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Don’t Be Afraid to Set Boundaries: Studio 5

Does the fear of offending friends or family members keep you from setting boundaries? It’s a timely topic with the holidays fast approaching. Therapist, Julie Hanks, says it’s ok to set boundaries, even if you offend someone.


Q: Why are we afraid to set boundaries that might offend someone?

You might mistakenly confuse boundaries with aggression or with using a “sword” stance. It might feel “mean” to you to do something that you know will contribute to another person’s pain, or you may feel responsible for other people’s emotions.

It’s helpful to think of these 3 relationship stances when setting boundaries:

Doormat –

This passive stance is characterized by a lack of awareness of your own feelings, highly valuing pleasing others, devaluing own wants and needs, and feeling “run over” by others. You value other’s emotional needs above self.

Sword –

In this reactive stance, you’re emotionally “on guard”, lashing out at slightest hint of emotional threat, on “high alert”. You might let emotions build up and then explode with cutting words, snide remarks, or become cold and aloof and unavailable. You value your own self-protection over other’s needs.

Lantern –

In this enlightened stance, your “emotional” feet are planted firmly on the ground. There is a feeling of calmness as you seek a broader perspective. When you do get upset you don’t ignore it or react to it but seek understanding. You value your own and other’s emotions and desires and take responsibility for your part.