Setting Effective Boundaries


Stabilizing The Psyche

The purpose of the Integration Zone is to stabilize our system, build effective boundaries, protect our psyche from psychological and emotional exploitation, and guard our energies from being drained by others. In the Integration Zone, we consolidate our strength, develop our self-worth, and focus on building a positive future.

As we enter the Integration Zone, our first task is to establish healthy and effective boundaries. We create effective boundaries when we construct a psychological “line in the sand” that allows us to maintain our wholeness and protect our sense of self. In effect, effective boundaries are similar to a “Do Not Enter” sign, a warning of what will happen if you trespass. One of the boundaries by which I live has six words: Abuse me, and you lose me.

The Big Stick

Effective boundaries allows us to be kind, decent, pleasant, and thoughtful most of the time, but when conditions warrant, effective boundaries will prod us to have some sting to our voice and a measure of bite to our bark. Teddy Roosevelt put this idea in very succinct language when he said, “Speak softly but carry a big stick.”

What Won’t Save You

Being nice all the time will not save us from being exploited or abused. A bully usually picks on someone nice and meek who won’t offer much resistance or fight back. That’s what makes him a bully. He instinctively knows that the nice, meek person doesn’t have good boundaries and is too afraid to stand up for himself. However, when we are whole and in our power, we will be able to establish healthy boundaries that allow us to calibrate our responses to other people’s behavior. We will be nice and decent when people are decent to us. When people are abusive or manipulative to us, we will modulate our response accordingly. Instead of being nice and compliant, we will be firm and formidable. A strong boundary requires a strong backbone to defend it.

Imbedding Shame

We should never permit anyone to abuse us. Suffering ongoing abuse destroys our self-esteem and wounds us deeply. Once the shame of being abused is imbedded into our system, it will draw more shaming experiences into our life. If we are to be free of toxic shame in the future, it is important to set clear boundaries and stand up for ourselves.