Relationships in our lives range from those very close to us, to coworkers, neighbors and friends. No matter the relationship, healthy boundaries are a must if we want to have solid connections and emotional safety. But where do we begin?
Focus on What is Yours, not Theirs. It’s so easy to initially focus out there on what the other person is doing, not doing, can’t understand, can’t see how their behavior is hurting you, etc. But staying there is guaranteed to drive you crazy and not resolve a thing. We need to bring it back to ourselves, and figure out what our thoughts, feelings and fears are around their behavior. THIS is what we begin to own and sit with.
Sit With What You Need to Accept. Focusing on others keeps us from having to metabolize the reality that we don’t want to look at. Maybe they don’t care as much as we want them to. They don’t see the issue like we do. Perhaps they will never change, and therefore not be what we need, or someone we can stay with. The stakes may be high if you risk losing them. We can’t do anything healthy unless and until we come to realize we need to accept what is and not go back into denial.
Identify What Your Boundaries Are. Then we need to figure out what we need to do take care of ourselves. Often, this involves working on detachment first, and then figuring out what you need to do to feel ok. Is it setting limits on your relationship with them? Ways you might self-protect from any of the consequences of their actions? For example, if your spouse is overspending, what is your plan to have them own that choice, and you not to be as affected by it? Do you split the finances, have a plan for them to earn back trust? Cancel the credit card?
Take Responsibility for What You Feel, Need and Do. What matters most is to take ownership of what belongs to you, and what you need to do to take care of you, while being respectful of them. This sounds easier than it is at times. It means grieving outcomes you’ve been either wanting or truly dreading. Yet it also means both you and them can feel free to think, feel, do and choose what feels right for you. Each of you takes ownership of your choices so there can be trust.
Ultimately, a foundation of trust is essential for us to have anything else in a relationship, and without healthy separateness, it isn’t possible.