Establishing healthy boundaries can be an empowering experience that allows you to create mutually beneficial relationships with others.
There are countless self help books on assertiveness training and self esteem building. If you have a loved one that has ever struggled with alcohol or substance abuse, you most likely have been faced with how to establish healthy boundaries. If you have a long history of poor boundary setting or believe that you are in a co-dependent relationship, be assured there is help out there. Our office is happy to answer any questions you have regarding boundary setting through a free 15 minute phone consultation at 386-736-9165.

Jennifer Nadelkov, MA, LMFT

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