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The Boundary Resistance You Weren't Ready For

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

Your therapist keeps talking to you about the importance of boundaries. You've had this conversation a bunch of times and decide that now is the time to finally set those much needed boundaries with your family member who keeps overstepping and stressing you out. Like clockwork, they cross that line but this time you're ready. You tell them that you're not okay with them talking to you in that way... but to your surprise, they don't take it well. Let's explore the pushback you may receive with boundary setting.

Well, one thing is that this person probably was not in your therapy session. Shoot, they might not even have insight into their behavior or your dynamic. So although this is probably a boundary that is very necessary for you, it's probably going to come from left field for them. Let's take it from their perspective. You two have been dealing with one another in a certain way for months, maybe years, possibly even decades. And now one day you tell them, "You can't treat me this way." That can catch many people off guard even if they are overall healthy people trying to better themselves. Should you stop setting this boundary? Nope!... Just wanted to show you how someone may need some time to adjust.

In a possibly less innocent way, it's also sometimes just an inconvenience for that person. "Oh, you mean I can't treat you any way I want to?!" Yes, that's exactly what it means, Aunt Leslie. And that doesn't mean that you're being disrespectful (although you may want to keep the sassy clapbacks in your head rather than out your mouth because that is probably Aunt Leslie's boundary). Or there may even be people that are very unhealthy in your life who don't care about your boundary because they challenge your worth on a regular basis. Hopefully, they gon' learn today!

If you continue to be consistent with this boundary setting, people will start to pick up on what you will and won't allow. But don't get it twisted, they might not be "here for it". You keep telling this person that you're not okay with their behavior, you follow through on what happens when they ignore your boundary, and they just... keep... doing it! UGH! Well, as you probably know by now, you can't control anyone else's behavior. So you may want to start reflecting on what your next steps are to keep yourself healthy. Does that mean you see them less? You immediately pack up your bag to head home once certain topics come up? Or you cut off the relationship entirely (yep, that good ol' KonMarie method)?

But regardless of the resistance you may receive, you are well within your right to set appropriate boundaries for your relationships. Reflect on how you should be treated, be consistent, and respond respectfully but accordingly when someone disregards these limits. And even if this relationship ends up gone with the wind, I'm sure that you'll have others in your life who recognize your worth. I'm here to tell you, if nothing else, I do.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

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