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Boundaries and Relationships

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You have probably heard the phrase “healthy boundaries” before. But what are boundaries? Simply put, boundaries are an invisible set of terms that exist between you and another person or circumstance. Good boundaries generally lead to rewarding and stable relationships or outcomes. On the flip side, poor boundaries tend to cause pain and relationship dissatisfaction. Often times the first sign of boundary issues are feelings of resentment.  We may feel taken advantage of or under appreciated. Ultimately it is up to us to advocate for our needs if we want our relationships to get better.

Once we understand the influence of boundaries on relationships, we are officially in the driver’s seat.   Take this simple equation for instance: Them + Me = Relationship.   In this equation, even if the other person’s boundaries never change, doing something different on my end will result in a new (and improved) relationship dynamic.

In therapy, boundary work consists of learning and applying assertive behavior. Communicating clearly and respectfully gives us the best chance of getting our needs met. Along the way, negative voices in our head may attempt to hijack our efforts.  Responding to these thoughts with skills from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) allow us to examine the validity of these narratives and replace distorted thoughts with new ones.

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