Keep Relationships Healthy With Compassionate Boundaries

Written by on October 21, 2020 in Personal Accountability, Self-Care


It may seem strange to be talking about boundaries while you’re already feeling limited due to social distancing and pandemic restrictions, but the reality is that setting and maintaining healthy – compassionate – boundaries has never been more important.

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been one doozy of a year. Between the spread of COVID-19, financial turmoil, and political and social upheaval pretty much every aspect of our daily lives has been upended.

Unfortunately, the economy is going to continue to suck wind for the foreseeable future, the upcoming general election has everyone on edge, and predictions for the continued spread of the virus are dire, particularly over the next couple of months.

What this means is that while we may be sick of dealing with this storm, our very lives depend on catching a second wind and rising to the challenge.

Each of us is dealing with the weirdness of this year in our own ways, but the constant strain and uncertainty are exhausting mentally, physically, and spiritually. 

Taking steps to set and maintain compassionate boundaries can give you the space you need to care for your well-being while strengthening your most important relationships.

It’s hard for us to understand that we can be compassionate and accepting while we hold people accountable for their behaviors. The key is to address what they’re doing, not who they are.

~Brene Brown

Boundaries Begin With You

For many people, the toughest part about setting boundaries is learning to be open and honest about their needs without feeling guilty or selfish.

If you’re a master at giving, but struggle when it comes to caring for your own needs it’s going to take time to create a mental shift to accept that making you a priority in your life is not selfish, but necessary.

Like everyone else, you are a person worthy of love, care, and attention.

Creating strong, sustainable boundaries has everything to do with your attitude going in, so it’s much better to approach this process with compassion for yourself as well as others.

Identifying Your Boundaries

The easiest way to recognize areas that need attention is to look for patterns of recurring situations or behavior that leave you feeling anxious, resentful, energy drained, battling an upset stomach, or depressed.

As you identify situations, write them down in a notebook, better yet a personal journal.

Don’t worry about writing skills. This exercise is meant to help you clarify your thoughts and feelings so you can determine the steps that will achieve your desired results.

In other words, this is where you decide where you draw the line.

Here are a few examples of what healthy boundaries look like:

  • Speaking up about how you feel, even in uncomfortable situations
  • Asking for help rather than expecting others to know what you need.
  • Saying no without apologizing or feeling guilty or selfish.
  • Scheduling dedicated time to recharge, listen to music, exercise, etc.
  • Banning talks about COVID, political, or social outrage in the evening.
  • Mindfully restricting how much time you spend on social media.
  • Minimizing time with friends who push your buttons.

You’ve heard it before, start small.

Even if you have one situation that is making you crazy, it’s better to focus on a behavior or problem that is non-threatening so that you can become comfortable with the process of clearly communicating your needs.

Have the Conversation

When it’s time to implement your new boundary let your experience and comfort level guide you.

For example, rather than making a formal declaration out of the blue, one way to go about this is to time your conversation to coincide with the behavior or situation you want to change.

Let’s imagine that way back in March when everyone was scrambling to find toilet paper and figure out how to live in isolation, you volunteered to run errands and buy groceries for your elderly aunt.

Fast forward to October, you’re now busy trying to balance working 3 days a week from home and 2 in the office, while managing the kid’s remote learning, and still running errands and shopping for your aunt.

You never expected the pandemic would last this long, or that life would become so complicated, but it is and now it’s time to have a talk with your aunt about changing the arrangement.

First, get clear in your mind about exactly what you’re still willing to do. Then go into the conversation with kindness and clarity.

You might explain that you’ve been happy to help so far, that you thought life would have returned to normal by now, and it’s obvious that this won’t be happening any time soon.

And then you tell the truth. ʻI can’t be at my best at this level, so I need to cut back’, or ʻI need to take a month off,’ or whatever it is you really need.

You let your aunt know, without defensiveness, without guilt or apology that you want to help her come up with a different solution that works for her such as arranging for a service to deliver her groceries.

Use your own words, let her know you care, and will still be there for her, even if it can’t be in the same way.

Be Patient

Accept that this change will not happen overnight. The more you practice holding fast to your boundaries, the more love, respect, and support you will find in your life.

What if things don’t go well despite your best efforts?

Standing in your truth is hard, but it’s the key to becoming more resilient and building honest relationships. It’s also the key to creating healthy boundaries.

The Takeaway

A healthy relationship is one in which the boundaries are strong, yet flexible enough to allow you to embrace and thrive with your own uniqueness.

If we want others to be mindful and respectful of our boundaries during this prolonged period of disruption and uncertainty, we have to be respectful of theirs as well.

By choosing to set healthy compassionate boundaries that reflect your authentic self you balance respect for others with respect for yourself.

And the best part is it’s all up to you.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach, and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

Ready to Build a More Resilient Life?

Receive our awesome bonus guide FOCUS 2021 - Moving Forward, weekly Resilient Living newsletter and member only content!

I agree to have my personal information transfered to AWeber ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. (Cross my heart!) You can unsubscribe at any time.



Tags: , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.