The Three R’s of Boundaries

Happy Women’s History Month! This month, I am bringing a couple of different women to the blog because there’s enough room at the table for everyone, amen? Amen.

These women have been impactful in my life, and I want them to share what they want to share. They are family, friends, sorority sisters, and more, and first up is one I have known for my entire life, none other than my sister, Dr. Darby

She has more degrees than a thermometer, and I asked her to talk about one of her favorite subjects: boundaries. Check out what she had to say below. 


The Three R’s of Boundaries by Jacquelin Darby, Psy.D., CGP

The journey of wellness is not just limited to physical health. Having healthy boundaries gives you the freedom to engage in your wellness practice. Consider developing healthy boundaries as part of your healthy practice. 

Not every relationship or situation deserves the same type of boundary setting.

The key aspect of developing healthy boundaries is to identify the relationship with the person you are setting a boundary with. Not every relationship or situation deserves the same type of boundary setting. Understanding how open or closed you want to be should be determined by how close or away you want to be towards the other person. To help aid in this reflection, think of three things: reason, relationship, and respect.

Reason: What is your reason for this interaction?

Identifying the reason for an interaction helps you make an informed decision about the type of boundaries you will want to develop. For example, if you are just interacting with the person for a specific purpose (e.g., asking a stranger for directions), you probably will treat them differently than the person with whom you are pursuing a romantic future. Different interaction goals mean different ways you develop a boundary.

Relationship: Is maintaining this relationship a priority?

If you have determined that maintaining the relationship with this individual is important, you may be more flexible with your boundaries. Keep in mind that the value of the relationships can be re-evaluated.  Having an occasional review process regarding the connection will protect you and the other person. 

Respect: Do you feel respected?

Every interaction should leave you feeling respected, emotionally validated, and heard. If at any point you do not feel respected in a relationship, that may be a sign to review the relationship. Remember, safety first, even in relationships. 

One last thing. 

Treat each boundary-setting attempt as an experiment. Try out a new way of interacting, observe the other person’s reaction, and then re-evaluate the situation without judgment. Give yourself grace as you try out something new.

Developing healthy boundaries is a practice; the more you practice, the easier it will get.  What you allow in your space will help you not only say “no” to unhealthy things but also allow you to maintain your “no” for a more fulfilled life.

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