How Independence Creates More Intimacy

Happy Couple

Beyond Forgiveness: How to develop relationships that can really keep you happy and satisfied

5. Develop a support system of people who respect your right to set boundaries. Eliminate toxic people from your life—those who want to manipulate, abuse, and control you.

How to set boundaries:

The set-up: You might want to say a little prayer or set a clear intention. “God give me the strength to hold my own, and speak my truth with love and grace.” Take a deep centering breath before the conversation or before you speak. If you do have to deal with someone who drains your energy, take a minute and imagine a protective bubble of light and love surrounding you. I like the term, “shields up!”

The Speak-up: Practice first because it is hard to do something when you haven’t done it before. Say it clearly, calmly, firmly, respectfully, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify, get angry, or apologize for the boundary you are setting. Repeat as often as needed.

The Follow-up: Consistency is the name of the game. Like with children, you may have to repeat yourself over and over again! If they try to challenge you, and MANY family members or co-dependent friends will, just say, this is what I need and I’m sorry you feel that way. (Remember you are not responsible for their feelings, but you are responsible for whether you present the boundary with love or anger.)

When I started asserting boundaries with my family, I did it very ungracefully. I promise you, it was not a pretty sight. I didn’t have a forgiveness teacher and I had to figure this out on my own. I sounded more like a 15 year old teenager having a tizzy-fit.

Everything I learned, about consistency, speaking my truth with grace, setting good intentions, works. With practice, I get better at setting needed boundaries. This does not mean it’s easy, it means that I still have to go through the steps, but it gets easier with practice. 

Note: Forgiveness may come easier now that a boundary is set. If the boundary is maintained, you won’t get those daily or weekly triggers that keep you feeling bad, hurt, sad, angry, bitter or guilty. Notice if there is a shift.

What I’d like you to remember is that forgiveness does not mean allowing someone to hurt you over and over again. It does not mean you need to be a doormat. There is a big difference between hanging onto the desire for retaliation and the need for self-protection. In fact, setting boundaries can and will bring you closer and create more intimacy in your relationship.

Lori S. Rubenstein, JD, PCC spent 18 years as a divorce attorney-mediator, however, her passion for helping others led her down the path of divorce, relationship and forgiveness coaching. She is the author of three transformational books and has a special gift of holding sacred space for people to transcend their “stories” and step into a new, more empowering life. Contact Lori now to set up a 15 minute consultation to learn how you can start to mend your own relationship hurts