The four stages when establishing personal boundaries (Part 2)

Do you know of any men or women in your circle that choose to stay in unhealthy relationships because they embrace mediocrity or are unable to leave? They accept the actions of their partners only because choosing otherwise is almost impossible, incomprehensible and would create unmanageable discomfort … Or maybe you know of parents and children who cannot separate and who haven’t cut their symbolic “umbilical cord” for decades, that may fear living alone?… Or maybe you have met  manipulators who accuse, attack, use and insist on their advice or conversely victims who pretend, bend, plead and so on?

All of the actions of people mentioned above are reduced to the infringement of their own boundaries or violation of boundaries of others. How do we avoid this behavior? The answer is — to improve communication skills and strengthen boundaries. The average person speaks about 16,000 words a day, however this quantity does not necessarily guarantee a quality healthy relationships within personal boundaries. Therefore, it’s important to manage our talking skills, so that they serve our comfort and happiness.

In my courses I teach how to develop effective communication on different levels — with our own self and with others.

1. On the first stage, usually start with exploring our communication space. With different people our boundaries can be different, so it is very useful to understand what is permissible in relationships within the different categories of people: strangers, colleagues, friends, relatives and so on. By analyzing past experiences, we are also looking for the person’s “Achilles heel” e.i. what is their weakness. This is the retrospective part of work.

2. On the second stage, we work on a picture of the future — how we would like our communication to appear and who can be included and excluded from our communication circle. It is also important to determine what actions and behaviors of others we consider unacceptable. After this, we create a “memorandum”, identifying acceptable and unacceptable levels of communication. It is the prospective part of work.

3. On the third stage, before implementing this “memorandum”, a person needs to believe in them-self and their ability to impose it. For this to manifest a person should turn to their inner strengths, capabilities and other individual traits. The unconditional right to our valuable existence should be understood and accepted. I call this the introspective part of work.

4. On the fourth stage, we need to learn to convey our needs to other people in a positive manner, informing them if they have violated our boundaries or have acted disrespectfully towards us. At this level, we practice conflict resolution techniques in the event other parties will disagree with our “memorandum”. At this point we practice a very important quality that many people lack — their ability to say “no”. We find the balance between being there for others and our “egoism”, which is important when establishing healthy personal boundaries and building the “right” relationship. This is what I call the active part of work.

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