The scary world of setting healthy boundaries

For young adults, 2018 is a trying time. Technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate, social awareness increases daily, and pressure to be a perfect individual skyrockets as each fad passes.

These things create an often toxic standard we try to live up to. People suspend their boundaries because they have an undying need to be accepted, loved, and cherished in an almost- religious manner.

For example, we are constantly bombarded on social media with stories about unhealthy relationships, behaviors and actions.

When Mac Miller passed this week, I saw countless people on Twitter and Instagram blaming his ex, Ariana Grande, for his death. There is even an account called “Ariana Killed Mac Miller.” Personally, I was disgusted. Whether you like Ariana Grande or not, it is cruel and hateful to blame someone for leaving a toxic relationship.

To put things into it in perspective, imagine your best friend being in a relationship with a drug addict. Try as they may, their love and support is never enough to get their partner clean. So they leave. That would, understandably, be a painful and difficult decision to make.

Imagine how awful it would be if their ex overdosed. Even worse, if people who knew nothing of the struggle with this decision blamed them for the death itself, blasting on social media that your best friend killed the person they loved for so long?

Of course, I don’t know Ariana Grande. I never knew Mac Miller. Even though I’ve listened to their music for nearly a decade, I have no authority to speculate on Mac Miller’s mental state or drug usage.

I think this situation is important to talk about, because promoting a narrative based on assumptions about someone’s motives—without knowing the full story—shows how willing we are to cross healthy boundaries online.

Believing that you know what people want or need, without knowing them or having evidence to support your claim, is unhealthy and toxic.

As a young adult, we get to make our lives into whatever we want it to be. From where I’m standing, why would we want to put ourselves back into toxic and abusive situations if we could move forward into a happy, healthy life?

And why would we take to social media and blame others for doing the same?

The first step in moving towards a healthy lifestyle is to set appropriate boundaries within yourself. Unfortunately, this is the hardest part.

Here is a crash course in setting healthy boundaries for yourself that I use on a daily basis:

  • Identify your feelings as they come and what caused that reaction to bubble up
  • Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements
    • “I feel hurt when _____” instead of “you make me feel hurt when _____”
  • Trust your sense of danger, you feel that way for a reason
  • If you want to say no, then say no. Trust yourself enough that you don’t fall into manipulation
  • Be clear, direct, and honest when speaking/texting
  • Acknowledge when you start to feel violated, so you can take action
  • Set your limits (where you will go, what you will do, how long you will stay) and stick to them
  • Identify and avoid people who are only looking for a means to their own narrative
    • Often times people will use you and disrespect your boundaries if it promotes something they want – this is a toxic behavior to support and will make your journey harder!
  • Find ways to make your boundaries clear to other people
  • If you feel violated, for whatever reason, do not minimize your experience. Your violation is a personal, deep feeling that may not make sense to other people. The beautiful thing, however, is that it does not have to make sense to anyone else.
  • Remember that working on your boundaries equates to a healthy lifestyle change, not a selfish attitude
  • Most importantly, forgive yourself for any mistakes you may make along your journey. Forgive others for their mistakes and learn from each situation. We are human and we all make mistakes, be the best you can and find peace in the life you lead

I’ve spent a year working on setting healthy boundaries, and one of the most important things I’ve learned is that you will mess up.

You will find yourself in a toxic situation every once in awhile.

Sometimes, if you don’t pay close enough attention, you can become part of the problem.

Mistakes make us human. More importantly, they promote growth in ways we could never dream of.

Finding your boundaries will help you figure out when someone else is exhibiting toxic traits, but it will also help you figure out the things you need to avoid in order to feel safe, loved and cherished.

Boundaries are an uphill battle , they are constantly being poked and prodded. They evolve and grow, but most importantly, they protect us from things that violate us.

Don’t be afraid to set and enforce your own boundaries. And don’t blame others for doing the same.

bamkkf@mail.umkc.edu

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