Why Boundaries Fail

The biggest pushback that I hear in sessions about boundaries is

"I can't say that" or "That won't change their behaviour." To which I say, true. 

Boundaries fail when we expect the other person to change their behaviour because we tell them to.

Boundaries are not about expecting the other person to change.

So, what are boundaries?

Setting boundaries serves as a guide for how I want to behave in relationships. It means changing my thoughts and behaviour to align with how I want to feel in an interaction. Boundaries are about my actions, not the other person's. They should reflect my values and can enhance my relationships and mental well-being. Effective boundaries empower me in my interactions with others (and myself) and help me lead an authentic life.

In my experience, about 80% of effective boundaries are communicated nonverbally. This doesn't mean we can't communicate our requests (e.g., "Please don't talk to me about Sally"). This means that if the person's behaviour doesn't honour the boundaries, I may need to change my behaviour (e.g., walk away when Sally is brought up, change the subject, or choose to end the relationship). Boundaries act as a roadmap for how I want to show up in relationships. This means I am going to change my thoughts and behaviour to reflect how I want to feel in an interaction. Boundaries are about what I am doing, not what the other person is doing.

Boundaries are meant to reflect our values and can be used to enrich our relationships and mental well-being. Effective boundaries are a tool used to ensure I feel empowered in my interactions with myself and others and serve as guidelines to help us lead authentic lives. 

Empowering Yourself Through Boundaries

Setting boundaries is important to our self-worth and empowers us to honour our needs, protect our well-being, and build resilience. By respecting your limits and communicating them effectively (with your words or your actions), you create a foundation for a healthier and more fulfilling life.

If you're seeking to develop stronger boundaries and want guidance on how to start, let's chat. Together, we can explore what feels hard about setting boundaries and manageable steps to establishing healthier boundaries. 

Janice Lyons

Janice Lyons

Owner and Registered Social Service Worker

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