A Little Secret About Why You’re Angry All The Time: Poor Boundaries
Bonny is at the end of her rope with her kids. She has a “strict” curfew of 9pm for her kids, and they continue to disobey, getting home way past the curfew. She works hard enough to provide for her home, and now she’s angry and yelling often when she’s home. Things escalate quickly, and eventually Bonny stops talking to her kids, but nothing changes. They all end up feeling more and more disconnected. After a few days, Bonny gets tired of the loneliness, and she goes back to letting her kids keep breaking the rules. And the cycle repeats itself again and again. From one extreme to the other–rage to disconnect. The fear of setting clear, consistent limits (of saying “no”) grows, for fear of disconnection. So, Bonny says “yes” to everything, and feels abused and disrespected.
When we have very diffuse limits, we end up resentful, powerless, and trapped. That damages any relationship.
A healthy relationship is one where we can say no or receive a no without feeling guilty or resentful.
3 Types of Boundaries:
1. Diffuse: very passive, we feel controlled, trampled, without control of our decisions.
2. Rigid: very cold or aggressive, we control others, we feel superior to others, leads to loneliness.
3. Clear: assertive, there is mutual respect, equality, and freedom to have differences.
Diffuse boundaries quickly become rigid boundaries when we get tired of being “walked on,” as a way of protecting ourselves. But, neither of them is healthy because neither changes the root of the problem (neither leads to taking responsibility for bad behaviors).
Clear boundaries are the healthiest because they allow us to feel safe and respected in the relationship. We can say “no” without negative consequences (abandonment, anger from the other, guilt).
Signs that someone is crossing your boundaries:
- We feel anxiety,
- Anger, or
- Fear of interacting with the person
3 Tips on how to improve your relational boundaries:
1. Take responsibility for your own feelings and behaviors. (No one has the power to make you feel bad…you give them power when you interpret the behavior of others as a sign of a problem.)
2. Do not take responsibility for the feelings or behaviors of others. (“I am not responsible for how you feel, I am only responsible for my behavior.”)
3. Change the negative meaning of “no” from something that is “final and bad” to something that is “a start to a win-win negotiation.” (“I cannot give you permission to arrive at 12am, but I can give you half an hour more in your curfew if you call me at 9pm and tell me where you are and with whom.”)
When we have clear boundaries we do not feel anger and resentment, but security and freedom in the relationship.
Need to learn more about how to improve your boundaries? Women’s Support Group can help!