Relationships & Healthy Boundaries

 

Healthy relationships are ones that bring out the best in you. Even though no relationship is perfect, healthy relationships make you feel good almost all of the time and generally bring you up and not down. Traits of a healthy relationship include: trust, honesty, compassion, clear communication, equality, and loyalty. Sometimes, when you’re stuck in an unhealthy relationship, the good times and “honeymoon phases” where everything seems good again can mask all the toxic traits that a relationship can have. Being able to point out and understand the qualities and traits of a relationship that helps you rise up (instead of being pulled down) could help you seek out positive relationships in the future, as well as notice when things seem awry. 

 

Know your limits.

You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. Identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits. What makes you upset, stressed, and uncomfortable? What can you accept and tolerate? 

 

Tune into your feelings. 

When someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue that they may be violating or crossing a boundary. Instead of automatically responding in an impulsive manner, step back when something happens that makes you feel uncomfortable and ask yourself the following: Why did it make me uncomfortable? What was said? What actions were taken? How can I appropriately respond? 

 

Be direct. 

Everyone has different communication styles, so the best option for you to clearly communicate to others is through being direct when stating your boundaries. It might feel weird and too aggressive to blatantly state that something someone said or did crossed a boundary of yours, however, if you continue to let it happen and ‘beat around the bush’ when explaining what you like/dislike, it will be more difficult for others to understand. 

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Being Assertive, Not Aggressive

There is a difference in the behavior of aggression and assertion, though they tend to commonly get mixed up and confused. Assertiveness can be seen as the halfway point between passive (letting people walk all over you) and aggressive (bullying to get your way). Assertiveness means expressing your point of view in a clear, direct way. This will minimize conflict, help you control anger, get your needs met in a more direct and positive way. 

How to communicate assertively…

1. Be clear.Try to ask for what you want openly and in a straightforward manner, and state your feelings clearly. Avoid confronting behavior and accusing others of behaviors or actions. 

2. Take a time out if you feel yourself getting aggravated or angry. If possible, delay dealing with a conversation until you feel calmer.  

3. Keep your posture positive. Make sure your body language is relaxed, and keep an upright posture. Try to keep arms uncrossed, and facial expressions neutral. Make eye contact with the other person. You want to come off as approachable, while also maintaining a sense of being in control.

Chandler Thornton