“You need boundaries… Even in our material creations, boundaries mark the most beautiful of places, between the ocean and the shore, between the mountains and the plains, where the canyon meets the river.”Wm. Paul Young
Have you ever found yourself on the receiving end of someone’s tirade while sitting in your living room, the board room, or at a family gathering? Have you found yourself screaming in your mind, “stop”, yet the word is stuck in your throat and you cannot even imagine saying it out loud?
Well, guess what? This is just what I’m encouraging you to do. It really is okay, and actually emotionally healthy to say, “stop” if we are feeling that someone is speaking to us in a way that feels uncomfortable or is unacceptable.
Don’t Only Yield to The Needs of Others
As an emotionally healthy adult, it is our responsibility to teach people how we want to be treated. We cannot assume that the other person knows how we are feeling, or if something is upsetting us. In part, this means if someone says or does something that is not okay with us, then we need and deserve to say, “stop.”
This can be done in a non-aggressive and healthy manner.
- Don’t shout, speak in a calm, yet firm voice.
- Be mindful of your tone of voice and body language.
- Use “I” instead of “You” statements.
- Your response may sound something like this, “Please stop. I need you to stop.”
Developing Acceptable Signals & Healthy Boundaries
I encourage the individuals and couples that we work with in our psychotherapy practice to establish guidelines around how they want to be treated by the people in their life. The time to have this discussion is when both individuals are in “neutral”. When there is no emerging issue, or current conflict for either person. This is a healthy way of discussing how each person wants to be treated. When both people agree to this, healthier interactions tend to take place.
The focus of the discussion is utilizing a very specific and individualized method of setting emotional boundaries. What works for one person, may not be satisfactory for the other. Therefore, it’s important to determine what each person is comfortable with in their communication with each other.
“Boundaries serve as a reminder that there are two distinct people in the relationship with their own perspectives, needs, feelings, and interests.” ~ Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC and relationship expert
Many may prefer that the other not put their hand up, or use assertive body language, to interrupt while communicating. Hence why it’s important to come up with the words, and acceptable signals, beforehand. This way both people are comfortable with what’s established so that’s part of the agreement. This discussion, and new communication method, is planned and processed in advance, so this becomes the new normal.
For more tips on establishing communication guidelines, please click on the link below for my complete article.
My wish for you today is that you enjoy healthy communication with those you love that lets you express yourself fully, and nurture those relationships.
-Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling