Healthy Boundaries with Family- Relationships

Hello Blog Readers!

Don’t we all want to have relationships with family members that include trust, unconditional love, and acceptance? Do you wish you could be vulnerable with family members without the risk of being criticized or devalued? I think many of us want that but don’t have it because our family members have their own issues.

I have a client who communicates regularly with her Mom, but frequently feels bad after their conversations. Her Mom is very critical of her work, partner, and her eating habits. Her Mom follows a very strict diet and tends to be very judgmental of those who don’t. This client also has friends that only call during a crisis but don’t reciprocate. She is always there for friends in need but her friends frequently don’t have time to talk when she’s having issues.

A coach that understands how to develop healthy boundaries with family can help with these types of issues. We did an exercise where she listed the people in her life that she communicates with regularly and then put them into different categories. The first category was people in her life that she trusted completely and felt like she could say anything to. That included her husband, her close friends, and me her life coach. The second group was friends that she could talk to but wasn’t comfortable being completely vulnerable with. The third group was family members that could be toxic and critical but that she wanted to maintain contact with. Her Mom and her friend that was always in crisis made that list.

Then we discussed whether all these people in her life added value to her life. If they didn’t then why work to maintain a relationship that wasn’t good for everyone involved? She recognized that there was value in all these relationships but that she could be vulnerable with anyone but her close friends. She also decided that she needed to limit the conversation topics with her Mom and difficult friends to avoid feeling like she “wasn’t enough.” This was a deep hurt that came from a lifetime of criticism from her mom. By avoiding topics like food and relationships with her Mom she was able to have a relationship with her, without feeling bad about her life decisions. She also had a talk with her friend that was always in crisis. Her friend agreed that she wasn’t being a good friend herself, and should do better.

This client now knows how to manage relationships in her life without feeling like she’s “not enough.” She’s a bright, kind, educated human, and I remind her of that every coaching session. She is enough, and she always was.

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