You may have read our last blog regarding identifying if you are in an unhealthy relationship. If not, it may just be what you need to hear today.
In following up with that, my goal is to help you begin to navigate developing a healthy relationship with yourself and within your relationships.
We will briefly discuss the importance of caring for yourself, assertive communication, and setting healthy boundaries.
When we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships for even a short period of time, whether they be romantic, friendships, work relationships, parenting relationships, or family of origin relationships, we may have developed a lack of trust within ourselves, invalidation of our own needs and feelings of worthlessness.
We may have been putting others first for so long, that putting ourselves first feels not only foreign but guilt-stricken.
It is normal to feel this way at first, but the more you start to put your needs and values first, the less you will feel “odd or guilty,” as some may express.
Some ways in which we can begin to formulate better relationships with ourselves are of the following:
Know examples of healthy boundaries:
Accepting responsibility for your emotions and behaviors
Accepting and respecting the ways in which you and another are different
Being true to yourself; speaking your truth
Achieving pleasure without the use of substances
Being open and asking for what you want clearly
Accepting change and endings
Sharing appropriately (not under- or oversharing)
Willingness to hear and accept ‘No,’ etc.
Re-identify who you are:
We often feel that we “lose ourselves,” in unhealthy relationships. Begin to explore your values and beliefs, likes and dislikes again. Journaling is a great tool to use to identify what is important to you, who/what you believe in, what you like/dislike, identify your emotions, identify your needs when you feel those emotions, and much more.
Please note some spiritual values may include putting your higher power first; identify if this is helpful for you or not at this time. Note this may change over time as well.
Begin to give yourself what you need:
In unhealthy relationships, we may have neglected our needs to appease the needs of others. Now is the time to take what you have learned by journaling your emotions and needs and apply it.
Do you need to check out from social media today,
Take a walk,
Take a bubble bath,
Drink cold water,
Say ‘no’ to that activity or task you were just asked to do,
Give yourself permission to cry,
Give yourself a break from your to-do list,
Rest your body, etc.
As long as you are providing yourself a healthy outlet for supporting yourself, go ahead and give yourself what you need!
Identify your expectations and tolerances:
This is key in formulating boundaries with ourselves and others. Do we need to set expectations for ourselves and others that have not existed in many years, or do we need to limit expectations of ourselves and others to work through perfectionism? What are we willing to tolerate from ourselves and from others, and what is a deal-breaker for us in a relationship?
Utilize a calendar to set an appointment with yourself daily for at least 15-30 minutes of self-care or reflection. Follow through on this appointment with yourself to give yourself what you need in that moment. Each time you follow through, you are showing up for yourself. Therefore, beginning to trust yourself & your decisions, more and more each day.
Once you begin to start setting boundaries with yourself, you will begin to see that others will pick up on this.
Sometimes, this means we may lose friendships or contact with someone who needs an unhealthy relationship to meet their needs. This may also mean that your loved ones will be upset or angry with you for putting yourself first, trying to manipulate that situation by blaming you for the reason they cannot get what they want from you anymore.
Stay strong! This is the most difficult part for many folks in learning to have boundaries again, and often, where the guilt strikes the most.
Guilt is a common feeling that occurs when we have had a pattern of putting others before ourselves, or others have put themselves before us (commonly in childhood), by invalidating our emotions, needs, and/or lacking healthy boundaries themselves. Again, the more you practice putting your needs first, the less the guilt will show up.
Once you have begun to identify who you are as a person, in addition to setting and keeping boundaries with yourself, you can do this with others.
Sometimes, this occurs simultaneously, depending on your situation. Some ways to begin to set boundaries with others include the following:
Communication: Open your conversations in a healthy manner. Choose times that each party is in a neutral state (for example, not first thing in the morning for someone who is not a morning person, or not upon walking through the door after a long day of work). Utilize statements such as “I really like it when you…,” “I am not comfortable when you…,” the assertive: “I feel XYZ… when you do XYZ… because XYZ…,” or “are you in a place where you can hear what I am feeling right now?”
Sharing needs: Communicate your needs regarding your expectations of the relationship. “I will not enable you to (insert unhealthy behavior here).”
“I expect that we will both have open communication regarding finances,
family issues, and our needs.” “I expect to need alone time to process my emotions.” “I expect that we will not gossip about one another.” “I am not open to sexual relations with others while we are in a committed relationship.”
Establish your boundaries: Identify what you are willing to tolerate and share this. A quick example may be, “I will not tolerate lying in this relationship.” However, this may not just include emotional or behavioral tolerances, but financial, family or friendship influences in the relationship, financial, intellectual, sexual, physical, etc. You may identify that you are okay with following each other on social media, but not sharing passwords; that you are comfortable with kissing, but not engaging in sex; that you are not comfortable with paying for XYZ, etc.
Change: Notice and remember that both you and the other party’s boundaries and needs may change over time. This does not necessarily mean that there is “anything wrong,” with you, the other person, or the relationship itself, but it does mean that we need to converse at some point. For example, boundaries or need may change if someone struggles with depression symptoms at times, or when someone is going through grief/loss, or a transition period in life. Having open communication regarding this when you notice it in others, or when you notice it in yourself, is helpful.
There are many ways in which we can set boundaries with ourselves and others. These are just a few ways in which we may want to start.
For a more in-depth discussion of today’s topic, reach out to one of us today to address your therapeutic needs.
We can set you up with a free 15-minute consultation. Reach us at email@example.com or 860.266.6098.