You’ve decided to make 2022 the year of healthy boundaries. Now what?

 Just like tomato is the key ingredient in ketchup so are healthy boundaries the key ingredients in healthy relationships.

We’ve all encountered difficult conversations or situations where we felt someone has crossed the line. We are left frustrated, angry, and upset. Why? Often it’s because someone has crossed our boundaries. 

Lana Bentley, MSW. Mindfulicity’s Program Strategist, says:

“The toughest part about boundaries is that quite often we don’t necessarily know what our boundaries are until they are crossed.” 

So you’ve decided that 2022 is going to be the year where you improve your relationships by not only making but communicating and keeping healthy boundaries.

Where to start?

First, let’s get clear on healthy boundaries and what they look like.

Healthy Boundaries:

Boundaries are limits or sets of rules we set for ourselves in our relationships; only you know what’s acceptable for you; therefore, only you can set these for yourself.

A healthy boundary is like the fence around your house – it keeps the unwanted things out (neighborhood dogs) while letting useful things in (your visitors).

Lana Bentley.

“We know a boundary is effective when it helps provide space and opportunities for the things that aren’t super helpful for us to exit, but it also allows new information, new ideas, new opportunities to come into our vicinity.

What do healthy boundaries look like?!

“Boundaries can sway, they can grow and change within the context of new situations.” Bentley explains.

When you have healthy boundaries you will benefit by:

●     Feeling heard and understood.

●     Reducing conflict in your relationships.

●     Decrease guilt and resentment in your relationships.

2 things to keep in mind when negotiating boundaries:

👉🏽 Our boundaries are not self-evident.

👉🏽 You have the right to get your way some of the time.

When boundaries are crossed, it leads to frustration, stress, and loss of respect in the other person.

These reactions might come because boundaries have not been clear and another conversation around those is due.

You might need to set new boundaries or reestablish the ones you already have.

As you clearly define your limits having these tricky conversations will become easier and you will become more confident in your ability to negotiate and maintain your boundaries.

“If you are afraid that the other person can’t handle your boundaries, or that you can’t handle negotiating yours, over time you actually train your brain to believe that you are less capable.” Lana Bentley

 It’s important to understand that negotiating boundaries takes practice.

Negotiating Healthy Boundaries:

You can start negotiating boundaries today by:

Learning to say NO.

Although it may sound easy for some,  for others, it can be a challenge to use that little two-letter word.

Perhaps you are new on the job and you are trying to impress your boss. In this case, it can especially difficult to say NO.  But it’s important to maintain your boundaries and speak up in a respectful way when you’re asked to do something that violates your boundaries.

Some examples where you may respectfully say NO at work are being invited to too many meetings, or working outside of your regular hours, or being asked to take on additional work that has little to do with your role/function.

Be mindful when negotiating boundaries:

Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose – whatever it is that you are doing, doing that fully. This mindset is especially important when negotiating boundaries.

Pick a time and a place, and a space where you can give important conversations about boundaries your undivided attention. Ultimately you want the other person to really hear you as well.

The second aspect of mindfully negotiating your boundaries is to do your homework before you negotiate. Ask yourself whether there is anything helpful for you to know so you can communicate your boundary in an effective manner.

Be present in the moment:

When we are fully present in the current moment, it helps us avoid crossing boundaries (because we are really paying attention).  It may not help us avoid conflict entirely, but it can help us reduce the likelihood of crossing the line with others.

Tune in to your situation when negotiating boundaries:

When you are negotiating your boundaries, think about the intensity of the ask and think about the intensity of the delivery. 

If negotiating boundaries came with a radio dial, with an intensity scale between 0-10, in most situations we don’t need to turn the dial past a 3 or a 4 when we’re communicating them.

Now What?! How do we stay motivated?!

Don’t let your boundaries slide. Negotiating boundaries is a practice that takes time and effort.

As you do, you will become more confident in making and maintaining them and, as a result, you will experience less stress in your relationships.

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