When we make a decision to set boundaries, concise communication is quite important.
As a sufferer of rapid cycling bipolar disorder, I have had my own set of issues marking those lines I cannot allow to be crossed in my life.
We must remain steadfast in our resolve when those boundaries are crossed. If they’re crossed and we continue to allow the transgression to continue, our words which once held so much power, are simply empty of consequences. We are allowing others to have an authority over us that they do not deserve. Not every soul we meet should get the privilege of being allowed into our lives on a deeper level.
So, without further ado, here’s how to set boundaries in any relationship.
Step 1. Speak for yourself and clearly define what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable to you.
As the other party likely lacks psychic powers, be clear. My sarcasm is dictating to me to be so clear a three year old could follow the instructions.
Bottom line? There should be no grey areas for other parties to exploit.
Step 2. When (and it is when, not if…) a line is crossed, it’s imperative to talk about what ails you.
Discuss your feelings. Try to avoid making accusatory remarks because you’re describing your feelings, not trying to listen to their possibly defensive stance.
The end game ought to be helping this other person be more empathetic, and getting a very real grasp on how crossing boundaries makes you feel.
Step 3. Set your expectations.
Harking back to my call center days, we had call flow charts in which we had set standards to communicate with customers. My favorite was this one.
When you lay down in a clear way what you expect, the other party does not have a handy dandy excuse to use because they’ve been made aware. Tell them what you want, tell them what you need from them.
Step 4. Say it loudly for the cheap seats in the back!
Educate others of the consequences of pushing the boundaries. Boundaries are not punishments and should never be used as an ultimatum or threat. If you find yourself wanting to use them in that manner, check yourself. Boundaries are all about self love and self respect.
If someone chooses to ignore what you’ve said and chooses to engage in behaviors that have already been set up as unacceptable by you, they’ve made their choice. Ignorance is not an excuse.
Step 5. We can draw the lines in the sand, but what happens when someone crosses them?
This is the tricky part.
You acknowledge the choice they have made and you stay firm in your decision making process. Yes, it’s hard and depending on the person, we wanna forgive them. But no one will ever love you like you! Respect yourself and trust yourself.
Oh, and gaslighting is not cool.
Gaslighting is an attempt by a person to try and manipulate another into questioning their own decisions and even sanity… essentially making us think, “Did I say that? Did I do that?” It’s about power and that’s where trusting yourself and your own mind come into play.
You might be asking why should I set boundaries; what’s the point?
Sure, physical boundaries seem fairly logical and obvious. However, emotional boundaries are so important in protecting ourselves.
So often with bipolar disorder, our decisions are invalidated because we’re depressed or manic. When we make a sound decision and someone is telling us how we think and feel, it’s not okay. Just because we have this illness does not mean our feelings, thoughts, and opinions are any less valid than any other person.
Setting limits allows for us to take control of our lives when they are so often uncontrollable. It allows us to live and love as healthily as possible.
Boundaries are powerful in achieving peace of mind.
Take care of yourselves.