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  • The Secret to Healthy Relationships

    Creating Healthy Relationships begins with setting boundaries both personally and professionally. Personal boundaries are guidelines or rules that identify reasonable, safe, and permissible ways for others to behave toward you. Boundaries are the first line of defense for creating a sense of safety physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Exploring and expressing your personal identity is made possible by the boundaries you establish with others especially those that are closest to you. Relationships are nurtured and sustained by the mutual respect for one another’s boundaries.

    Boundaries allow you to define and express your individuality while at the same time connect with others and belong in relationships. There is a dynamic quality in setting and relaxing boundaries that maintains this fine balance between autonomy and belonging. Boundaries that allow for more autonomy tend to be more rigid, keeping others at “arm’s length.” On the other hand, fluid boundaries allow for little autonomy requiring that personal aspects such as physical space, spiritual beliefs, political ideas, interests and resources must be shared. There are potential risks when boundaries are out of balance. The more permeable, the greater risk to be hurt and taken advantage of or the more rigid increases the odds of being alone and not allowing others to “know” you. Either extreme can lead to lonely and unsatisfying relationships. Healthy boundaries allow for a balanced blend of autonomy and belonging.

    Responding assertively to boundary violations is the key to having healthy boundaries. Saying, “no” requires maturity and finesse. When it’s uncomfortable to say “no,” it is easy to err by either being too aggressive or too passive. Aggressive responses typically show a lack of respect for the other person, while passive responses show a lack of respect for yourself. There are also passive-aggressive responses that really are just aggressive but in a passive way. Assertive responses both preserve your needs and the dignity of others.

    Boundaries in professional relationships are a little different in the sense that the role of a helping professional is to give. The focus of the relationship is on the needs of the consumer. The professional is getting paid to give and not ask for reciprocity. The key to healthy professional relationships is first to ensure your personal needs are being met, that your cup is being filled. Secondly, that your needs are being met elsewhere, meaning… not by your clients. Hopefully, your professional work feels rewarding, and that you believe you can make a difference. As soon as it doesn’t, this is the signal that you are running low and need to fill your cup.

    Boundaries, both personally and professionally are a life-long pursuit. If you would like to explore how boundaries can help you create more balance in your life, visit to schedule an individual session or check out my online BALANCE program.