Julie Galloway, LPC-RPT
Mother-daughter relationships often struggle with unhealthy boundaries. One way to ease into reconnecting with each other is by setting clear-cut boundaries. Good news, asserting yourself will benefit your relationship with each other and with other relationships, too.
What are Poor Boundaries?
o Having unexpected and frequent visits
o Unsolicited input about your friends, partners or co-workers
o Unsolicited advice
o Frequent comments about your diet or body
o Interfering in your personal life
What are Healthy Boundaries?
o Identifying what your own unique values are, some of which may be different from theirs
o Being able to act in a way that is consistent with your values and beliefs
o Being clear on what you need
o Establishing rules on how you would like to be treated.
The 7 (Bs) to Healthy Boundaries
Be clear and concise.
Being clear and concise means being straightforward and stating exactly what it is you need from them without apologizing. Make sure that your request is concrete, coherent, and measurable. The more you practice being concise, the easier it gets.
Being assertive involves stating how you feel and what you need without trying to hurt the other person. This includes maintaining eye contact, maintaining a sense of calm, being open to having a conversation, actively listening to the other person, monitoring your tone, having a straight posture, and being direct.
This means understanding where the other person is coming from and understanding the difficulties they may be experiencing, while also simultaneously honoring your needs. Practicing compassion helps us stay grounded and come from a place of love versus defensiveness.
When setting a boundary, it may help to show appreciation toward what you are grateful for in the relationship Showing appreciation tells them that you still value them showing up in your life. You just would like how they show up to look differently.
If your requests for healthier boundaries are still being ignored, try the "broken record" technique. This is a practice in assertive communication where you do not engage in tangents, arguments, or circular conversation. Rather, you continue to repeat your needs clearly and concisely over and over. This demonstrates that you are sticking to your boundaries and are not interested in engaging in an argument or negotiation about your boundaries.
Be aware of your limits.
Take the time to be clear about what you are willing to tolerate and not tolerate. Where will you draw the line? There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to set limits. This is a healthy part of individuation. Additionally, if the conversation isn't going in a direction that is helpful or productive, know when it is time for you to end the conversation. Pay attention to how you are feeling and how much discomfort is healthy for you. If you feel like you need a break or walk away from the conversation, it's important to do so to prevent yourself from getting angry and escalating the conversation.
Be willing to let go of the guilt.
Setting boundaries can stir up feelings of doubt, fear, and guilt. In order for us to be able to practice assertive communication and compassion toward ourselves, we have to practice recognizing feelings of guilt around setting boundaries. Guilt can be an indicator that we feel like we are doing something wrong, and it's important to fully know that setting boundaries is not wrong. Boundaries are an important part in preserving the relationship and building your sense of self.
At the end of the day, you get to decide your boundaries and your terms.
Remind yourself of why you are setting your boundaries.
Practice self-validation and self-compassion before, during, and after the conversation.