People talk about boundaries a lot.

Boundaries are a very misunderstood relationship tool.

A boundary creates a CLEAR line of emotional or physical space between you and someone else.

For example, the fence around the yard of MY home clearly indicates a boundary of where my personal property starts. There is no question.

In human relationships we need to have boundaries.

Often, we think that a boundary is to tell someone else how they can act or behave. WE use a boundary to manipulate or coerce someone else’s behavior so they will behave in a way that we like.

This is not what setting a boundary is for.

A boundary is not there to alter the other person’s behavior or force them to act a certain way. It is there to clearly indicate how WE will behave when they cross OUR boundary line.

I love how my sister describes this part of boundaries. She uses the example of shark nets in the ocean. They are placed close to a shoreline so humans can swim in the water without the risk of shark attacks. They protect humans, but not because they stop sharks from being sharks. It just stops them from swimming inside the space we created for humans with the boundary of the net. We are not trying to rehabilitate sharks, just like setting a boundary is not the way rehabilitate other people to meet our needs. A boundary is the way you meet your own needs.

When setting a boundary you will use an “If you                , then I will                  statement. You are not telling them they can’t act that way, you are simply and clearly telling them what you will do if, or when, they do act that way.

 “You can’t call me names when we have a disagreement.” is not setting a boundary.

“If you call me names when we are having a disagreement, I will leave the room.” Is setting a boundary…but only if you actually follow through on your chosen behavior.  Otherwise, it is just an empty threat.

When you set a boundary, plan on the other person doing exactly what you asked them not to do, and plan to follow through on YOUR chosen behavior in response. Remember the boundary is for YOU, to take care of YOU.


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