Five Ways to Create Boundaries in Your Family
Creating boundaries can be difficult, especially if you are in a tight-knit family. Families are inclined to know about our everyday lives, which is normal to an extent. There are healthy boundaries that many families overstep, and that is where toxic relationships begin to form. Physically, boundaries are defined as a line that marks an area’s limit. We know this from “keep out” signs or caution tape. When boundaries are discussed in a social sense, this means limiting a subject or sphere of activity. A great example of boundaries is when a teenage girl is upset and slams her bedroom door. That is a clear red flag that says, “Leave me alone,” and everyone knows not to poke the bear.
Sometimes it is challenging to address boundaries with friends or family. The conversation may feel awkward or forced, but your boundaries are essential. You are your own sanctuary, and you deserve to have peace within your physical, socioemotional, and psychological space. Having your personal and mental space crowded is uncomfortable and can feel overwhelming. Often, when boundaries are crossed, it feels as though you’ve been betrayed by others who are sneaking and prying into your business. This can result in low self-esteem and humiliation. Boundaries are critical for self-care and maintaining a healthy identity.
- Know Yourself
Putting yourself first is the introduction to effective boundaries. Building up self-esteem is vital in getting to know yourself. Typically, those with low self-esteem have loose boundaries that are frequently broken. It is impossible to maintain boundaries if you allow people to intrude and easily encroach upon your space. Get to know yourself by spending time alone and partaking in self-care activities. Eat fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. You may try going for a massage or de-stressing at the gym. Discover new hobbies or interests and take the time to appreciate the unique person you are.
It may also help to follow these six steps to get to know yourself:
- Take the time to be still
- Realize who you truly are, not who you want to be
- Find out what you are good at (and not good at)
- Find what you are passionate about
- Ask for feedback
- Assess your relationships
Journaling may help with taking these steps. The act of journaling allows individuals to engage in a period of quiet self-reflection. They may discover something about themselves they never knew before!
- Understand Respect
Respect is perhaps one of the most important characteristics or attributes to maintain when creating healthy boundaries. Regardless of age, gender, or status, everyone deserves to be respected. If you respect others, they will (or should) respect you in return. Learn to listen to others’ boundaries, and be sure to follow them. Set your own limits and refuse to entertain people that do not respect them. If you are in a situation with your family where you feel blatantly disrespected, it is okay to verbalize that. Remain calm, think before you speak, and present the scenario in a non-biased way. Your parents and siblings will most likely be taken aback by the control you have exhibited over yourself and the situation.
- Regulate Contact
The contact you have with others is a manageable boundary. Your phone is a point of contact that you have complete control over. If your siblings are invasive, you may consider silencing their notifications or blocking them in severe cases. People who lack healthy emotional boundaries can be complicated to deal with, and you should not have to deal with them if you'd rather not. If you find your family dinners tend to turn negative or a point of contention because of a particularly sensitive topic, it is okay to remove yourself from the situation. By regulating your contact with negative influences, you are nourishing your mental and emotional health.
- Self Affirmations
Partaking in self-affirmations every day can boost self-perception and positively impact relationships. Individuals with low self-worth may say, “I’m not important. What I say doesn't matter.” Self-affirmations are beneficial for identifying and replacing these negative thoughts. Instead, once the thought has been caught and captured, it can be replaced with, “I am worthy and capable. Everything I say is full of value.” Self-affirmations are most effective when they are done for at least 30 days.
- Communication is Key
Make your boundaries visible and communicate them with others. Pay attention to the situations when you are low on energy, feel butterflies in your stomach, or want to cry. Emotions are the biological alarm systems for letting us know something is wrong. We need to pay attention to this unease and decide to communicate the issue with others. It may feel uncomfortable in a family dynamic to verbalize your needs for boundaries. However, once you start, you may find that it is a relief for other members of your family as well.
When someone crosses your personal boundaries, it may feel as though you have been exposed and humiliated. It is frustrating not to have privacy or reciprocity, which is why boundaries should be placed in every relationship, whether at work, in your family, or with your friends. The emotional distress that stems from nosy, inquisitive people can incite feelings of anxiety, helplessness, or panic. If you or someone you know is experiencing a toxic relational environment that lacks boundaries, contact a local support group or reach out for help. At Achieve Medical Center, we offer a wide variety of therapies and treatments. Our center can help you find healthy techniques for developing appropriate boundaries. Achieve Medical is a unique, multidisciplinary, private psychiatric and mental health practice. We provide comprehensive mental health services for Southern California, Oregon, and Alaska regions. To schedule a free consultation with Achieve Medical, contact us today at (619) 375-3977. Start your journey to wellness today.