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Trouble With Relationships? Boundaries Could Be the Answer

By Jesus Velasquez, LIMHP November 28, 2023 Posted in: Mental Health

If you’ve ever thought of ending a relationship with a family member or friend, with no intention of interacting or communicating with them again, you’re not alone. 

It’s called a “cut-off” and it’s an increasing trend. 

In a time when levels of loneliness are at an all time high, it seems a support system is needed now more than ever. Perhaps you want to rethink cutting people off. So what is the alternative? 

Examine Your Boundaries

At a recent conference, I learned about therapist Nedra Tawwab’s work on boundaries and how essential they can be in light of this rising trend.

If you are considering cutting someone off because you feel emotionally and physically drained, and you feel that you give your all in relationships and yet nothing changes, it’s time to examine your boundaries. 

I get it – one more thing on the To Do list is the last thing anyone needs. 

Boundaries Can Be Different with Colleagues, Family and Friends

You might be surprised to realize you already have boundaries – in  your workplace, with friends, and with family members. They are different with each person and that is okay, because a boundary with your boss is naturally much different than with a friend.    

Boundaries Help You Feel Safe, Secure and Supported

So what exactly is a boundary? According to Nedra Tawwab a boundary is verbal communication or action that you take to communicate to someone so you feel safe, secure, and supported in a relationship. Examples of boundaries:

  • Letting someone know what you expect of them or how you want to be treated.

  • Asking for help

  • Saying “no” to someone’s request.

  • Keeping advice to yourself unless asked.

Boundaries Can Help Prevent a Cut Off

Why are boundaries key in the “cut off” scenario? According to Tawwab: 

“When we don’t tell people what we want, we set them up for failure. In addition, we also set ourselves up for disappointment. We end up feeling like we haven’t been heard and haven’t been seen, but for people to see us, sometimes, we have to tell them what to see.” 

How To Start Setting Boundaries

How can you start setting boundaries? Begin by identifying what you desire from a relationship if you’re unhappy with it – and then communicate it. Keep in mind: 

  • Boundaries are on a continuum, meaning that setting a boundary can make immediate changes but some changes can take longer. 

  • Understand that boundaries with people can change – some quickly and others over time.

  • It is natural for feelings like guilt to happen when setting and enforcing a boundary. 

If you’re interested in exploring boundaries in your life with a professional, contact one of our mental health therapists. The CHI Health Information and Referral Line is (402) 717-HOPE

Jesus Velasquez, LIMHP
Jesus Velasquez, LIMHP

Jesus A. Velasquez, LIMHP is a mental health therapist with CHI Health.

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