Building the Stage: Setting Boundaries

Have you ever thought about setting boundaries? Chances are, you probably haven’t. And that’s too bad because, for many of us, boundary issues affect our lives in more ways than we think. For me, I like to start out thinking about who is important to me and why. Friends. Family members. Those who matter. These are the people I like to think of as the “front row”. They give me strength and encouragement. Sometimes they make me laugh, and sometimes they share my pain. It’s these folks in the front row who help me to keep going in good times and bad. They are safe people in my life.

Take a moment and think about the people in your front row, your safe people. Who are they? How do they give to you? And why do they matter? Now think about how you demonstrate your gratitude to them. Sending cards or personalized notes can go a long way towards telling the people who matter to you exactly how you feel about them.

Unsafe people can be toxic. They take advantage. Maybe they encourage bad habits or are simply too negative to be around. And while it’s not always necessary to tell unsafe people how you feel, it’s important to recognize their negative influence on you. Personally, I limit my time with unsafe people. In my theater, they are the back row, far enough away from me so as to not be a direct influence. This is how I set my boundaries with them.

In between safe and unsafe are the “middle row” people. These people are co-workers or other acquaintances. Maybe you see them once in a while or have short hallway conversations at work. It’s important to set boundaries here, too. While it never hurts to be kind, it does hurt to overshare, so I try and be cautious with the middle row.

Now think about yourself. Do you consider yourself a safe or unsafe person for others? Safe people are kind and understanding. They don’t judge you, belittle you, or make you feel insecure about yourself. Safe people are positive without being disingenuous. What kind of person are you?

Always strive to be a safe person for others and, chances are, you’ll be in the front row every time.

Danny L. Ross is a certified school counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas with over 18 years of combined experience in teaching, school counseling, social services, and clinical counseling. Mr. Ross specializes in issues including child and adolescent, grief and complicated grief, anger, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, and family relationships. He is the owner-operator of DLR Counseling Group in Arlington, Texas.

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