Whenever boundaries are discussed in session, a lot of clients wonder how they can maintain a close relationship with the other person while implementing new and firm boundaries. This is a fairly common concern. Sometimes when there is a lack of boundaries, it creates a false sense of closeness. People become hesitant to lose that closeness as they begin to separate and make their boundaries known. Here are three tips you can use in order to set boundaries with people but focus on continuing the relationship.
Explain why you are setting the boundaries
Often times when people are not used to setting boundaries, we forget to explain why we are setting boundaries and the importance of it in a relationship. If you are setting a boundary with a parent that likes to speak badly about another parent, let the original parent know that you want to be close with them and be supportive but when they talk badly about the other parent it makes you feel like you are picking sides. Let them know your intention is to continue to have a relationship with them but in a different way. They may not understand your explanation and reasoning but in the end, it’s only for you to share your experience and allow them to feel how they want to about it.
Reinforce the usage of boundaries
When you first set your boundaries, sometimes people will need reminders. They will try to test your boundaries to see how loose or firm they are. If you are determined to keep them in place, it will be important to remind the other party of the boundary. In the example above, you may need to remind your parent that you are not going to listen to them talk poorly about the other parent more than once. You don’t have to do it harshly or negatively. It might take reminders. And it might be a good indicator to you how firmly you have set the boundary, if the other person is constantly trying to step over it.
Look for alternatives for connection
You can look for other ways to connect with the person, especially within those boundaries. Again with the example from above, you can ask your parent to go to lunch with you to discuss other areas of your life instead of the things that are a trigger for you. Find ways to connect that feel safe to you and meet the other person in their world.
Maintaining boundaries with difficult people is one of the most common issues people see for in therapy for. It takes strength and commitment to yourself in order to follow through on. In the long run, the relationship with benefit from boundaries and this type of interaction.
Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-258-8845 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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