There are healthy relationships in our lives and unhealthy relationships. Realising the difference can take you by surprise. Even asking yourself what relationships feel good in your life, are hard work or make you feel uneasy? Take your time exploring that question and even sit in front of the mirror and say a name and see your own facial reactions, feel your bodies response like tension or warmth.
Feeling more confident in relationships requires feeling more confident inside youself. Ensuring you have healthy boundaries in life can sound unfriendly but its actually the kindest thing you can do for yourself and loved ones. If you cannot feel safe in your own world, own skin and in your thoughts then your boundaries are low and you may find some people just step over or even try to rub out your boundaries and take advantage of what you can give.
Different types of boundaries
Opinion- We’ve all been in that discussion when some one’s opinion is very strong and they want you to dismiss your opinion and take on theirs. When you feel your opinion is being undermined or not respected then a boundary has been crossed and the feeling of an unhealthy relationship can start to form. The pressure can build and before you know it there is an argument or the opposite where survival mechanisms kick in to please or even appease. Its ok to disagree, its ok to say “we will have to agree not to agree”. You own this; these are your values, your beliefs and they can be different to other people’s. This is your boundary as your opinion matters, it belongs to you. In a heated family discussion on my house management skills or should I say no one could find their socks I was starting to respond defensively and get cross that everyone was shouting at me as though I had hidden the socks, so I just got in the car and drove off. When asked where I was on the phone I responded, “I’ve gone for eggs”. It had never occurred to me that I did not have to defend my self that I could just decide not to partake in the sock hunting game even though I knew no one had checked the clean washing basket as I suggested. Taking back power and owning my space, and if I’m not wanting an argument, I don’t have to have it. I can decide it’s not for me.
Time- When other people suddenly need your time, need your help and your day gets thrown upside down. This is when you have allowed this to happen so often that your time being demanded just comes the normal. People actually get upset with you if you say I’m really sorry I can’t, I have a wedding to go to or a hospital appointment. This is the time trap and you’ve probably been playing it for years and are very good at it. Rescuing the situation, helping people manage their time or their tasks is something you excel at. So here’s a little tool to use when you suddenly feel this game is happening with people. Tell the person you recognise their problem, how you can help them and what you are willing to give. Sounds easy? I’ll give you an example. “Can you help; I need to get this report in t day and I’m struggling,” says a work colleague. Ok can be a response ‘I hear that you have been ambitions with time and the deadline set is not going to be met.’ this response is to identify the problem is theirs. “I can give you two hours this afternoon to help you and I will have to move a few things around”. This response sets out what you are willing to give and how it impacts your day by helping. I’ve got some other ideas for you to consider like asking other people to help or going back to the manager and asking for an extension of time’. This sets out that the problem is theirs and you are just putting forward solutions. This response may seem very alien to you as a normal reaction would be to drop everything to help the work college but there’s one question you missed…. ‘Why do you need help?’ ‘Oh.’’ says the colleague, ‘I’ve got last minute tickets to a show so I’m going to leave work early to get there.’ Sometimes people solve their problems by dumping it on other people because they miscalculated their diary, or what they could do. Helping is an amazing skill but it doesn’t hurt to clarify what the problem is, how you can help and what you are willing to give in helping them deal with their problem. I nearly missed a friend’s wedding (I was bridesmaid) and worked from 5am to help with an evaluation that had to be in as the manager was struggling to meet the deadline for the report that was required to release the final funding payment. I was so busy rescuing I had not checked into the manager why this was happening so last minute and then found out later he had decided to go away with his girlfriend for the weekend. You can help friends with problems but not make the problem yours and then they can walk away and get cross with you for not being amazing at completing the problem. This time don’t own their problem; own what time you can give.
Mood- this boundary is a very subtle one and often missed. We forget that we pick up on other people’s moods, their insecurities, worries and concerns in life. If your nature is wanting to keep the peace then you will be very affected by people around you. Let’s see this as a gift, a lovely box wrapped up with a ribbon. Open it and look inside. Oh it’s not what you want; it’s a cake that’s gone mouldy and smells a bit. Are you going to sit there and eat it in front of the person or are you going to be polite put it to one side and say ‘thank you, I’ll have it later’, then throw it in the bin. Well sometimes people hand us their moods and expect us to take it, accept it as ours. So next time you feel some one else’s mood is affecting you, its ok to realise it doesn’t belong to you; its theirs and you can put it to one side, be polite but not have to eat it and suffer in silence. I’m determined to be happy is a lovely expression and very useful when people are giving you their moods wrapped up in ribbons.
I always love to think of a chalk circle drawn around me and that I invite people into my circle and no one can come in if I don’t want them to. This is a lovely boundary to visualise as it can help realise when you feel people are too close, have invaded your space, time and even how you feel. Its wonderful to have people close as long as we have invited them into our chalk circle but not to have them there if you don’t want them to be. Healthy relationships are built on healthy boundaries on what you can give and what you can’t; what you are willing to receive and what you don’t want.