Healthy boundaries equal healthy relationships.
One way to develop and maintain healthy relationships is to create healthy boundaries with family and friends. When we do this, we honor ourselves and our loved ones. We respect each other’s needs and values. We accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We love each other unconditionally.
A key piece to creating healthier boundaries is clean, clear communication. We need to know our limits and we need to communicate these to others in a respectful manner without judgment, blame or manipulation. Think about how you like to be treated; then treat others this way.
Here are several suggestions for how to create healthy boundaries with friends and family.
Be clear about your needs. Check in with yourself to see what you need before you agree to anything with loved ones. For example, if your mother wants you to come over for dinner, but you are tired and grumpy, don’t cave in out of guilt or obligation. Be honest about how you feel so she doesn’t take it personally and set another date to get together. Otherwise resentment will creep in and ruin your relationship. And remember to honor other people’s needs for alone-time, privacy, and such.
Honor your values. Each of us has our own set of values; those things we hold near and dear to our hearts. It’s important for us to be clear about our values while honoring other people’s values, which may differ from ours. For example, some people value being kind above honesty so may not share their true opinion for fear it will hurt another’s feelings. Others hold honesty above everything else so will be blunt with the truth. Neither is right or wrong, good or bad, just different. Let your friends and family know what your values are, but be willing to respect theirs as well.
Respect people’s time. Time is a rare commodity these days. Set clear boundaries about how you want to spend your time and who you want to spend it with. But also respect how others choose to use their time. For example, you may want to spend a certain amount of time each week socializing with friends, but your friends may prefer to spend time working, exercising or on their own. Don’t take it personally – we each have our own interests which don’t always coincide with the interests of family and friends.
Know what’s appropriate and inappropriate. Our needs, values and interests will determine what we each deem appropriate or inappropriate. Knowing this helps us to create healthy boundaries. For example, one person might view loaning money and doing favors as an acceptable part of friendship or family relations. But their friend or sibling might see this as crossing a boundary that could imbalance the relationship or cause resentment in the long run. We each need to know our limits and communicate this in a loving way to others. We also need to understand our friends and family’s viewpoint so we don’t take things personally.
Give yourself and others space. How much mental, physical, emotional and energetic space do you need at any given time? For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed mentally or emotionally, you might not be in a good space to listen to a friend’s issues or drama. Communicate this honestly and ask for a time-out. If you notice a family member struggling with a problem, check in to see if they want help before caretaking or rescuing.
This extends to energetic boundaries as well. We are all sensitive to the thoughts and judgments of others. Create healthy energy boundaries by keeping your energy, thoughts and reactions in your own space, while at the same time releasing other people’s energy from your space.
By honoring each other’s needs, values, time, and space we develop happier and healthier relationships in the long run.
Do you have any questions or additional suggestions for how to create healthy boundaries with family and friends? Please share below.