Setting Boundaries


Are your boundaries in place? Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Alex Bloom stopped by to tell us how to set them and keep them strong.

Boundaries. We here about them all the time and know we need to set them...but how? Think of all the times when we've had an interaction - or been in a relationship for that matter - where these weren't respected? The other brings their baggage to the situation and we end up feeling 'slimed' or even violated? Or the opposite: we overstep only to be snapped at or walk away feeling frustrated the other doesn't do what we want.

Over the years of working with folks day in and day out around this idea, I came up with a easy way of understanding this often confusing concept. And I simply call it the "50/50".

Imagine a vertical separating you and the other person. That line represents the 'boundary' between you two...not just physically but psychologically as well. Next, we understand that we are 100% responsible for what lies within our half. While it's very true we influence others, we only have control of what's behind that line. Once we cross over, it's an illusion thinking we're going to gain anything constructive; our self empowerment only lies within our "50".

This idea is not just about physical boundaries, of course, but emotional and psychological as well. So often we cross that line, even with good intentions. We might excel at people pleasing or the opposite, people continually take advantage of us. Whatever the scenario, we're always getting "emotional feedback." When we over-give at our own expense how do we feel? Drained? Resentful? How about when we fail to stand up for ourselves and people continue to take advantage of us? The emotional feedback in that case is usually anger (which is one of the purposes of that emotion).

This concept has two layers as well: not just externally when we're conversing with others, but internally as well. How many times have we left the conversation, we're the only ones in the room, and yet we're still in that same space - replaying the interaction over and over as though it were still going on and feeling bent out of shape? We're stepping over that line and it's time we bracketed things off inside. So if our 'emotional feedback' is giving us something strong, that's an important clue. Pay attention to that...or as I say: we need a check up from the neck up!

The potency of this concept lies in its simplicity. Asking ourselves, "Is this my 50?" can many times be all it takes to get us back on track in terms of figuring out what we need to do next.

For more helpful tips from Dr. Alex Bloom, visit his blog.