So. We started this series with an introduction to good words, talking about how to unite, unify, reach out to others. It’s so important to be real, sincere, human, you know? I hope that is the greatest understatement of the year. “We know, Katie. It’s important to be sincere.” But in remembering that, we also gain confidence in that sincerity to not only be available to others, but also to be unavailable. It’s good to unite, be empathetic and compassionate. Of course. But it’s taken me a long time to learn that it is also good, necessary, healthy and strong to defend, protect and insulate. Today, in our second installment, we talk about using words wisely to Protect.
Boundaries are essential to having healthy relationships. They aren’t fun to talk about, but without them, we are undefined people who can’t say or do what we need. Healthy boundaries protect our identity, mental well being and sense of individuality. They are crucial for developing autonomy and responsibility, and they are a huge component of self-care. In fact, Joaquin Selva, psychologist, writes, “a lack of healthy boundaries can negatively affect all aspects of someone’s life.”
There are many research-based and proved methods for setting boundaries, but I am not the person to write about all of them. I am no expert, certainly. Many of them, though, are categorized into similar topics that sound like “stating your needs,” “communicating directly,” and “giving yourself permission.” I like these easy, user-friendly ways of remembering what the point is, what our goals are, in setting boundaries and protecting our hearts, needs and identities! So, our Using Words Wisely series features four expressions to communicate these boundaries, these definitions of ourselves.
Remember, though, like we talked about in the first installment, they MUST be said directly, genuinely and with compassion. No sarcasm, passivity or underlying anger, or the sentence loses its effect and actually confuses and worsens the relationship. That is not the goal.
I’ve had enough.
I’m not responsible for your behavior.
I don’t give you permission to make me feel inferior (cue Eleanor Roosevelt).
and (my personal favorite): That’s not a thing.
All of these expressions, again, should be something we’re comfortable with saying. And that’s not easy, especially when you feel angry, attacked or manipulated. But, when we say them in a non-confrontational, simple way, they will speak volumes for us, and allow us to cultivate and live in great relationships – with our children, our parents, our friends, our spouses, our employers. Protecting our personal, emotional and mental space is of vital importance – ask anyone who hasn’t. Be proud of who you are, be confident of what you offer.
Yes? Do these make sense, as well? I’d love to hear about your experiences setting boundaries and your relationships that have benefitted because of them.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard Baruch