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How Do I Create Better Boundaries? Part 1

Hannah Hopper, LPC, NCC 

I work with many clients who have been talking about having better boundaries in their life. For some, they have started noticing the need for better boundaries in relationships since having more time at home for reflection; others are noticing the need for better boundaries now that the holiday season is here and more family relationships have come to mind. And some people are noticing a need for different boundaries with their partner now that more time is spent together at home. Whatever boundaries you’re hoping to create in your life, my hope is that this blog will help in your journey of tuning in to your needs and finding a greater sense of empowerment in your relationships as you do so.   

  1. Notice what you need

When you start to notice yourself getting annoyed with someone, pulling back from time you used to spend together, or even feeling exhausted after you’ve spent time with this person, it could be a sign that you’re in need of some boundaries in that relationship. Two signs that can indicate our boundaries are breached include feelings of resentment and discomfort. Another way to notice a need for boundaries is through finding yourself saying things like “if I could just get more time away from them…” or “if they only knew the way they frustrate me…” 

  1. Pay attention to your feelings

We can be prone to dismiss our feelings or to even to ignore them if they’re feelings that we’ve felt towards someone for most of our life. When it comes to family, it can be especially hard to recognize the need for boundaries since these boundaries may have been pushed or even broken since we were young and we view the relationship dynamic as normal. 

  1. Name what’s happening

When you start to feel resentment or discomfort with someone, think of a scale from one to ten. How strong are your feelings? Six to ten is in the higher range and could indicate some boundaries are being crossed. During time spent around this person, ask yourself, what is causing these feelings? What is it about this interaction, or what this person expects of me that’s creating this frustration? The more specific you can be in identifying what is bothering you, the more you’ll be able to identify what you need. Resentment can build up when we feel taken advantage of or unappreciated. Usually this is a sign that we’re pushing ourselves past our limits out of guilt (wanting to be a good wife, mother, daughter etc.) or someone else is placing their values or expectations on us. 

  1. Get support for your boundaries

Boundaries can be hard to put in place, particularly if feelings of guilt come up when you begin seeing a need for them. Find support from friends, family members, counseling, or a support group that can help you to recognize the pattern of feelings when your boundaries are being pushed. You can even prioritize boundary setting with family and friends and hold each other accountable for these changes.  

Being able to identify a need for boundaries and then putting those boundaries in place are key factors in having successful relationships. Symmetry Counseling in Chicago has several therapists that specialize in relationships and helping people set the boundaries they need.  If you’re ready to take that first step and schedule a session, you can browse our therapist bios to find someone that is the right fit for you. You can also contact Symmetry Counseling today by calling 312-578-9990 to get matched with one of our therapists. 


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