We’ve taken a look at how important healthy boundaries are for us in thriving through conflict and how boundaries that are either too rigid or too loose can wreck our relationships, careers, and peace of mind. There are two kinds of boundaries – the ones that regulate and protect how we think and feel internally and those that guide us in how to relate to others.
So, how do we make sure our boundaries are good and healthy ones which set us up for success? Let’s take a look at five keys to making sure that your internal boundaries are healthy and secure.
1. Learn to recognize your own emotional responses.
If you consistently react the same way to similar situations, pay attention to that. Ask the question “What makes me angry, what makes me sad, what causes passion to rise up inside of me?”. Those are important cues to why you respond the way you do.
2. Become aware of how other people react to you.
If you’ve ever scratched your head and wondered “Why in the world did he react that way? That’s not what I meant at all” then you have the chance for a moment of exceptional insight. What verbal or nonverbal cues might you be giving which are causing others to respond negatively, positively, or strongly to you?
3. Recognize situations in which you repeat the same behaviors and receive the same results.
The old cliche is ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Like most cliches there is a large measure of truth there. Turn that statement on its head. What behaviors, when repeated, produce pleasing and positive results for you in terms of your interactions with others? How can you cultivate them?
4. Recognize situations that create anxiety for you and acknowledge that fear to yourself.
This is not about avoidance or turning away or succumbing to fear – far from it! You may have to dive into some very deep waters in conflict to learn more about yourself and your reactions. But if you can acknowledge the fear you have rather than denying it or attempting to beat it senseless, you have already accomplished a lot.
5. Become aware of the people who provoke emotional responses in you.
You may find yourself saying of others “She’s so needy”, “He’s so demanding”, “He makes me feel insignificant or anxious”. Once you have recognized and acknowledged this you are in a perfect position to ask why and to dive deeper into the kind of self-understanding which will lead to you becoming a skilled conflict navigator.
How are you doing with each of these five keys for healthy internal boundaries?
What can you do today to shore at least one of them up and turn it into a strength for you?