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BOUNDARY SETTING Stop for a moment and take a look at how you typically respond to conflict? If you tend to experience either angry rebellion or sad suffering compliance, you probably haven't had much practice setting boundaries. Boundary setting is not typically a part of a child's education. Rather children are codependently conditioned not to set boundaries as a way to avoid the negative reactions of others. The ability to set boundaries -- to take care of yourself -- begins with the belief that your "self" is worth caring for. If you've learned that taking care of yourself results in conflict, rejection, or abandonment, it's likely that you will be avoidant rather than take the risk to take care of yourself. It’s time to consider the self-compassion and self-care of setting boundaries POSITIVE FEATURES OF BOUNDARY SETTING Boundaries help you become a safe person. People know where they stand with you. Boundaries are the way we take care of ourselves. We have both a right and a duty to protect and defend ourselves. Generous open-hearted people set boundaries. If you don't set boundaries, you are giving yourself away. With boundaries you only give what you want which means you can afford to be more generous and openhearted to more people over a longer period of time. Boundaries encourage others to grow. Because it gives others the opportunity to become conscious of their behavior and the effects their behavior has on other people. Boundaries allow you to get more of what you want, and less of what you don't. Boundaries not only protect you from unwanted behavior, but they also protect and encourage the behavior that you want. Boundaries are effective. Setting boundaries keeps you in control of your time, energy and efforts which makes you feel better about yourself. This leads to your being more effective. Boundaries encourage consistency. In order for boundary setting to work for you, you must develop a commitment to uphold what is right and true for you. You must act consistently in upholding your boundaries. If this is not familiar behavior it will feel awkward and unnatural at first, but anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first. People may not like it at

first. That's natural as they are used to getting their own way with you. Keep it up. With practice you will get more skillful and graceful. EXAMPLES OF PERSONAL BOUNDARIES People May Not. . . . Criticize Me. Humiliate Me. Invade My Personal Space or Belongings. Lie to Me. Make Derogatory Comments About My (appearance, lifestyle, choice of friends, etc.) Take Advantage of Me. Take Their Anger or Frustrations Out on Me. If we don't respect ourselves, how can we expect to get respect from others? BENEFITS OF BOUNDARY SETTING Contribution to our own and others' wellbeing. Freedom from the fear and pain of ineffective strategies to get our needs met. Increased self-esteem and self-respect. More respect from others. Experience of more honest, clear, and direct communication. EXAMPLES OF BOUNDARY SETTING Anger - "You may not continue to yell at me. if you do, I will leave the room and end this meeting." Take Your Own Time - "I have a policy of not making snap decisions. I need time to think and reflect on what I want to do. If you need an immediate

answer, it will be “No!" If you are willing to wait for me to think about this decision, there may be another answer.” Criticism - "It's not okay with me for you to make critical comments about my (weight, age, race, gender, diet, sexual preference, relationship choices, religion, political affiliation, etc.). Please stop. If you don’t, I won't be able to continue this conversation." Expectations of Helping - "Although this is an important issue to me and I appreciate you asking for my help, in order to take care of myself (and/or my family), I must decline your request for my help at this time.” Money - "I won't be lending you anymore money. I care about you and believe that you can empower yourself by starting to take responsibility for yourself." (NOTE: In this regard, my personal boundary rule is that I never “loan” money to anyone. I do, on the other hand, find joy in “gifting” people which avoids all the entanglements of expectations of repayment.) CONSEQUENCES IF YOUR BOUNDARIES ARE NOT RESPECTED Express your boundaries clearly and non-emotionally. Gently use the “broken record” technique, if necessary. Simply and clearly outline the actions you are willing to take if boundaries are not respected. Only if you determine it is safe, you may consider negotiation on YOUR terms. EXAMPLES OF BOUNDARIES AND CONSEQUENCES "If you break plans with me by not showing up or calling me, I will confront your behaviors and let you know how I feel." "If you repeat this behavior, I will consider it to mean that you do not value my friendship and I will have no further contact with you for (a period of time of your choosing)." "If you continue (offensive behavior) I will leave the (room, house, car, store, etc.) or ask you to leave." "If you continue to repeat the behavior, I will consider all of my options including leaving the relationship."

"If you continue to ignore my solutions or suggestions, I will assume that you are not interested in receiving help from me and I will stop offering advice or trying to help you solve your problems." FURTHER GUIDELINES FOR SETTING A BOUNDARY Back up boundary setting with clear, consistent, purposeful action. Be direct, firm and gracious. Boundaries can be set with strong lovingkindness! Don't debate, defend or over-explain. Keep it simple, direct, and clear. State your boundary and then focus on your breath. Stay present with the moment. Support. It may be helpful to have a support person with you the first few times you set difficult boundaries. Stay Strong, Don't Give In. Review the benefits of boundary setting. It is not enough to set boundaries; it is necessary to be willing to do whatever it takes to enforce them. BOUNDARIES ARE NOT RIGID WALLS OR REJECTION. They are permeable barriers or gateways. YOU are the Gatekeeper of your boundaries. You let in what you want in and let out what you want out. This is a central feature of self-compassion and honoring our True Nature.