By Lisa Caplan
It is perfectly okay to feel angry, sad, disappointed, frustrated, etc. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s discuss how to develop healthy emotional boundaries. So, what is an emotional boundary? Think of it this way, boundaries put space between where you end and someone else begins. The only way to do this is to develop emotional boundaries by distinguishing your emotions from others’ emotions. Healthy emotional boundaries are vital to having and enjoying healthy relationships, and to avoiding dysfunctional relationships. Having a healthy relationship involves two people who have a clear understanding of who they are separate from the relationship. As much as you want someone to be happy, you are not responsible for his or her happiness. Also, having an expectation of being happy all the time is not realistic, not healthy, and is also exhausting. Expecting to be responsible for making others happy by denying your own wants and needs is also not healthy.
As you learn to set boundaries you will see how boundaries help build your self esteem, confidence, assertiveness and, yes, healthy relationships. Developing emotional boundaries requires the ability to separate your emotions from someone else’s. For example, if a significant other is upset, this does not mean you need to take this on as your responsibility, be upset too, or try to make them happy. To be an emotionally healthy adult means gaining emotional separation from others, which involves recognizing and taking responsibility for your own feelings, and being able to express them openly and honestly. This will help you take responsibility for how you feel and what you experience, and you will seek out healthy relationships rather than unhealthy ones.
In order to develop emotional boundaries, you need to be able to:
For assistance, please contact the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling. We have a network of counselors throughout Maryland. Jim Quinn, Director, (443) 703-3041, email@example.com; Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, Associate Director, (443) 703-3042, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C has over 20 years experience in her field, and extensive experience working with lawyers and judges in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and trauma.