Many of us allow others to treat us in ways that are uncomfortable, unhealthy or disrespectful. We remain silent rather than address our disdain for fear of retribution: what will happen if I speak up? Will I lose my job? Will my best friend get angry with me? Will my family choose to no longer speak to me? Will someone argue with me and tell me I’m wrong for feeling the way I do? There are risks involved whenever we voice our feelings and expect change. Not everyone is eager to accommodate our new requests. Some will argue, coerce or try to manipulate us back into our old patterns. But if we are unhappy and remain silent, we run the risk of becoming angry, bitter, resentful, and possibly explosive. The relationship will suffer and possibly disintegrate unless someone takes action.
All healthy relationships contain guidelines and rules. Boundaries are designed to enable each party to be treated in a way that is comfortable and acceptable to them. We all seek to be treated with dignity and respect. However, those words may have distinctly different meanings to different people. How can one fully know how to treat someone unless that individual tells them? My husband smokes. I do not. I needed to tell him that I did not want him to smoke near me. How could he have known how offensive the smell is to me or my concerns for my health had I not voiced my feelings? He chose to honor my request and in seventeen years it has never been an issue between us.
We each have certain rights and responsibilities when setting and enforcing boundaries.
1. Each party has a right to be treated in a manner suitable for them, however different from that of others.
2. One must be crystal clear as to how they expect to be treated.
3. Make certain what you are seeking is fair and reasonable. If not, reconsider your position.
4. As soon as possible, clearly express your boundaries to the other party. Let them know exactly how you want to be treated, and the actions you will take should they choose not to accommodate your request.
5. Be prepared to enforce the consequences and follow through in a timely manner. Expect results. It may take a few reminders but persistence pays off.
6. Respect the boundaries of all parties involved however dissimilar from yours.
The benefits to setting and enforcing healthy guidelines in relationships is that both parties are treated with the dignity and respect that suits them. Unhealthy interactions are limited or removed, stress and anger are mitigated, and there is greater opportunity to simply enjoy one another’s company. Boundaries make for healthier relationships in all areas of life.
For more on boundaries, read The Secret Side of Anger available @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html.