A key building block of the AiR program is boundary setting. AiR teaches you the benefits of rewarding your Loved One’s non-use, and stepping away when use occurs. But putting this idea into action is not always easy.
Too often we drift into what I call caretaking mode. The impulse to help a Loved One, to save them, and bring their problems to a healthy resolution becomes so strong that you can lose yourself in your Loved One’s dramas. When your boundaries collapse, you grow resentful, angry, and exhausted.
Here are three emotional boundaries you should learn to set not only with your Loved One, but with any relationship. Practicing these boundaries, as detailed in this video from Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, will help your relationships become stronger and healthier, while also ensuring that you do not lose yourself in the ongoing conflicts with your Loved One.
Practice saying no. Writer and producer Shonda Rhimes recommends saying no as a single complete sentence: “No, I am not able to do that.” As she explains, we are not obligated to defend our niceness by giving a litany of excuses. The next time your Loved One asks you for money or help you are not comfortable giving, simply respond with gentle firmness: “No, I’m not able to do that.”
Embrace your decisions. Friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances love giving free advice. But the truth is that no one is impacted by your decisions the way you are. As entrepreneur and author Wes Moore says, you will never make a decision that everyone agrees with, and that is okay. Resist the temptation to give your decision-making power away. “Don’t let people who don’t matter too much, matter too much,” Moore suggests. Instead, dig deep. Calm your mind, consider the question at hand, turn to the sources of wisdom that matter most, and trust your own intuition.
Finally, remember that you, yourself, matter as an individual. When you focus on others and forget your own needs, your Loved One’s dramas become your own. Speaker and life coach Iyanla Vanzant details how this happened to her as a young woman: “I made my grandmother’s meanness and her crazy and her impatience all about me, and I didn’t know that I mattered because I took on what was given to me as my own.” When you tell your Loved One that you are sorry but you cannot help them pay their rent this month and they explode, their angry response is about them, not you. Practice the communication techniques we teach in Module 4, but remember your boundaries. Remember that you, too, matter. As Vanzant says, “Don’t make someone else’s crazy about you.”
Setting emotional boundaries is a key to creating positive and healthy relationships. Watch the video below and record your own thoughts on boundary setting in your journal.