Boundaries are not just rules. They are expectations that exist to make our relationships healthy, according to clinical social worker Keri Ann Dyer. We asked for her top tips on setting basic boundaries that will make relationships with family, friends, and significant others healthier and happier.
1. State your preferences. Tell the other person what you like, what you don’t like, what you won’t tolerate, what you disagree with, and other preferences. Learn his or her preferences too.
2. Express the truth. Be honest about the way certain actions or words have affected you.
Keri says, “We may say, ‘Oh sure, I’ll go to that movie,’ when what we really mean is, ‘I’ll go, but I want to go on a walk—I prefer that.’ Or someone hurts our feelings and we just pretend and go on. … [Expressing truth] is saying things like, ‘I am hurt,’ or, ‘I am exhausted,’ or, ‘I am disappointed.’”
3. Define consequences. The other person might not respond respectfully to your honesty and continue to cross boundaries. If boundaries are crossed, what the consequences be? State them clearly and follow through.
4. Remove yourself from the situation if needed. When a conversation is turning into an attack from one or both sides, take a breather and remove yourself from the situation for a time. Come together again when your thoughts are composed and emotions are settled. In more serious cases, create physical distance between you and the other person and ask for help from someone you trust.
Hear Keri explain these tips in more detail and offer her thoughts on “bad boundaries” in this episode of Mormon Channel Daily.
What tips and tricks do you use to make your relationships the best they can be? Share them in the comments!