This is the fourth and final installment of the 2019 Mindful Communication Series. The Bravery of Setting Boundaries! I know that I have challenged you all with some pretty tough topics in this series. I’ve asked you to dig deep and find the strength to apologize and to forgive when necessary.
How are you doing with finding the Power of Apology? Were you able to think of anyone to whom you need to apologize? If so, did you find it it in yourself to make sincere amends?
What about the other side of the coin? Forgiveness ? Did anyone come to mind towards whom you are harboring resentment? Were you able to find the Freedom in Forgiveness you can have through letting go of that resentment and forgiving them?
If you experienced either the Power of Apology and/ or the Freedom in Forgiveness I hope that you will share it with us in the comments! It will help encourage others to do the same.
If you did not, but are trying to, it’s okay. Both apology and forgiveness are processes. Keep trying. Keep digging deep and keep meditating on it. Reach out in the comments or the Empowered Through Peace Facebook group for the support and encouragement of others!
At the end of the Freedom in Forgiveness blog I cautioned that it is very important that forgiveness and boundaries go hand-in-hand. In this blog I am going to dive deeper into that topic.
As I mentioned in the Forgiveness blog, we don’t want to take forgiveness so far that it ends-up with our becoming doormats. We don’t want the people that have hurt us to think that they can do it again just because we forgave them.
Honestly, we don’t want anyone to treat us like a doormat!
This is where Bravery of Setting Boundaries comes in! Boundaries protect us. They protect us from both physical and emotional harm. That is why they are such a fundamental part of Mindful Communication.
I teach four elements of Mindful Communication when it comes to boundaries:
- Use a calm, confident tone.
- Communicate why you are setting the boundary.
- Be firm.
- Be willing to be flexible if it is appropriate.
USING A CALM CONFIDENT TONE
Calm, confidence is the key element in setting boundaries. If you communicate with a calm, yet confident tone the person with whom you are setting boundaries is more likely to respect your boundaries.
This is where the bravery part comes in. It is often intimidating to set boundaries because the person with whom we need to set them is causing us discomfort in the first place. This is when we need to remember that boundaries are there to protect us! If we tell someone who causes us hurt feelings to please respect our boundaries and not say certain things we are protecting ourselves from further verbal barbs from that person.
BE BRAVE! Be willing to protect yourself!
If you use a calm, but confident tone the person is less likely to continue to say the things that you are trying to protect yourself from. And, the more you repeat your boundaries with the calm, confident tone, the more they will respect your boundaries.
COMMUNICATE YOUR WHY
People are more likely to respect boundaries when they are given an explanation as to why the boundaries are being set. For example, if a couple has communication boundaries they have set, perhaps with the help of a counselor, they know that the boundaries are there to help them grow as a couple and to strengthen their relationship.
Likewise, communication boundaries can be set with friends with a simple explanation of why. Have you ever had a friend who complains so much that you get to point that you don’t really want to be around them anymore? This is a situation in which you can set a boundary with a simple of explanation of, “I definitely want to be here for you when you need support, but I think it would be good for both of us if we talked about things that make us happy in addition to things that are difficult in our lives.”
I know it can be a little scary to say things like this because you don’t want to hurt your friend’s feelings. But, she is going to be much more hurt if you pull away or end-up not wanting to spend time with her at all. Be brave for the sake of both you and your friend!
BE FIRM, BUT FLEXIBLE
It is important to recognize the difference between a boundary and a wall. A wall is when you cut-off communication altogether. Sometimes walls are necessary, but I strongly urge you not to set-up a wall before you try setting boundaries.
The one exception to this is when you are in imminent threat of physical harm or when verbal abuse is so egregious that it can not, and should not, be tolerated. If either of these are the case, then a wall cutting off all contact is needed.
Boundaries are for relationships that we want to continue. Boundaries are helpful, protective, mechanisms which allow relationships to flourish. I have not only lost friends myself from putting up walls, but I have seen many others lose friends when they do this as well.
Being firm, but flexible allows for some give-and-take in the communication of a relationship. One example of this is when a wife may tell her husband that she does not like the way he teases her in order to get a laugh. With flexibility, she may find that it’s really when he teases her in a cutting manner, or in front of others, that she is truly hurt. But, if he just lightly joshes her in private, she is okay with it.
She can be firm about the type of teasing he is doing. She can be firm about who hears the teasing. But, she can be flexible by allowing herself to laugh along when the teasing is light and harmless.
Calm, but confident! Firm, but flexible! You can do it! And don’t forget to explain your “why” to the one with whom you are setting boundaries.
I hope that you will have lots of success bringing Mindful Communication into your relationships!
Reach out through comments, email or social media if you would like further guidance in using Mindful Communication!
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