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  • Writer's pictureDr. B

What is a boundary and how do I get one?

We therapists use a lot of jargon and psychobabble. Inevitably, if you have worked with a therapist before, you get used to our little catchphrases and ways of speech that, admittedly, we often come up with spur of the moment by cobbling together random thoughts and things we have learned and since forgotten. Ok, maybe that's just me...There are also some statements that are tried and true, like "sit with the pain," "how does that make you FEEEELLL?", "would you say that to a friend?". But either way, I was truly impressed with myself the other day when I messaged a client to congratulate them on setting a boundary and even went two steps beyond that and defined such boundary! Basically, I said that, **ahem** being able to set limits on how/when you spend your mental and physical energy is definitely a boundary! I don't know where I got that from, friends, but I think it makes sense, no?

Of course, setting boundaries will have consequences, dependant upon how others respond to those boundaries. Oftentimes, people will want to maintain the current status quo in relationships, so they may not react super excitedly to your boundary setting.

Here's a way that I often explain boundary setting and reactions to it: let's imagine that you and X are standing near each other with a rubberband around you both (almost like sharing a hula millennials know what hula hoops are? Serious question...). Setting a boundary may mean that you start to pull away, inevitably stretching that rubber band. X will either start to move with you or against you, which could mean the rubber band stretching and breaking. So, yes, setting a boundary may mean a connection breaks. Maybe it also means that you find ways to secure that rubber band...but, I haven't yet gotten to creating any metaphors and/or analogies that explain that process. Stay tuned for that.

Despite sometimes being a difficult process, setting boundaries can lead to a healthier you and healthier interpersonal relationships. It may involve saying no to others and saying yes to yourself; a concept with which many of us struggle. You may also have to adjust your boundaries accordingly; and all of this takes practice!

How are you with setting boundaries? Do you have one or many? How has it been setting those and what benefits have you experienced? Let me know! - Dr.B

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