Sunday, March 13, 2011

Personal Boundaries Part II

Last time I explained the importance of interpersonal boundaries – that everything from towns, states, countries and people need boundaries. I also gave an example of an interpersonal boundary violation. So, how do we go about setting these things called boundaries? I believe that many of us were raised in families where our boundaries were not respected. Maybe you lived in a home where a locked door could be easily picked by a bobby pin – and where this was done while you were bathing and a sister wanted a hairbrush on the shelf in the bathroom (No….of course that never happened to me!). This would be a home where children did not learn about the importance of interpersonal boundaries. Probably all family members disrespected individual boundaries. If you were raised in such a home, no one ever told you that you have a right to set and maintain such boundaries. If that is the case, please “listen” very closely, because I am giving you permission to set and maintain appropriate boundaries. Begin slowly – learn the wonder of the word “No.” Not, “No...I can’t watch your kid because……” Just “No,” with a smile, and without any explanation.
I think that sometimes when someone imposes on us (and do not kid yourself here – this person absolutely knows that they are imposing on you!), we are so busy not being impolite that we sacrifice our own boundaries on the altar of good manners. Not necessary. If you say, “No,” and someone asks “Why?” – your answer should be something along the lines of “Because I do not want to.” -- with the smile. If the requester continues pestering, smile and say nothing. You have already answered. You do not have to engage in answering any further. This is NOT being selfish – it is engaging in self-care. Try it – it is absolutely liberating.

Sandy Fournier, M.A., LMFT

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