What Makes A Healthy Relationship
We all have different types of relationships with the many people in our lives. Whether they are with friends, family, significant others, partners, acquaintances or anyone else, it is important to know how to have and keep those relationships HEALTHY. Healthy relationships increase our self-esteem, improve mental and emotional health, and help us have fuller lives.
We should each strive individually to find out the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. There are reliable tools available that can be used to create and maintain healthy relationships, many of which have not been taught in our culture. I can help you learn to have healthy, happy relationships.
- To have your boundaries respected.
- To receive emotional support.
- To live free from angry outbursts and rage.
- To be heard and responded to with respect and acceptance.
- To have your own view, even if your partner has a different view.
- To be called by no name that devalues you.
- To have your feelings and experiences acknowledged as real.
- To receive a sincere apology for any comments you may find offensive.
- To live free from criticism and judgment.
- To receive clear and honest communication.
- To be respectfully asked rather than ordered.
- To live free from accusation and blame.
- To have your beliefs and your interests spoken of with respect.
- To receive encouragement.
- To live free from emotional and physical threats.
Take Responsibility For Yourself
Healthy boundaries create healthy relationships. Unhealthy boundaries create dysfunctional ones. By establishing clear boundaries, we define ourselves in relation to others. To do this, however, we must be able to identify and respect our needs, feelings, opinions, and rights. Otherwise our efforts would be like putting a fence around a garden without knowing the property lines. Boundaries are imaginary lines that help you protect yourself both physically and emotionally. They keep other’s actions and behaviours from hurting, distracting, annoying, or imposing on you. Boundaries are limits you set on how others can treat you or behave around you. People treat you as you allow them to; however, you can actually teach others how to treat you based on how strong or weak your boundaries are. Therefore, learning how to establish them must be an important goal in our personal growth.
Those of us raised in dysfunctional families have probably had little experience with healthy boundaries. Therefore, learning how to establish them must be an important goal in our personal growth. In order to achieve this, however, we must overcome low self-esteem and passivity; learn to identify and respect our rights and needs; and become skilled at assertively taking care of ourselves in relationships. This process allows our true selves to emerge, and healthy boundaries become the fences that keep us safe – something we may never have experienced in childhood.
Boundaries can be physical or emotional. Physical boundaries define who can touch us, how someone can touch us, and how physically close another may approach us. Emotional boundaries define where our feelings end and another’s begins. For example, do we take responsibility for our feelings and needs, and allow others to do the same? Or do we feel overly responsible for the feelings and needs of others and neglect our own? Are we able to say “no”? Can we ask for what we need? Do we compulsive people please? Do we become upset simply because others are upset around us? Do we mimic the opinions of whomever we are around? The answers to these questions help define the “property lines” of our emotional boundaries.
Together, our physical and emotional boundaries define how we interact with others, and how we allow others to interact with us. Without boundaries, others could touch us in any way they wanted, do whatever they wished with our possessions, and treat us in any way they desired. In addition, we would believe everyone else’s bad behaviours are our fault, take on everyone else’s problems as our own, and feel like we have no right to any rights. In short, our lives would chaotic and out of our control.
Creating boundaries for your business and home will help you honour yourself more. It’s perfectly okay to request respect from others and to honour yourself. Someone’s tone of voice, negativity, criticism, derogatory language, or other form of disrespect, may prompt you to create a boundary in order to protect yourself and your goals from disruptive influences.
Give yourself permission to begin honouring yourself and others in new ways. Boundaries are an important way for you to respect the needs of others, as well as your own. Ironically, when you become aware of your own boundaries (and begin to respect them) you’ll naturally begin to regard the boundaries of others, as well. Respecting other people’s boundaries helps make you a more attractive person to be around.
Those with healthy boundaries are firm but flexible. They give support and accept it. They respect their feelings, needs, opinions, and rights, and those of others, but are clear about their separateness. They are responsible for their own happiness and allow others to be responsible for their happiness. They are assertive and respectful of the rights of others to be assertive. They are able to negotiate and compromise, have empathy for others, are able to make mistakes without damaging their self-esteem, and have an internal sense of personal identity. They respect diversity. Those with healthy boundaries are comfortable with themselves, and make others comfortable around them. They live in houses with fences and gates that allow access only to those who respect their boundaries.
Setting strong boundaries will help you stand up for yourself, stop agreeing to do things you really don’t want to do, and start feeling less guilty about putting your own needs first. It’s a part of the process of defining yourself and what is acceptable to you. When you don’t have boundaries set other people will step over the line without even realising where it is.
Boundary setting is not about getting other people to change (even though at first, it may seem that way). It’s really about deciding what you will and won’t tolerate any longer in your life, and then communicating this firmly and consistently whenever you need to. Boundaries are essential to becoming a healthy adult and balancing your work and personal life effectively. They demonstrate your commitment to self-respect.
The first step in establishing boundaries is self-awareness; you’ll need to identify where you need more space, self-respect, energy, and/or personal power. Begin this process by recognising when you feel angry, frustrated, violated, or resentful. In these cases, you’ve often had a boundary “crossed”. By becoming aware of situations that require you to have stronger limits, you can begin creating and communicating your new boundaries to others.
Learning to set healthy boundaries can feel uncomfortable, even scary, because it may go against the grain of the survival skills we learned in childhood – particularly if our caretakers were emotionally, physically or sexually abusive. For example, we may have learned to repress our anger or other painful emotions because we would have been attacked and blamed for expressing the very pain the abuse had caused. Thus, attempting to set healthy boundaries as an adult may initially be accompanied by anxiety, but we must learn to work through these conditioned fears, or we will never have healthy relationships. But this process of growth takes time, and our motto should always be, “Progress not perfection.”
It’s important to note that in establishing boundaries:
- Your personal needs are valid. It is not necessary for you to defend, debate or over-explain your request.
- Tell people immediately when they are doing something that violates one of your boundaries.
- Simply tell them what they are doing that makes you feel angry, frustrated, violated, resentful, or uncomfortable. Communicate gracefully and honestly.
- Make a direct request that they stop the behaviours that offend or bother you. Be very specific about what you want.
- Follow-up to let them know how they are doing at honouring your request.
- Thank them for making the change.