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Friday Inspiration - 22  May 2009
By Melissa Bult

Developing and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries  

Hello everyone,


Lately I have been recognising how important it is maintain healthy boundaries and I have found many of my clients experiencing similar challenges in this area.  So this week I decided to ask Sarah Peni to contribute an article about developing and maintaining healthy boundaries in relationships. 



Developing and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries in relationships


What are Boundaries?  Well we are probably all familiar with a fence around a property as being a boundary, and we pretty much know when and where we can’t go – if the gates are locked, or there’s a sign out saying “NO ENTRY” or “Trespassers will be prosecuted” we generally respect the boundary and wait for an invitation, arrange permission to enter, or go somewhere else.  How well, a boundary or limitation is set, defined, and controlled can also be open to major variation.  Recently on the news there was an article about some US residents who had a sign out the front of their property “Trespassers will be shot, and killed.”  A family with young kids had inadvertently trespassed onto the back of the property where the child had wandered from public property onto the Private property (not fenced) “for a Pee” in the bush – he was shot and killed age 7. 


So how do we get to understand our own Boundaries and the Boundaries of others when the signs aren’t obvious? Maintaining personal safety is an essential part of developing healthy relationships. How do we know what safe is?  What we have experienced in our family/childhood environment has a major impact on the way in which we relate as adults. 


The significant problems we face cannot be solved

at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."

— Albert Einstein


In order to develop and maintain healthy boundaries in Relationships we must firstly master the relationship we have with ourselves, we must develop a healthy sense of identity, know who we are and be able to recognise our own needs, and be capable of manifesting our own ideals.  We then must be able to communicate our needs, our likes and dislikes in healthy ways within our relationships.  So how do we develop a relationship with ourselves when we have not perhaps been raised with healthy relationships around us, and we suffer from low self-esteem or lack of confidence?  Cognitive therapy by means of Psychotherapy, Counselling, Spiritual Counselling and Energy Healing by trained professionals are great tools to assist a person to develop this primary relationship.  These techniques are highly recommended therapies for anyone wishing to improve their Relationships, and assist with the development and maintenance of personal boundaries within relationships.  Once we have a clear sense of self and our own needs we are more capable of articulating those needs and responding appropriately to the needs of others.  


Relationships are not always smooth and easy but when two people are operating in a healthy functional relationship with clear boundaries both individuals will be able to work towards resolving conflict in a safe supportive environment.  There’s an old saying “it takes two too tango”... the quality of the tango is going to be dependant on the two independent individuals ability to dance with each other, to give and to receive, to know when to follow and to know when to lead.  It is true that if you repeatedly prod a bee with your finger you’re likely to get stung! If you repeatedly stroke the bee with loving compassion you are also likely to get stung!  It can be difficult to create a healthy relationship with someone who is not willing to do any work themselves, they will continue to respond from old defensive strategies rather than engage with you in an equal partnership.  It is at times healthier to end relationships and to work on yourself so that you can maintain your own boundaries before entering into relationship.  With a co-operative partner you can together work at changing the dynamic of the relationship so that it can become healthy and respectful of each individual and each others boundaries.


Warnings signs for unhealthy boundaries may include:  a lack of a sense of identity, a sense of responsibility for others feelings, guilt within the relationship, settling for second best, living in fantasy for the day the relationship will be better meanwhile living with abuse, manipulation, controlling behaviour, imbalance of power in the relationship, continued rescuing or neediness in the relationship.


Some techniques for developing healthy boundaries: Work out what your limits are, and set reasonable non-negotiable limits.  Say Yes when you mean ‘yes’ and No when you mean ‘no’.  Be flexible when appropriate, you don’t always have to get you’re way!  Disconnect and walk away – take time out to think and talk later.  (Let your partner know what you are doing).  Use “I” language and address the situation later, after having recognised your own trigger and what your needs are for effective communication. Use of eye contact and touch where appropriate.  Do speak up, and take risks, go with the flow, be positive and remember to have fun.


“What greater gift can we give our future but to create healthy relationships with ourselves and amongst ourselves, as we discover and honour the individual uniqueness of our loved-ones, our partners, our children and our families we discover the love and unity that has no boundaries.”  Blessed Be. 


Written by Sarah Peni -Natural Healing Practitioner, BHSc, Reg ND, Reg MHD, DMLS, NHSc ph 8118936


Have a fantastic week.  Blessings, love and light to you all.


Melissa x


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