An Effective Process for Setting Healthy Boundaries

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An Effective Process for Setting Healthy Boundaries

A guide to setting boundaries with others.

By Vic LeBouthillier

“You deserve to have reasonable things that are important to you.”

With a small amount of support, almost anyone can learn the skills needed to succeed in establishing healthy boundaries. First, you must understand these four important things:

1.  You deserve to have reasonable things that are important to you.

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Realizing this can build-up your self-worth. This process may require support from a professional or a wise friend. Be courageous in creating a desire to learn more about building your self-worth. This is one of the greatest self-discoveries you could ever make.

2.  Boundaries for most people require support.

We depend on physicians and other professionals to help us in all sorts of areas of our lives. In a similar manner, it’s normal and healthy for people to require support when learning how to establish healthy boundaries. Consider reaching out to your EAP provider. This may be the key to you increasing your chances for success.

3.  The process of setting boundaries begins by selecting a small boundary with which to build your confidence.

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Small boundaries:
  • Asking someone at work to clean up after themselves.
  • Asking permission before borrowing a personal belonging.
  • Asking a friend to be on time.
  • Asking a friend to not interrupt you.
Larger boundaries:
  • Asking your partner to change a behavior that hurts you.
  • Asking a coworker to stop saying hurtful things to you.
  • Notifying your children that they are required to follow a curfew.
  • Approaching your boss for a change in position.

4.  There are four main steps to setting boundaries:

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A. SET A GOOD TIME. Ask to meet to discuss an issue in advance. Ensure that this is a good time for both of you to talk. A stressful time or busy day is not a good time to set a boundary.

B. REQUEST TO SPEAK UNINTERRUPTED. Ask if you could have no more than two minutes to speak uninterrupted. When sharing deep emotional needs, it is important that you are not interrupted. If you are interrupted, stop talking, gently ask to not be interrupted,  and then start again.

C. SET THE BOUNDARY BY STATING THE OFFENSE AND THEN ASKING FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Gently, and in a calm voice, identify the other person’s behavior without berating them. State how it makes you feel and ask them for what you want.

D. END BY THANKING THEM FOR LISTENING. “I just want to thank you for hearing me out. The purpose for me coming to you is because I care and value our relationship and don’t want anything to get between us.”

Remember, anybody can learn how to set and maintain healthy boundaries with the right tools and a little bit of support. It’s also important to recognize that it is not uncommon to experience setbacks when trying to set and maintain boundaries. This simply gives us an opportunity to change how we perceive a situation, and to be open to learning healthier ways to deal with things.

Meet Jim and Judy in our next blog, and read about the processes they had to go through to set healthy boundaries in their relationship.

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