8 Signs You Might Need Help With Boundaries
"I can't do it any more. I'm done. No matter how much I do for him, there's always more. Always a need, a request, or a crisis. I'm exhausted."
Joe is a loving father and caring husband. He works long hours and provides for his family. He is in therapy to get help in his relationship with his adult son, who just hasn't been able to launch. Speeding tickets, overdue student loans, relationship woes and a string of job losses has caused Joe's son to be dependent on him - emotionally and financially.
"When I was his age, I was a father! I had health insurance benefits and was already paying into my retirement plan. Now I don't know if I'll ever be able to retire, because I'm still supporting him."
Not so much.
Next to communication, the problem of boundaries is the most common issue I encounter with my clients. In fact, treatment plans for virtually every person who walks into my office include the goals of "improving communication and boundaries."
I've found boundaries to be one of those elusive concepts that people are familiar with, but don't completely understand. (Codependence is another.)
In 1992 Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote an extremely helpful book about boundaries, and it remains a best-selling book today. The cover boasts over 2 million sold.
So we should all be experts, right?
That has not been my experience. In fact, whether we have read the book or not, most of us could use some help in the boundaries department.
In the next few posts I'll be exploring the topic of boundaries in more detail.
First, let's talk about how to determine if boundaries are even the problem. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Have you ever said or thought something like this-- "I'm a patient person. I can take and take and take, but when I have had enough, I explode."?
Do you ever feel "done" with a relationship -- particularly with someone you don't really have the option of being done with, like a parent, child, or sibling?
Is it common for you to feel overwhelmed and burdened by certain people?
Do you often feel like you do all the giving while others do all the taking?
Do you find that you never seem to have enough time to pursue your own interests and activities?
Have you struggled with anger or resentment toward people close to you? Has that resentment started to affect your relationships?
Do you feel like people constantly take advantage of you?
Would you like to just "wipe the slate" clean and get a do-over with your schedule, your responsibilities, or your commitments?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may have some work to do with boundaries.
Boundaries are figuring out where you end and where another person begins. They're about figuring out what problems are yours to solve, and what problems belong to other people. Using healthy boundaries requires you to be aware of what you are able and willing to do and then communicating that to others in an effective way. Boundaries are also about learning to accept the consequences that may come with them, and learning to live with the outcome when it is not what you want.
If you could use some help in the boundaries department, stay tuned. In my next post, I'll talk about the one person you need to start using boundaries with immediately.
Need more? If you are feeling stuck and need some outside help in managing your communication, emotions, or relationships, our team at Generations Counseling is available! Give us a call at 317-743-8202 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org today.