Have you noticed the following relationship warning signs? You’re both angry. You communicate by fighting. And you both feel disrespected. If so, don’t lose hope! You can transform the relationship into one that is meaningful, successful, and happy. It all has to do with boundaries.
The Importance of Boundaries
Boundaries are absolutely necessary to keep us safe, happy, and maintaining our mental well-being. This goes for people with or without bipolar. Boundaries is a system of proverbial “lines” we don’t cross to keep ourselves out of trouble and to keep ourselves acting respectful instead of disrespectful. And within boundaries, we can be safe to be ourselves and be in our happiness. There is a hard boundary against creating hurt: no hurtful words, actions, or loss of control, to anyone, including ourselves. This takes mastery. Even if we are dealing with mania or depression, it is not okay for our actions to cause another emotional harm, and we have to adhere to our boundaries for our own self-worth, positive sense of self, and our happiness, too. Just know when we cross boundaries is where the problems are; and if you want to start solving problems in your life, start by cultivating your own system of boundaries to which you adhere to keep yourself steering clear of problems created by your own actions. To accomplish this does take behavior modification. It takes knowing how to stop yourself, recognizing where your actions are wrong, and even mastery of self to maintain ways that serve you and stop the behaviors that cross boundaries and don’t.
Boundaries is a term we hear today, but it wasn’t in the conversation 20, 30, 40 years ago, when we were kids. Today we are learning the necessity to implement boundaries and maintain our awareness of not only our needs and boundaries but, just as important, to respect others’ needs and boundaries, too. Boundaries is not about only about us, it’s about the self within the dynamics of healthy relationships. Relationships without boundaries end up in enmeshment. With enmeshment, relationships become unhealthy and can even turn toxic, sometimes ending up in separation or divorce.
It is important to recognize where we cross boundaries and address that first. Why? Because when we cross boundaries, it creates problems for ourselves and our own unhappiness. A telltale sign of crossing boundaries is when people get mad at us. So it is helpful to start to recognize that where there is anger, there is a fire that needs to put out. What are we doing to ignite the fire of anger in someone else? Trust me, it’s not worth it and will always come back to bite us (when we are the target of their anger). Crossing boundaries is also indicated by fighting. Fighting exists when boundaries are crossed and now the fight is about maintaining our boundaries. A person should never have to fight to maintain their boundaries, and people need to learn to respect each other’s boundaries, choices they make for themselves, their own assertions, their opinions, and their way. This is why it is just as necessary to curb our aggressive behavior. And aggression, too, is a telltale sign of not respecting boundaries. Assertive behavior should replace aggressive behavior, wherever aggression shows up in our experience.
A fundamental premise in boundaries is that we all have the right to be ourselves, make decisions for ourselves, maintain our own opinions, have the important say in our lives, AND to be safe from emotional abuse, manipulation, control, and outside harm. It crosses boundaries when anyone tries to usurp our personal power and tries to be the deciding influence with decisions that are ours to make. There is a fine line when it comes to family, and that’s why boundaries need to be cultivated within the family unit for a lifelong dynamic that is healthy and successful. Respecting boundaries maintains respect, individual birth rights, and personal power. We all need our own boundaries to operate our lives. Disrespecting boundaries comes from control, invalidation, manipulation, and maintaining power that is not yours to maintain. So, boundaries is how we all get on the same page of how we are going to operate in a healthy dynamic, and I can’t stress this enough: Boundaries are absolutely necessary for healthy relationships of happiness, love, acceptance, trust, and success.
Do the Work
All of us need to do the work, take the time, invest in our growth, and learn through the process of developing a new system of behaviors or we will not get the results or benefits of having solid boundaries in place. Boundaries also act as great driving guides for social skills, handling difficult situations, and creating resolutions. This series is all about achieving results by making positive change. The results are in the doing, in the growth, in the work, in the process of change.
Debbie Jacobs is an advocate, writer, and healing specialist living in Alexandria, Virginia. She lived most of her adult life with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, and then was diagnosed with bipolar. She speaks out on how self-improvement is life improvement and believes we all can live happy lives by making positive changes to ourselves. Her influences are Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Les Brown, and Tony Robbins. She does positivity life coaching and is in the process of writing her first book on her healing process of accomplishing positive thinking, positive effective coping skills, and healthy self-esteem—what she calls “freedom and happiness.” She shares her work to motivate, inspire, and help others make positive changes to themselves for their freedom and happiness, too.
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