10 Ways to Build and Preserve Boundaries

By

10 Ways to Build and Preserve Boundaries
Boundaries are essential in heathy relationships. Do you know how to set and maintain boundaries?

This guest article from Psych Central was written by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn, according to psychologist and coach Dana Gionta, Ph.D. We might pick up pointers here and there from experience or through watching others. But for many of us, boundary-building is a relatively new concept and a challenging one.

Having healthy boundaries means “knowing and understanding what your limits are,” Dr. Gionta said.

Below, she offers insight into building better boundaries and maintaining them.

1. Name your limits.

You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits, Gionta said. Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. “Those feelings help us identify what our limits are.”

2. Tune into your feelings.

Gionta has observed two key feelings in others that are red flags or cues that we’re letting go of our boundaries: discomfort and resentment. She suggested thinking of these feelings on a continuum from one to 10. Six to 10 is in the higher zone, she said.

If you’re at the higher end of this continuum, during an interaction or in a situation, Gionta suggested asking yourself, what is causing that? What is it about this interaction, or the person’s expectation that is bothering me?

Resentment usually “comes from being taken advantage of or not appreciated.” It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits because we feel guilty (and want to be a good daughter or wife, for instance), or someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on us, she said.

“When someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue to us they may be violating or crossing a boundary,” Gionta said.

3. Be direct.

With some people, maintaining healthy boundaries doesn’t require a direct and clear-cut dialogue. Usually, this is the case if people are similar in their communication styles, views, personalities and general approach to life, Gionta said. They’ll “approach each other similarly.”

With others, such as those who have a different personality or cultural background, you’ll need to be more direct about your boundaries. Consider the following example: “one person feels [that] challenging someone’s opinions is a healthy way of communicating,” but to another person this feels disrespectful and tense.

There are other times you might need to be direct. For instance, in a romantic relationship, time can become a boundary issue, Gionta said. Partners might need to talk about how much time they need to maintain their sense of self and how much time to spend together.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

John M. Grohol

Psychologist

Dr. John Grohol is a mental health expert and founder of Psych Central. He has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues, and the intersection of technology and psychology since 1992.

Location: Newburyport, MA
Credentials: PsyD
Website: PsychCentral
Other Articles/News by John M. Grohol:

Why Can't Your Partner Talk About Feelings?

By

Emotions give us important information that we can use to better understand our needs, priorities and limits. We can use emotions to set boundaries and make decisions. “If you’re not authentically experiencing, expressing, and learning from your emotions, then that erodes trust, security, intimacy and closeness,” said Jared DeFife, Ph.D, a ... Read more

Jealousy Ruining Your Life? Fix It By Figuring Out The Real Cause

By

Jealousy can be a problem in any type of relationship and can appear in anyone’s life at any time. You can have jealousy with other people's things, their success, their beauty, their athletic prowess, their relationship, their kids, their education, their money, and their life. It can be a tiny feeling in your gut or it can be an overwhelming ... Read more

Be Happy — It's Not Just For Your Sake

By

In case you hadn't noticed, there's been a wealth of information recently in the form of books, TV shows, CDs, DVDs, magazine articles, and even movies on a subject that is near and dear to everyone's heart. The subject is happiness. I'm not sure why it is that there seems to be more interest in happiness these days than there has been in the ... Read more

See More

PARTNER POSTS
Latest Expert Videos
Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.

Most Popular