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What does setting boundaries mean and how do you know when it’s time to set them?

Many people have been living with toxic relationships for many years and wonder why they continue to have negative self talk and energy depletion after being in the company of certain people.

For example, recently, when I asked a client to describe her mother she said, “She is very committed to what she wants for others, strong, opinionated and blames others when they fail to take her advice.” She ended with a sigh and explained that she and the other members of her family just “give in” to her to avoid conflict. I asked her how she felt when around her mother and she said, “I feel  emotionally drained and usually hurt and angry but we go along with her suggestions and demands to avoid conflict. She mentioned that her father has learned too and has role-modeled the same behaviors toward her mother.” I asked her if she would describe her mother as controlling and she agreed wholeheartedly.

Avoidance and enabling in a relationship usually breeds hurt, contempt, resentment, and/or emotional avoidance or detachment. Conflicts that are not addressed are conflicts that remain unresolved and seem to fester and result in slow destruction of healthy bonds. Setting healthy boundaries and then discussing them with a toxic person is the first step.

What are some signs that you may be in a toxic relationship and how do you set boundaries?

We can’t choose our family members but we can decide what we expect from them and make an attempt to improve them. “Many grown adults let their parents or their siblings treat them or talk to them in ways they wouldn’t tolerate from anyone else. But if their behavior makes you feel belittled or guilty, that’s not okay. Just because she’s your mom or your sister, she does not get a free pass.

Decide which relationships make you feel less than, guilty, angry, or blamed. This is not a healthy relationship so imagine you would like the relationship to be, such as how often would I see this person and what topics would we not approach? How you want to be treated and/or what the consequences will be.

Setting Boundaries

  1. Identify your boundaries. Be clear about what you need before trying to communicate or enforce the boundary.
  2. Communicate your boundaries or expectations clearly, calmly, and consistently. Stick to the facts without over explaining, blaming, or becoming defensive. Be specific with the consequences and make sure you both know what you’re agreeing to.
  3. If your boundaries aren’t respected, evaluate your options and take further action.

One thing to remember is that you are not hurting another by doing this, you are actually helping yourself and the other by not enabling their negative behaviors and yourself by not accepting negative behaviors from others. This may help you to have more energy and feel better about yourself.

If you need counseling or coaching to help you set boundaries go to my website and make an appointment at www.drjeanpollack.com