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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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