1.07 | Boundaries and Values

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Upholding our values and independence
Values.   A healthy relationship is sometimes described as an “inter-dependent” relationship of two “independent” people. Regardless of the type of relationship, we all come to it with values that we intend to honor and defend regardless of the nature of the relationship - these are known as core values or independent values - this is what defines us.  
We also have values that we are prepared to mold and adapt as we blend with the other person in the relationship - these become inter-dependent values - this is how we grow together.
Having a healthy relationship takes a great deal of self awareness and knowing:
which values are independent, core values to be upheld by us and defended (in a constructive way, of course), and
which values are more open for compromise or replacement based on our blending with and building a relationship with another person (partner, friend, relative).
Independent core values    Identify and live your personal values!  Independent core values determine our decisions and guide our lives. It's important that we stay true to them- they should be clearly reflected in the life choices we make.  Those who value their individuality take responsibility, are self-reliant and act with self-respect. Those who value truthfulness cannot bring themselves to tell a lie. Those who value family or friendship sacrifice their personal interests for the good of others. Those who value goodness cannot bring themselves to do something they know is wrong. We express values in our relations with other people when we are loyal, reliable, honest, generous, trusting, trustworthy, feel a sense of responsibility for family, friends, co-workers, our organization, community or country.
Be realistic    Being realistic about values is important. If we have an unusually large number of uncompromisable independent values / core values, we may be too dogmatic to have a relationship with very many people. At the same time, if we have so few independent values, or such a weak commitment to them, we will then be "undefined" to ourselves and to others. When that happens, the only values that matter are those of others. The latter is common in codependent or enmeshed relationships.

Boundaries    Boundaries are how we define our values to others.   A boundary is nothing more than the outer perimeters of our independent core values -  it's like a fence  - anything inside the boundary is consistent with our core values and anything outside the boundary is not.  For example, if your independent core value is "always to be respectful of others" a boundary question might be "would abruptly walking out of the room when someone says something offensive be inside or outside of your definition of this value?"  It's not always obvious - we all see things differently.  As you can quickly see, with values, we have a significant responsibility to lead, educate and inform others - we must walk the walk, have effective communication and be consistent.
There are three types of boundaries:
~ Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances.
~ Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions.
~ Emotional boundaries help us deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others.

Defending Boundaries   Even when we live our values responsibly,  we can still encounter boundary busting.
When this happens, we should first challenge ourselves.   Counter-intuitive, I know.  <1> Did we make choices that were inconsistent with our independent core values?  If so, which was wrong, the value or the choice?  :)o we need to change one?  <2> Have we been consistent in our actions and effective in our communications?  Or have we been sending a mixed message?  :)o we need to dedicate the time and effort to clean this up (this takes time)?
We also need to look at all the options(s) we have to available to us to help us navigate back and stay true to our value.  I use the plural form of option because just saying "no" and taking timeout is not enough. Yes, it helps greatly in the moment, but if we are in a value hostile environment, we need to look at all the ways we can address that.
 :light: Having values empowers us and motivates others.
I listen to the points of view of others and take them seriously
I treat everybody with respect
I am always supportive of family and friends
I am totally honest in all my dealings with others
... .and I expect that same.
 :light: Defending boundaries (without values) tends to be shallow, reactive, and confrontational
I will not tolerate you getting in my face (stated aggressively)
If you do things I don't like, I will respond by doing things that are equally distressing to you
You weren't there when I needed you, so I wasn't there when you need me

Workshop Objectives  The key discussion points around values / boundaries are:
Do I know which values are important to maintain my independence, autonomy, safety?Do I know which values need to be yielded and compromised in order to have a relationship?What are legitimate / fair values (vs selfish values)?Do I know how to set limits in a constructive loving way?How do I  know the tricks and traps? (what not to do)?How do I handle it if someone is upset or hurt by my values/boundaries?How do I reestablish a value that I failed to protect in the past?How do I respond when someone is trying to violate or test my value/boundaries?Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider defending boundaries?
Thanks in advance for your advice in this work

Setting Boundaries and Setting Limits

Read article here

I agree, Skip, values and defense are an essential part of a healthy relationship.  

I think what one person values another may not tolerate.  That is a compatibility issue.  I think in a normal relationship there have to be common core values.  Fidelity being one of them.  

Trouble comes when you come across someone who doesn't share or respect your core values.  That's when the boundary must be defined.  It's part of your personal beliefs, of who you are.  If you allow this boundary to be crossed, you are being unfaithful to your own values.  And if you allow your boundaries to be crossed on a continues basis just to keep a relationship alive, you lose a great part of yourself, and your self-respect in the process.  That's a pretty high price to pay, and very difficult to get back.

For some relationship, such as with those with BPD, those unspoken values must be defined and in some cases, taught.  Not in the heat of the moment, but when it can be discussed rationally and calmly.  You might want to ask them what their own values are, so you can work together.

I firmly believe that once someone knows your values and still continues to violate them at will, does not love you, respect you or is unable to have a relationship with you in a healthy way.  

I guess it is up to the individual as to how rigid to be in teaching and seeking compliance.  Some of us will be more tolerant than others.  

In my experience boundaries are crossed as a means of control.  Control and manipulation have no place in a healthy relationship.  Period.  Knowing when to walk away when your values have been trampled on is a very important part of having love and respect for yourself.  And in the end, the only person you are responsible for is yourself.  So be good to yourself!  You are worth it.

Values, boundaries, and boundary defense are a commitment to myself, not an attempt to force change or control another person.

An important aspect of "boundaries" is that it sometimes takes some effort to grasp is the idea that values are a commitment to myself  - not an attempt to force change or control another person.

The struggles of defending (setting) boundaries is often an issue that overlaps greatly with co-dependent tendencies or not having healthy relationship practices.  Many people with codependent tendencies lean toward "knowing" well what other people need to do, but struggle greatly to re-focus their attention onto themselves.  When the focus goes back on the self, some people struggle to know who they are, what they want, or to take responsibility for how to get it.

So, the quandary can be - "I want this, and I want it from/with a certain person".  What we want may be attainable in a relationship with the desired person, or it may not.  Part of being responsible for our own well being is accepting this.

Values/boundaries, in practice, is a statement about one's self.  So, if we consider the codependent tendency, early in the process of going from an unhealthy pattern to a healthy pattern - early in the process, we might tend to focus on the behavior of others as the solution (e.g. If so-and-so would do this,THEN I would be OK).  So early boundary defense attempts can look like "I'm going to do xyz so that my SO/parent will do this".  This is not living a value or defending a boundary.  Instead, it is really an attempt to control the behavior of another person.  The way to check this is to consider your motivation.  Are we, in our attempt to defend a boundary, trying to change the behavior of another, or just stating what we are willing to do/not do?  If we are trying to change another what we are doing is really an attempt to control or get what we not and this is not healthy.

Values/boundaries are about knowing who we are and what we will choose to participate in.  So, a boundary looks more like, "I will choose to participate in abc ... .I will not participate in xwy".  There is no statement in this "values/boundary" about what someone else needs to do, only about the self.  Boundaries require a sense of personal responsibility.  My well being is my responsibility, not the result of someone else's behavior.

Boundaries can be tricky to defend, especially with someone we've been in a patterned relationship with. Seeking feedback about our boundaries can be a great way to get new ideas for implementing boundaries.


Skip, I think the key to values and boundaries is communicating them when you are calm and not when you are angry. Indiscriminate "boundaries enforcement" set in anger is usually reversed, and the borderline gets the message that you don't mean what you say.  

Not sure which question this answers, but I think it addresses a few of them in a roundabout way.


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