Cultivating a healthy relationship involves honoring your personal needs first. Ashley Turner details how to set boundaries in just about any relationship.
Are you depleted, irritable, or overwhelmed? It may be time to reset your boundaries. Setting healthy boundaries is the foundation for having positive, fulfilling, and uplifting relationships.
Many years ago, I “broke-up” with my best friend. I was devastated, sad, and depressed. Like any other gut-wrenching heartbreak, it took me months to garner the courage to break up and years to finally surrender and let go. She was a dynamic, charismatic, gorgeous, charming artist. We fell in love at first sight. Best friends. Soul sisters.
But…she was a flake. A huge flake. Inevitably, our dates were cancelled with lame excuses. I put up with this because she was such a delight. First, I felt slighted, then irritable, then downright angry. Finally, it just wasn’t OK anymore.
I needed new boundaries. I communicated my needs, but she simply wasn’t capable of following through on our commitments. I had to break up. Maybe, (hopefully) we’ll reconnect someday, but I needed to grow strong, respect my needs, and find friends who could consistently show up.
Healthy Ego = Healthy Boundaries
Establishing and gracefully maintaining healthy boundaries is a direct result of having a “healthy ego”—nothing to prove and nothing to hide. This is a function of the Third Chakra (Manipura)—the core or “power center” of the body-mind. The Third Chakra governs our sense of Self. When we have a strong sense of Self, we feel positive, empowered, and confident and naturally create boundaries that honor our needs as well as the needs of others.
Healthy boundaries are permeable, yet firm.
When we have low self esteem (deficient 3rd Chakra), we tend to seek love and validation from others. We may overextend ourselves or allow someone to take advantage of us. If you consistently feel depleted, irritable, or inundated, it may be an indication that it’s time to deepen and structure your boundaries more solidly.
An excessive 3rd Chakra (defended and “trying to prove something”) results in rigid boundaries and aggressively forcing, manipulating, or pushing our agenda on someone else. These are defense tactics of a “High Ego”.
Seek middle ground.
One of my favorite definitions of intimacy in a relationship is from Harriet Lerner’s book The Dance of Intimacy.
“An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the Self. Instead, each party expresses strength, vulnerability, weakness, and competence in a balanced way.”
Here are three tips to set clear boundaries that empower both you and the other person:
1. How Are You Giving Too Much? Ask For What You Need.
Are you abandoning your truth?
- Are you being taken advantage of?
- Are you not getting the recognition or credit you deserve?
- Are you the one that’s always staying late?
- Are you allowing someone to treat you in a way that is disrespectful?
- Are they not honoring your needs, even though your needs are valid?
To begin setting boundaries, you first need to communicate in a healthy, positive way. Avoid the shame – blame game. Get clear and grounded in what you want and need. Consider writing out exactly what you want in bullet points.
Approach the conversation from your most empowered space. Do a quick meditation before you approach the other person. Sit quietly. Get centered with a few deep breaths. Feel the energy rising up and down your spine. Call in your Highest Good and the Highest Good or Spirit of the other person. Visualize the conversation going smoothly and peacefully. Pray for clear communication, understanding, and that both of your deepest Truths be served. Ask Spirit to speak through you.
Then, approach the other person confidently and humbly. Ask specifically for what you need. Expect that your needs are going to be met and that the other person will hear and honor you.
Finally, ask them what they need. How can you show up with more integrity, generosity, and thoughtfulness? Think WIN–WIN.
2. Do Core Work (aka Mirror Work)
A good way to build your inner strength is through mirror work. Sit in front of a mirror, preferably first thing in the morning when you’re at your most human and humble. Look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself:
- I love you.
- I want you.
- You are special to me.
- You don’t have to be afraid anymore.
- I am here for you.
These are what we call the “Good Parent Messages” which build self-love from the inside out. We begin to mother or father ourselves and become the “inner parent” who provides love, support, understanding, and resilience from inside. When you feel the source of love inside, you naturally stand up for yourself in the outer world, just as a parent would advocate for their child.
3. Friend and Family Breakups
Sometimes we have to shift relationships because someone is not changing and we need to create safety for ourselves (see paragraph #1 above). This is especially true if you are dealing with a narcissist or an addict. If you ask repeatedly for what you need and do everything in your power to uphold your boundaries with little response, you may need to eliminate or minimize contact with someone.
Ask for help, get support, find a friend or mentor you can confide in, or reach out for professional help if you need it. Hold yourself accountable and responsible for creating empowered relationships that enhance your life—in work, romance, family, and friends. As soon as you strengthen your core, you will attract those people into your life who want to joyfully meet your needs.