Creating Healthy Boundaries

Learning where we end and others begin takes practice.  Creating healthy boundaries and setting our limits with others takes courage. 

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Creating healthy boundaries as taught at our wellness healing centre programs are our sense of ourselves, and our perception of how we are different from others physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.  Boundaries exist for our protection.  Our boundaries are not fixed; they change with what we feel and the people we are with.

When our boundaries are intact, we know that we have separate feelings, thoughts, and realities.  Our boundaries allow us to know who we are in relation to others around us.  We need to become good at creating healthy boundaries to get close to others, since otherwise we would be overwhelmed.

Creating healthy boundaries at our wellness and healing centre ensure’s us that our behaviour is appropriate and keep us from offending others.  When we have healthy boundaries, we also know when we are being abused.  A person without boundaries will not know when someone is physically, emotionally, or intellectually violating them.

Creating Healthy Boundaries
Henry Clouds book on boundaries

This phenomenon is common to co-dependents in general, and adult children of alcoholics in particular, which may account for why so many tend to remain in abusive situations. Creating healthy boundaries is a core issue for co-dependents in recovery and nowhere is this more dramatically illustrated than in adult children of alcoholics.  They need to understand and develop boundaries in order to fully recover and claim their identities. For the first eighteen months of life, children have no clear idea of who they are and depend entirely on their mother and father for basic needs.  During the “terrible twos” a child begins to push away from parents, learn cause and effect thinking, and develops the important skill of saying, “No, I won’t!” and “You can’t make me!”  In this important stage of development, children test others around them so they can begin to answer What is and is not under my control?  Will others still care for me if I think for myself?  Where do I stop and you begin?  These questions regarding creating healthy boundaries must be answered for children to clarify their boundaries.

Creating Healthy Boundaries

Creating healthy boundaries emotionally

Emotional boundaries are formed early in our life and are greatly influenced by the nature of the bond with our parents.  Emotional boundaries protect us like an internal shield, helping us determine which emotions are ours, and letting us deflect emotions that are not ours.  When we have healthy emotional boundaries, we can honestly determine our feelings about any situation, person, place, or thing.  If we take responsibility for expressing our emotions and notice the impact of our behaviour on others, we have created healthy emotional boundaries.

Typically, when parents are irresponsible with their feelings, their children will become irresponsible with theirs.  If a father repeatedly rages uncontrollably at his child, that child will inherit feelings of rage and shame.  The only way a child avoids this is to have an emotional boundary.  Unfortunately, young children do not immediately possess boundaries.  If the father were trying to explain to the child that his rage was his own and had nothing to do with the child’s behaviour, perhaps this boy or girl would develop an emotional boundary.

Many parents, however, never explain this to their children or deny that it is necessary.  This lets the rage move from father to child and to future generations.  The child in this family will take on Dad’s rage and feel overwhelmed.  Then the child may carry this rage into adulthood and dump this rage on his or her children and intimate partners.

Creating healthy boundaries physically

We get to know our physical comfort zones through our physical boundaries.  When we start creating healthy boundaries physically, we can determine how close others should come to us.  It also means we can determine how and when we want to be touched, and who we will allow to touch us.  It means we give that right to others.

Creating healthy boundaries physically is most often violated by physical violence, incest, or neglect.  Children who are touched inappropriately by parents must deny their discomfort and repulsion in order to survive in the family.  If a father makes sexual advances toward his daughter, she’ll probably learn to ignore the sensation of her skin crawling, her stomach tying in knots, and having to hold her breath in order not to feel.  It is precisely the “turning off” or ignoring of these responses that will make her vulnerable to problems in the future.  She may even abuse her own children.

Our bodies and emotions tell us when someone is violating our space.  But many children with alcoholic parents learn to distrust their senses and their emotions.  They often ignore bizarre events and treat crises as if they were normal. Creating healthy boundaries involves learning where we end and others begin takes practice.  Setting our limits with others takes courage.  The excitement that comes with establishing our boundaries is well worth the effort.  In the end, we have a clearer identity and a stronger sense of dignity.

Depression and wellness treatment centre

Do not expect others to automatically appreciate the effort it takes to establish clear boundaries.  On the contrary, those close to us may become upset that we’re forming a separate identity.  Be assured, however, that as our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual realities become clear and strong, relationships will become healthier and more satisfying. In the end, it is up to us to form our boundaries with others.  No one can do this for us.  Creating healthy boundaries that are healthy and repairing damaged boundaries through a wellness program may require the guidance of a mentor, sponsor, or a therapist, but the responsibility for our healing lies with us. This is your time in recovery. Use it wisely and make changes a constant reality in your life.

For more help with Creating healthy boundaries contact our healing centre and start one of our wellness programs. They are designed to meet clients where they are at and push them through issues that have been perhaps lifelong. Call 0824424779 or email info@sanctuaryplett.co.za

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