Ask Dr. Joy: Setting Boundaries

By WEEK Producer

February 20, 2013 Updated Feb 20, 2013 at 10:23 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- Boundaries…do you have them or do people trample over you and you find yourself on the ground wondering why you feel buried with resentment, hurt, and disappointment?

Tonight we will look at the complex discussion of establishing healthy boundaries without becoming an isolationist.

What are boundaries?
* Knowing where you start and another person begins.
* Establishing what you are responsible for and what is not yours to address.
* Discovering your autonomy and self esteem without being invaded.
* Finding a healthy way to be yourself without blending and becoming emeshed into another person and their issues.

Why do people have such a hard time establishing boundaries?
* Fear of rejection
* Fear of non-acceptance
* Fear of being alone
* Fear of conflict
* Fear of being abandoned
* Guilt, shame and messages of responsibility

What are some beginning steps to establishing boundaries with another person?
* Know yourself. Ask yourself what is important and know what you value and view as essential. You can’t set a limit until you know yourself.
* Understand that you do have a “right”. It is okay to establish a boundary and let someone know when they are stepping over your comfort level.
* Saying “no” is acceptable. Boundaries include the freedom to say you are not willing or do not desire to do something. It is important to acknowledge your feelings and set limits...as long as it is not done aggressively or with malice.
* Discuss a boundary by being positive and empathetic. Assume that the other person isn’t trying to harm you and focus on a clear message of your limitations.
* Don’t over-explain. Be direct and short in your explanation. When you open yourself to long explanations you open yourself up to lengthy responses and opportunities for loopholes and exceptions.
* Establish boundaries with grace. Boundaries should be discussed when calm, when you have had time to contemplate, and done without a motivation of punishment and retribution.
* Realize that you are caring for yourself. Establishing boundaries is a means of maintaining your safety and personal responsibility. Remember that being a doormat is not caring for yourself, and those types of relationships foster a long term relationship of resentment, anger, and pain.

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