Boundaries to Better Mental Health
It is human nature to want to change other people. Clients frequently come in seeking advice about how to get another person to change. They either complain that their loved one’s behavior has changed for the worse or that they had hoped their behavior WOULD change and it has not. The naïve part of them believed that they could get them to change. If you are faced with this dilemma you have two choices—either you need to accept them exactly as they are, or YOU do the changing yourself.
Reinhold Niebuhr says
it best in The Serenity Prayer:
This saying is a guideline for improving the quality of your relationships with others. Stated simply, we can’t change others, we can only change ourselves. The easiest way to do that is to work on our own personal sense of boundaries.
Boundaries are important. They help you define who you are by setting limits and in helping you know what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable. You may not be able to control the behavior, but you can control how you handle a situation. It empowers you to teach others what you will tolerate or accept in their behavior. Invariably, when I help people to establish better boundaries they are less affected by others. They handle situations better and feel a greater sense of control.
People come into the
office with common problems that require a shift in their boundaries:
As you can see, the consequences don’t mean that you get the outcome that you want, it just means that you have set guidelines for yourself to be respected.
When people get good at setting healthy boundaries they begin to see that others respond to them with a new sense of respect. Inevitably, when you change your behavior it does change the situation. Healthy boundaries keep you from doing too much or from being mistreated.
What boundaries need
adjusting in your life? Do you have a particular situation that causes
you great discomfort? Make a list of healthy versus unhealthy behaviors
that you need to work on. The quality of your life depends on it!