Emotional Intelligence: The Need to Set Boundaries

ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

Emotional Intelligence: The Need to Set Boundaries

Knight, Armor, Iron, Chevalier, Metal

Setting healthy boundaries is the fourth emotional dependency need.  Along with the three other emotional dependency needs (emotional intimacy; nurturing; and unconditional love & acceptance), it’s a need that ideally should have been met in childhood by our caregivers.  Setting boundaries is a crucial life skill.  But, how many of us really know how to do it?  Let’s look at what boundaries are and why they are important.

A boundary is a limit you set in order to protect and promote your integrity.  There are physical boundaries (your three-foot bubble) and emotional boundaries.  Emotional boundaries get violated when someone else tries to interfere with your ideas, beliefs, values and opinions.  Emotional boundary violations also occur when someone is verbally or emotionally abusive (name-calling, put-downs, eye-rolling, ignoring, etc.).

In childhood, we needed to learn that we have boundaries and the right to defend them.  We also needed to learn how to speak up for ourselves and set boundaries with others.  Setting healthy boundaries is a foundation for becoming emotionally mature and psychologically balanced as an adult.

Here are messages that we should have heard (or felt) in childhood in order to learn that we have boundaries and how to set them with others:

  • As your parent, I’m here to take care of your needs.
  • It’s my job to validate your feelings.
  • I’m here to protect you.
  • You have permission to explore your world.
  • It’s safe for you to look, touch and taste things.
  • I’ll make it safe for you to take risks and experiment with life.
  • You have permission to say “No.”
  • It’s my job to model for you how to protect your boundaries with the right person, to the right degree and in the right manner so that you will feel safe in the world.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes because that is how you learn.
  • I love watching you develop your own unique identity.
  • You have permission to ask for what you want.
  • It’s safe for you to be your authentic self, not what others want you to be.
  • It’s normal for you to cry sometimes.
  • You can trust your intuitive feelings to help you make decisions.
  • I’m helping you to fully accept responsibility for your actions and deal with the consequences of your choices.
  • You will always have daily “challenges” to overcome, and you have the power to overcome them.
  • You have permission to choose your friends, partner(s) and business associates based on how you feel when you are with them.
  • You have the right to have the things you want, become what you want to become, go where you want to go, live where you want to live, love who you want to love and to feel good, happy and healthy.

Adolescence is the time when we start to separate from our parents, which is totally normal, natural and necessary.  It’s part of normal human development.  As a teenager, we act out as a way to establish our own unique identity.  The ultimate goal is to be prepared with the life skills as well as feel self-empowered enough to leave home and live life as a healthy, mature adult.  Setting boundaries is a crucial skill in order to feel safe and secure in the world.  Once we learn how to protect our boundaries, we can safely pursue those interests and activities that feed our unique personality, needs and desires.

Next week, we’ll explore what happens when these four emotional dependency needs remain unfulfilled as we move into adulthood.  With these needs unmet, the Ego kicks in to protect us.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  If you are interested in individual coaching to increase your self-awareness, emotional intelligence and overall effectiveness, please contact cindy@aleadershipcoach.com.

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About the author

Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. administrator

As a Certified Spiritual Life Coach, I specialize in emotional and social intelligence coaching for business leaders and key managers to increase effectiveness and overall satisfaction in both business and personal arenas. I provide one-on-one coaching in person or over the phone.