GROUPS LIMITED TO 6 MEMBERS
Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support. It IS a skill you can master.
Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn. We might pick up pointers here and there from experience or through watching others. But for many of us, boundary-building is a relatively new concept and a challenging one.
At the core of this concept of practicing boundaries, is practicing self-care, and self love. It might feel perfectly natural to stand up for one’s child, or a loved one, however standing up for oneself can feel completely foreign, shameful, and somehow wrong at times.
What is Self Love?
If people have self-love, they respect their thoughts, feelings and beliefs and experience a deep sense of pride; a strut like feeling that says they have the right to have ideas, speak them, and expect others to be respectful. People that truly love themselves acknowledge and accept the fact that they have some limitations, faults and, for the most part excuse themselves. They learn from the mistakes made in life. Learning how to love ones self originates in childhood through nurturing from parents who modeled the benefits of being kind, caring and honest, and accepted the child’s minor imperfections. In other words, people learn the art of emotional self protection, and learn how to love, through parental modeling.
Self-care, and boundaries are especially precarious for those who have experienced family dysfunction, alcoholism, and other addictions. Self-care in the form of truly advocating for one’s self, can seem entirely foreign.
What are boundaries?
Internal, personal boundaries protect people from getting emotionally upset just as external boundaries protect the country from invasion. The goals of both are to keep people out. Internal personal boundaries are something like an emotional “bubble wrap” which stretches a bit during conversations. Internal boundaries are different from the fixed and rigid external boundaries that countries establish. For example, the walls of China were so to speak constructed of stone.
The ability to execute an internal boundary depends on how people value their sense of self, their thoughts, ideas, and beliefs and is dependent on one’s ability to have self love. In general, people define relationships by how much they care for another, and by how much they want to maintain the sense of self. Once again this emotional “plastic wrap” is present in all relationships: family, friends, coworkers and everyone in the world. Accepting the boundaries that others impose, will guide the relationship on a path that leads to mutual respect!
People who feel emotionally vulnerable or those who desperately want to seek approval from others are most susceptible to losing their sense of self because the protection, the “bubble wrap”, their emotional boundary was not noticed, properly set, or communicated. Be cautious about making too many compromises, as the “bubble wrap” can expand to the point of breaking, and may cause people to question their own thoughts, feelings and identity. This questioning leaves a hole in peoples self esteem. Emotional boundaries are indeed flexible however can break under stress, or when making too many compromises, much easier than the rigid concrete walls of China.*
In this group of no more than 6 women, participants will receive both group and professional support in developing self-love, self-care practices, and healthy boundaries. We will create a safe space to cultivate new behaviors, and ways of thinking about self care. These indispensable tools take on great power as they are passed on to our children, and filter down through future generations. We cannot give what we do not have. For this reason it is critical that we are able to model healthy boundaries to our children. We, and they, deserve this gift.
Some of the tools that will be using during our time together can be broken down by Dana Gionta, Ph.D:
4. Giving yourself permission. Get rid of fear, guilt, and self-doubt.
5. Practicing self-awareness. Own your feelings and honor them.
6. Considering the past and your present day relationships.
7. Making self-care a priority.
8. Seeking support.
9. Being assertive (in a respectful way).
10. Start small. Easy does it, but do it.
Like any new skill, assertively communicating your boundaries takes practice. Starting with a small boundary that isn’t threatening to you, and then incrementally increasing to more challenging boundaries is. “Build upon your success, and [at first] try not to take on something that feels overwhelming.”
Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support. And remember that it’s a skill you can master.
*Dr. Cheryl A. MacDonald