It isn’t about the number of people you’re seeing…
Unfortunately, we aren’t born with instruction manuals or have a go to book we can open, when we hit technical difficulties. For many of us, Personal Boundaries (PB) are leaned because we discover we really need them. Healthy ones can be pretty tricky to master, especially if you’ve never been taught.
There are different types of PB, but the psychological ones are what we use most in relationships. They are basically like an imaginary line, which either prevents or allows entrance, to cause us personal harm. Not many people realize there are 4 different varieties; rigid, porous, non-existent and healthy. It’s helpful to know which type you have and how to make some adjustment.
Often referred to as “having a wall up”, people with these boundaries, find relationships difficult. They won’t allow anything to flow in or out, like having a blocked filter.
People of this type, have a penetrable boundary. Others are able to push through it at will; however, boundaries are set for themselves; like how much they choose to share. Regardless of this, they allow themselves to be hijacked and can suffer the consequences of others. If you’ve ever let someone make you fell guilty, you may have a porous PB.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, to rigid boundaries, non-existent types are equally as harmful to a person. There is no filter of what comes in and what goes out. Therefore, the imaginary line is completely absent. Without a filter, they can offer too much personal information about themselves; which can lead to others taking advantage of them. Plus, they often lack the capacity to say no. This can be a dangerous combination.
Described by Psychotherapist Joyce Marter, LCPC, as the “midway between Diva and Doormat”, healthy boundaries are the key to fulfilling relationships. It’s much like a dual doorway which lets others in to take a peek at who we really are and allows us access to get to know others. The difference between this and unhealthy types, is the filter. Careful screening of what goes through the filter, is achieved.
How to adjust your PB
Luckily, PB are adaptable. The first step is recognising which type you have. Only after acknowledging this, can it be altered. Secondly, achieving a healthy PB, is relative to how far from healthy it is. For example, if you have a non-existent PB, you have some way to go. Less, if its porous or rigid.
The third step, to achieving a healthy balance, is to clearly define the boundaries you want to set. This works with all un-healthy types. If it’s too rigid, boundaries need to be relaxed. Working out what can be divulged and accepted is the key. If porous; applying the boundaries set for themselves, to those around them, is effective. These people understand boundaries, but loved ones can sneak past them.
What will be most significant with non-existent PB, will be shifting from the comfort zone to a zone which is unfamiliar. PB develop over time, therefore, change will take place slowly. Identify opportunities which cause less discomfort and set boundaries; working toward more uncomfortable situations, as time passes. Practice, time and a gradual exposure to change is the easiest, most effective way to achieve a health balance.
By Kim Chartres
Loads of parents teach their kids to think for themselves, have goals, opinions and not follow their mates, if they want to jump of a cliff. We encourage them to be proactive in making the world around them a better place. After all, we want them to be able to cope in the world without holding their hand.
Despite this being an excellent way to raise productive, responsible, thoughtful individuals; the major downfall is the determination which presents itself, as they get older. By the time they reach double digits, they have strong beliefs and values, feel comfortable voicing their opinions and question the authority of their parents. You might be thinking to yourself, “What on earth have I done?”
Don’t despair, because if they are questioning you, they are also questioning the world around them. They won’t be likely to smoke that cigarette, because their mates are doing it or go against their values and beliefs in other ways. The main thing you need to know, is how to cope with this determination, without undoing all your hard work or passing them along to a family member, in fear grounding them for life!
Firstly, congratulate yourself on making it this far and creating a determined kid. Every child on the planet at the age of around 10-12 will begin to break away from their parents. Some start earlier, some later, but during this critical age, they are developing their self identity. Therefore, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, which they aren’t even aware of. Hormones are playing havoc with their brains and their bodies.
As the supporting parent, you need to let them become the person they are envisaging and the person you have encouraged them to be. This doesn’t mean they can get away with being disrespectful or rude either. This is where boundaries will be a parents best friend. Set your boundaries and stick to them.
This can be easier said than done. If your child is especially determined, they will push every boundary you put in place for them. They want to see how far they can go, before you set the limit. They are actually pushing to find that limit, and if you don’t give it to them; be prepared for anarchy. They will run the household. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a home run by hormone consumed kids or teens!
They need to know that you are still the parent and they are still your child. This won’t be an easy time as a parent. You thought toddlers were hard work, right? Well teenagers are much like toddlers, except they know they are making your life a living hell! Don’t show them that they are wearing you down and if you have a partner, you need to work together and be a united front; unbreakable and un-dividable.
If there are any cracks in your relationship, your determined kid will find them. It won’t be something they do on purpose. At this age, they are entirely egocentric. You will need to constantly remind them that they are not the only person on the planet.
It’s not all bad though. After this time in their life, your teen will thank you for the support you have given them and the boundaries you set for them. They will know that you have their back, no matter what. Calm will then return to your home. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour, knowing you have created a very strong, capable person.
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By Kim Chartres