Boundaries: The Key to Healthy Relationships
Boundaries in relationship are the key to fufilling connecitons.
Book an intake consultation Contact Now Schedule an Appointment
26711 Woodward Ave. Suite 306
Huntington Woods, MI 48070
My WordPress Blog
Boundaries in relationship are the key to fufilling connecitons.
Many of us have difficulty with boundaries in relationships and might not even be aware of the problem. If you often feel resentful, drained, unfulfilled, or taken advantage of in your relationships, poor boundaries could be the reason. Having boundaries with others means you can verbalize or act to enforce your limits and maintain your sense of self. Areas of interpersonal boundaries can be physical, mental/emotional, or resource-based.
Physical Boundaries: How others comment on your appearance, limits related to physical intimacy and touch
Mental/Emotional Boundaries: Autonomy in one’s opinions and beliefs, not feeling responsible for someone else’s feelings
Resource Boundaries: Limits on how much time you are available, how much money you contribute, what you are willing to do for the other person
How to Start Setting Boundaries
Establishing healthy boundaries in your relationships starts with being in touch with your own needs. We can become so used to putting others before ourselves we don’t even recognize what we need, let alone have the capacity to assert those needs! Start by noticing where you feel resentful, drained, unfulfilled, or taken advantage of in your relationships. These feelings are a sign of your unmet needs and can be used to identify where you would benefit from establishing healthier boundaries.
If healthy boundaries were never modeled for you, it can be a scary thing to try. Sometimes we are so used to automatically saying ‘yes’ we feel afraid to say ‘no’ and this becomes a resources issue. If this is the case for you, start by identifying a different response such as”‘let me think about that and get back to you”-this will allow you time to think things through and check in with yourself to determine if you genuinely want to say ‘yes’ or would be doing so out of obligation or fear.
Similarly, sometimes we are so used to focusing on others’ needs and emotions we become uncomfortable looking at our own. We have developed the false belief that meeting the needs of others will keep us safe while meeting our own needs is unsafe. In reality, fulfillment and regulation (safety) comes from being attuned to our own needs – our true self – and asserting those needs in our relationships.
It is important to note, not all boundaries need to be verbalized. Sometimes the most effective way to establish a boundary is through your behavior, and the other person might not even be aware of it. In situations where we do communicate our limits to someone, boundaries are not ultimatums or ways to try to control the other person. The goal is to be clear on our limits and become responsible for our needs in relationships, while also respecting the limits of others. When first starting this process, try writing out what you want to communicate to the other person first. Consider the relationship and what you think is beneficial for the other person to know regarding your boundary. Remember, we do not owe an explanation for our needs, but it can be helpful to communicate the ‘why’ depending on the situation.
Expect to feel uncomfortable when you start this process, as with most changes we make, but sometimes it can feel too uncomfortable to do on our own. Because many of us were taught to have unhealthy boundaries in childhood, the reasons behind these difficulties are often deeply rooted and difficult to address without support. Working with a mental health professional can provide guidance in understanding our difficulties with boundaries and help us navigate healthy changes.
LePera, N. (2021). How to Do the Work. Macmillan Publishers, p. 179-205.
-Laura Gross, LMSW
Laura Gross is a Clinical Therapist with Marsh Psychology Group.
You can contact her at:
Filed Under: Couples/Marriage, Issues for Women, Self-Esteem, toxic relationship, Uncategorized
The Invisible Trauma: Childhood Emotional Neglect: Understanding what didn’t happen in childhood, and how it is causing your unhappiness today When we think of abuse and neglect, it usually brings to mind concrete examples of intentional harm through physical, sexual, or verbal abuse. But there is another common form of mistreatment that often occurs in […]
The Invisible Trauma: Childhood Emotional Neglect: Understanding what didn’t happen in childhood, and how it is causing your unhappiness today
When we think of abuse and neglect, it usually brings to mind concrete examples of intentional harm through physical, sexual, or verbal abuse. But there is another common form of mistreatment that often occurs in childhood and goes largely unnoticed. When a child’s emotional needs are routinely overlooked, ignored, invalidated, or unaddressed, we call it emotional neglect.
“But I wasn’t Abused”
Many adults who are dealing with the effects of emotional neglect are hesitant to see there was a problem in the way they were raised, and even remember having good childhoods: their physical needs were met, no one overtly mistreated them, they had a loving family. Emotional Neglect can be difficult to recognize because it most often happens unintentionally. The parent was unable to meet the child’s emotional needs, whether it be the result of an addiction, mental illness, being focused on other things (work, divorce, illness), or simply not having the skills necessary to nurture the child’s emotional experience. In an emotionally neglectful environment, the child is shown their feelings are not important or are wrong. When this occurs, the child learns to detach from and ignore their own feelings, and this continues into adulthood if not addressed.
Here are common signs of Emotional Neglect:
1)You feel empty or disconnected from feelings, you are unable to identify and express feelings
2)You feel guilt or shame about your needs or feelings
3)You fear being dependent on others, and you reject offers of help
4)You do not seem to ‘know’ yourself: your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses
5)You are hard on yourself and give others more compassion than you give yourself
6)You are easily overwhelmed and discouraged
7)You have low self-esteem and are sensitive to rejection
8)You believe you are flawed; feel there is something inherently wrong with you that you cannot name
So What Can I Do About it Now?
Because emotional neglect is caused by caregivers who were not attuned to your emotions and did not acknowledge them adequately, you can start by doing this for yourself. Begin to check in with yourself throughout the day and identify how you are feeling, and why. Avoid judging or criticizing how you feel; work on accepting your emotions. Once you are able to identify, accept, and connect with your emotions, you can learn to support your own needs and communicate them to others.
This process takes time and can be significantly enhanced with the support of a mental health therapist who can help guide you in learning to meet your own emotional needs.
-Webb, J., & Musello, C. (2019). Running on empty: Overcome your childhood emotional neglect
-Laura Gross, LMSW
Laura Gross is a fully licensed social worker who specializes in teen mental health issues. Contact her at:
Marsh Psychology Group: 248-860-2024
Filed Under: Anxiety, Depression, Issues for Women, Trauma / PTSD, Uncategorized Tagged With: Anxiety, Depression
Relationships can only be healthy when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their personal integrity. Sadly, many people find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s. These people most likely grew up […]
Relationships can only be healthy when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their personal integrity. Sadly, many people find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s. These people most likely grew up in households that were unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries.
If you can relate, chances are you have a hard time creating healthy boundaries to create the life experience you wish to have. Here are some ways you can begin to do so:
You can’t set boundaries unless you discover where it is you personally stand. You’ll need to take a bit of time to recognize what you can and cannot tolerate. What makes you happy and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Only until you have made these discoveries can you move on to the next steps.
People who have similar communication styles are easy to engage with. These people will quickly understand what your new barriers are. But people who have a different cultural background or personality may not easily understand your boundaries. With these people, it’s important to be very clear and direct.
People who have a hard time setting boundaries don’t often allow themselves to acknowledge their own feelings because they’re usually too busy worrying about everyone else’s.
You’ll need to start recognizing how people make you feel in order to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. When you’re with someone, make mental notes, or even jot down in a journal how that interaction made you feel.
If, after spending time with someone, you feel anger or resentment, this is a sign that the person may be overstepping your boundaries. Reiterate to this person what your boundaries are. If they continue to disrespect you and them, you will want to cut yourself away from further interactions.
Put yourself and your needs first. This may feel strange and even somehow wrong if you’ve spent your entire life taking care of others. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and get what you need to feel happy and well.
If you’ve spent an entire life with a sense of low self-worth, you may find setting boundaries quite difficult. In this case, it’s important to speak with a therapist that can help you discover where these feelings are coming from and how to change your thought patterns and behavior.
If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to help you on your journey toward self-care.
Filed Under: Couples/Marriage, General, Issues for Women
“God, you can be so stupid sometimes.” “Why would he be attracted to YOU?” “You’re just going to screw this up.” These are things you would probably never say to another human being unless you’re a real jerk. But how many of us have that inner critic that says these kinds of things all the […]
“God, you can be so stupid sometimes.”
“Why would he be attracted to YOU?”
“You’re just going to screw this up.”
These are things you would probably never say to another human being unless you’re a real jerk. But how many of us have that inner critic that says these kinds of things all the time.
Most of us treat ourselves far more harshly than we would anyone else. And that’s a shame. In my experience, so much of the depression and anxiety my clients feel stems from a dysfunctional relationship they have with themselves.
But every day is a chance for you to develop a loving relationship with yourself. And the best way to do that is to practice self-compassion.
If that concept seems foreign to you or you are even uncomfortable with the idea of showing yourself compassion, then please keep reading to learn some simple but profound ways you can begin to practice self-compassion as a way to connect lovingly with yourself.
Self-compassion is the pathway to emotional healing. But to begin, you must become more aware of your own emotions, especially as they relate to yourself.
Try to be more aware of when you are emotionally struggling with something. Perhaps you are feeling confused, desperate, or inadequate. Ordinarily, in these moments your inner critic may strike. But now, try and offer yourself kindness instead.
You may say something to yourself life, “I know you’re disappointed. And I also know you did your best. And I am so proud of you.”
If you are at a loss for the right words in these moments, simply talk to yourself as you would a friend, or better yet, a small child.
Until you become used to being compassionate toward yourself, you’ll want to monitor the language you use. You are most likely so used to criticizing yourself that it will be far too easy for the wrong choice of words to come out. That’s okay. In these moments you certainly don’t want to scold yourself. Just be aware and make a compassionate correction.
There’s a phrase that says, “get out of your head and drop into your body.” This is a perfect way to begin the ritual of self-compassion.
Begin to use kind physical gestures with yourself. This could be gently stroking your cheeks and temples when you’re stressed, holding your hand over your heart when you’re sad, or holding your own hand when you feel lonely. Any physical gesture, so long as it’s loving, will help you show yourself true love and kindness in those moments.
For some people who have very low self-esteem, showing themselves compassion may prove to be incredibly difficult. In these cases, it’s a good idea to speak with a therapist who can help them uncover where the feelings stem from and how they can change their thoughts and behavior.
If you are interested in exploring treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to see how I may be able to help.
Filed Under: General, Issues for Women, Self-Esteem
Valentine’s day is just around the corner. For many people that means celebrating with their spouse or partner and showing them extra love and attention. But for others, Valentine’s Day is a sad reminder that they are single or are perhaps grieving the recent loss of their significant other. If you are celebrating it alone […]
Valentine’s day is just around the corner. For many people that means celebrating with their spouse or partner and showing them extra love and attention. But for others, Valentine’s Day is a sad reminder that they are single or are perhaps grieving the recent loss of their significant other.
If you are celebrating it alone this year, here are a few ways you can alleviate your sadness this Valentine’s Day.
It’s bad enough to feel lonely, but it’s even worse to scold yourself for doing so. Loneliness is not an indication that you’re doing anything wrong or that there is something wrong and unlovable about you.
Even people that are in relationships can feel incredibly lonely. Loneliness affects everyone at some point in their life. It’s not a sin to feel this way, so stop scolding yourself.
How many times during the year do you make a real effort to show yourself love? If you’re like most people, you don’t really think much about how you treat yourself.
This Valentine’s Day, if you find yourself a party of one, try and make the best of it by focusing all of your love and attention on yourself. Take yourself out to a nice dinner. Or, if you don’t like the idea of sitting at a table alone surrounded by couples, then order in your favorite food and watch your favorite movie.
Take a nice long bath. Listen to your favorite band. Buy yourself a little gift on the way home from work. Use this Valentine’s Day to commit to showing yourself more love and kindness throughout the year.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday to show love. No one says that love must be shown in a romantic way.
This is a great time to show your affection and appreciation for the wonderful people in your life. Get your best friend a box of chocolates or your mom a bouquet of flowers. Put a card on your neighbor’s windshield and your coworker’s computer monitor.
You can be filled with love by being loved, and you can be filled with love by loving others. The more love YOU show this holiday, the more love you will feel inside. And you would be amazed at how the loneliness quickly slips away when you are full of love.
Don’t let the commercialism of the holiday make you feel alone and isolated. You really can have a lovely Valentine’s day if you love yourself and others.
Filed Under: Depression, General, Issues for Women, Self-Esteem
Most of us from a young age are taught how to be kind, considerate and compassionate toward others. But rarely are we told to show the same consideration to ourselves. This becomes even more true for individuals brought up in abusive or unloving homes. What is Self-Compassion? Self-compassion is taken from Buddhist psychology and refers […]
Most of us from a young age are taught how to be kind, considerate and compassionate toward others. But rarely are we told to show the same consideration to ourselves. This becomes even more true for individuals brought up in abusive or unloving homes.
Self-compassion is taken from Buddhist psychology and refers to how we can relate to the self with kindness. Self-compassion or self-love is NOT to be confused with arrogance or selfishness. In actuality, arrogance and selfishness stem from the absence of self-love.
But what does it really mean to be kind with ourselves? It means that on a day-to-day basis we are mindful of being courteous, supportive and compassionate with ourselves. Too many individuals treat themselves with harsh judgement instead of compassion.
Why is this important? Because self-compassion helps us recognize our unconditional worth and value. It allows us to recognize though we my sometimes make bad decisions, we’re not bad people.
Research, over the past decade, has shown the parallel between self care and psychological wellbeing. Those who recognize self-compassion also tend to have better connections with others, are reportedly happier with their own lives, and have a higher satisfaction with life overall. Self-compassion also correlates with less shame, anxiety and depression.
Now that you know the what and why of self-compassion, let’s look at the how.
Treat Yourself as You Would a Small Child
You would never harshly judge or belittle a small child the way you do yourself. You would only want to help and love that child. When you begin to treat yourself as you would a small child, you begin to show yourself the same love, gentleness and kindness.
Every minute your mind is handling millions of bits of information, though you consciously are only aware of a few of them. This is to say we all have scripts or programs running in our minds 24/7. These scripts and programs are running our lives, insisting we have certain behaviors and make certain decisions.
Some of these scripts are the ones that tell us how “bad” or “unlovable” we are. They’ve been running since we were kids. The way to quiet these scripts is to become more mindful of your own mind.
When you begin to have a feeling or reaction to something, stop and ask yourself WHO is feeling that? Is it the compassionate self or the program running? If it’s the program, thank the program for what it has done and release it.
Good Will vs Good Feelings
Self-compassion is a conscious act of kindness we show ourselves; it’s not a way to alleviate emotional pain. Life happens, and we can’t always avoid negative or sad feelings. Never mistake self-compassion as a tool to ignore your deep and rich emotional life.
These are just a few ways you can begin to cultivate self-compassion. If you’d like to explore more options or talk to someone about your feelings of self-rejection and judgement, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss how cognitive therapy may help.
Filed Under: General, Issues for Women
People use different coping strategies when dealing with stress and other overwhelming emotions. Some people use substances such as drugs and alcohol, some smoke cigarettes, and some charge a lot of money to their credit card. And then there are those people who take comfort in their favorite foods. Emotional eating often leads to weight […]
People use different coping strategies when dealing with stress and other overwhelming emotions. Some people use substances such as drugs and alcohol, some smoke cigarettes, and some charge a lot of money to their credit card. And then there are those people who take comfort in their favorite foods.
Emotional eating often leads to weight gain and the development of health issues such as type two diabetes and high blood pressure. If left unchecked, emotional eating can lead to a life-long reliance on eating as a coping mechanism.
If you or someone you love is an emotional eater, becoming more mindful of eating is how you can manage your food issues. Here are some ways to become a more mindful eater:
Most emotional eaters are completely unaware of the kind or amount of food they eat on a daily or weekly basis. It’s important to start tracking what you consume as well as how much so you can recognize the real issue you may be having. This is not an exercise in harshly judging yourself, it’s simply so you can recognize the link between your emotions and eating habits.
For instance, you may see that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty okay days, but Thursday was when you got yelled at while you were at work and also got a speeding ticket, and ALSO ate fast food for lunch and dinner and ate almost a gallon of ice cream. Once you see this pattern over and over, that you tend to eat on those days you are stressed, angry, sad, etc., you will be able to start making positive changes.
When we eat emotionally, we don’t stop to think about the amount of food we are eating, we just shove it in as quickly as possible so those carbs can start making us feel better. The next time you find yourself eating based on your emotions, try and catch yourself and meter out a fair-sized portion. For instance, don’t sit in front of the TV with an entire bag of potato chips, take out a small bowl’s worth and put the rest away.
When we are alone, we can eat with abandon. But when we eat with others, we tend to have more awareness about what and how much we put in our mouths. When your day is stressful, instead of going out to lunch by yourself, where you’re apt to hit 2-3 drive-throughs, invite some other people out. This may help you to use more self-control.
These are just a few of the ways you can begin to recognize your emotional eating and gain control over your food choices. If you would like to speak to someone about the emotions you are dealing with and learn healthier coping strategies, please be in touch. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
Filed Under: Addiction, Depression, Issues for Women, Nutrition, Self-Esteem, Teens/Children