“B” Day!

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Hello and Welcome To My Blog!  My name is Lauren Cartwright, MS, LCPC.  I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois.  My primary work over the past 20-plus years has been with clients diagnosed with Serious Mental Illness and Substance Abuse.  I am currently in private practice working with clients with such issues as anxiety, depression, grief/bereavement and or relationship issues.  Please view my profile and schedule a free 15-minute consultation to discuss the  issues we can address in therapy. 

This blog is dedicated to mental health concepts.  Every two weeks, I will take a mental health term or concept that corresponds with the letter of the alphabet.  I will give my thoughts and insight on that concept in hopes that it can be something helpful and inspiring to you.  The first post was “A” day, so today is “B” day!  The concept today I will be discussing is……boundaries!

A boundary, by definition, is a real or imagined line that separates two things.  It has also been defined as a limit of a subject or a sphere of activity.  This concept is the same as it applies to mental health.  A boundary is a limit that we place to separate ourselves from other things; it distinguishes things that are inside and things that are outside.  There are physical boundaries and there are emotional boundaries.  Some examples of emotional boundaries can be saying no to requests made of us that we are not comfortable with, choosing not to disclose personal information and limiting contact in order to avoid intense emotional connections.  Some examples of physical boundaries could be simply asking for personal space, staying 6 feet away from others or asking others not to touch us.   

Why are boundaries important?  Establishing boundaries are important because it is one of the ways we protect ourselves.  It is a form of self-care.  It is the way we advocate for ourselves.  It indicates to other people “how far they can go with us.”  It gives integrity and voice to our needs.  It helps us to get to know ourselves, our likes vs. dislikes, our wants vs. needs.  What we accept from our relationships.  What we accept from ourselves.  It gives us greater self-awareness.

One mistake we sometimes make in establishing boundaries is that we establish boundaries in a negative emotion, such as anger or hurt, once a boundary has been crossed.  The beauty of establishing boundaries is that we do not have to be upset to do it.   Establishing boundaries is something we should do because it is a form of self-protection; it does not have to reactive (doing something after another thing occurs- a reaction) .  It can be proactive (doing something before anything occurs, with effort to avoid it) .  It is better to identify and establish the line before someone crosses it-it might even prevent them from crossing it altogether.    It is the difference between establishing the limits of a conversation before the conversation begins vs.  having a discussion about what offended you in a conversation that has already occurred.  

There are unhealthy and healthy boundaries.  A quick test of unhealthy vs. healthy boundaries is answering the question, “is it doing what is supposed to do?”  Healthy boundaries keeps the things out that need to be kept out (negative things) and keeps things in that need to be kept in (positive things).  If the opposite occurs, that is an unhealthy boundary-keeping positive things out and negative things in.   We have to identify what those positive and negative things are for ourselves.  Positive things can be our vulnerabilities, things that need to protected, or exposed with time and comfort.  Negative things to keep out are things that can be harmful to us.  These can be constant and some can be dynamic, or ever changing.

Do you have difficulty establishing boundaries, or do you think your boundaries are too firmly set?  You can always see a therapist if you think you need help with boundaries or other areas in your life you face difficulty with.  Please visit my profile and schedule a free 15-minute consultation if you want to discuss boundaries or any of the other issues listed in my profile.  Please take care and have a blessed day!  See you in two weeks! 

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