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Dealing with family and boundaries: expert advice. In simple terms, boundaries are like the invisible lines we draw around ourselves to define what we’re okay with and what we’re not. Deborah Ashway, a mental health counselor, emphasizes that boundaries are essential for our protection.

The Role of Boundaries

Boundaries are crucial for keeping our relationships healthy. Kami Orange, a boundary coach, describes them as a way to communicate our needs and priorities, both to others and to ourselves. They’re not about shutting people out; they’re about maintaining valuable relationships.

Understanding Boundaries

Nedra Glover Tawwab, a therapist, explains that boundaries can be both spoken and expressed through actions. They serve to protect various aspects of your life, such as emotions, personal space, mental health, and belief systems.

Setting Boundaries with Loved Ones

Boundaries are not just for dealing with conflict or toxic people. They’re equally important in nurturing relationships you cherish. You can use them to address your personal space needs with your partner or even to maintain a healthy connection with close family members.

The Benefits of Early Boundary Setting

Expressing boundaries before a situation escalates can save relationships. Setting clear expectations can help you avoid conflicts and enjoy lasting connections. For example, you can prevent a friend from becoming a former friend by expressing your needs.

Identifying Your Boundaries

To set boundaries, you first need to understand what they are for you. Every person’s boundaries are unique. Kami Orange suggests that you start by recognizing your needs, limits, and priorities. It’s also useful to consider what you’re avoiding, as that often points to areas where boundaries are needed.

Practical Boundary Setting

Setting boundaries effectively involves clearly stating the issue and what you need. It’s about being direct and concise. Instead of saying, “You always criticize my parenting,” express what you require. For instance, “I appreciate your involvement with my kids, but I’d prefer if you discuss concerns privately rather than criticizing me publicly.”

Remember: Boundaries Are for You

Your boundaries are about protecting your needs, not controlling others. Dr. Chloe Carmichael, a clinical psychologist, emphasizes that you can’t force others to respect your boundaries. If they don’t, it’s not your responsibility to manage their behavior. Instead, focus on how you’ll adjust your behavior when your boundaries are not respected.

In essence, setting and maintaining boundaries is about self-care, preserving your well-being, and nurturing the relationships that matter to you. It’s a valuable tool for healthier, happier connections with the people in your life.