Can you create boundaries without blame? Part I

Most of the time, when we set a boundary to protect what matters to us (values, health, lifestyle, integrity, privacy etc.), there is an impact on others. Because of course, THEY are who the boundary is keeping out.

Setting healthy boundaries with minimal emotion helps us accept and embrace limitations in a healthy way - which keeps us progressing...
Setting healthy boundaries with minimal emotion helps us accept and embrace limitations in a healthy way – which keeps us progressing…

The tendency can be (okay, MY tendency can be…), to try to apply reason and logic to the situation. That occurs when I’m trying to convince the other person of the “rightness” of my choice (e.g. I need be home by 10 so I get enough sleep etc.) and get them to agree with me. It’s a little like “I’ll set this boundary with you right here if that’s okay with you”. Hopefully you see the problem here?

A further extension of logic and reason – independent of whether you’re convincing the other – is to make them wrong, as in “I didn’t get enough sleep because you kept us out too late”. Or worse, “you’re obviously an idiot if you don’t understand me and my needs”. We barely know how to take care of ourselves so why should we expect others to get it?

At it’s simplest, boundary setting is about what’s right for me in terms of the best way to take care of myself. Nobody has to agree or get it (though an explanation seems respectful). Nobody else has to be wrong. It is saying some version of “if you do this, I’ll do that” or, “in these circumstances, I’m going to do this”.

Consider this quote:

Boundaries… should be firm enough to keep our values and priorities clear, open enough to communicate our priorities to the right people, yet closed enough to withstand assault from the thoughtless and mean”.   Anne Katherine, author of Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin

Setting boundaries maturely without blame takes considerable intention and practice. Can you get better at it? When? How? ~Z

Part II