The #1 Mistake You're Making When Setting Boundaries


Hint: It's not about them; it's about you.

I'll never forget the first time, using effective communication, I created a truly effective boundary with my mother. What's funny is that I didn't even realize that's what I was doing.

The short(ish) version of the story is that I used to gossip with her about other family members (family members with whom she no longer had relationships, but I did).

After a while it started to feel icky ... it was out of alignment with who I wanted to be, but I was afraid to tell her because I didn't want her to be mad at me.

I knew (based on previous experience) that if I just simply came out and said, "I don't want to talk about so-and-so," she'd cajole, lash out, manipulate or outright intimidate me into doing it anyway.

Or she might say something like, "Oh, well excuse me, Little Miss Perfect."

And then it came to me. The next time she asked about so-and-so all I had to do is say, "Oh, he/she is fine." And then shut up.

And if she pressed, I could say, "I don't know ... I haven't talked with him/her lately." And then shut up.

And it worked!

No, she didn't stop asking, but I stopped engaging.

Without knowing it, I established a boundary without making the mistake I had made so many times before when setting boundaries:

I didn't expect her to change; I changed.

I established a silent boundary that felt good to me and honored who I wanted to be. I felt empowered and sure of myself, and that's what creating good, healthy boundaries is all about.

The biggest mistake most people make is expecting the other person to change as a result of having created the boundary.

Good boundaries are a sign of emotional adulthood. They promote self-responsibility and empowerment, which leads to closer relationships.

Weak (or no) boundaries are a sign of emotional childhood; they promote enmeshment, which distances us from others.

When a woman becomes a mother but hasn't yet stepped into emotional adulthood, it's a pretty good bet that she won't know how to set healthy boundaries. And if she can't or won't set healthy boundaries, then her children won't learn either.

Ready to learn how to set some kickass boundaries that feel good and honor who you are? Check out my interactive, online class: Take No Sh** But Do No Harm: This Is NOT Your Mother's Boundary-Setting Advice!