Updated: Apr 6, 2020
By: Logan Cohen, Professional Therapist & Online Life Coach
Creating “healthy boundaries” is the foundation for our mental health as Human Beings. We are VERY social mammals and with this, People have a STRONG need to be connected meaningfully with other People.
At the same time, Human Beings also require a certain degree of freedom to “do our own thing” and “be our own Person.”
It can be very difficult to find the right balance between these two spaces in Modern Society because our Lives tend to be SO full of different competing needs - the Job, the Lover, the Kids, the Friends - it’s no surprise that so many People have a hard time!
Even though it can be hard at times, the concept itself is quite simple and we want to make sure you know what is required for creating healthy boundaries in your most important relationships.
First, we need to define some basic concepts. Let’s talk about the phrase, “HEALTHY BOUNDARIES.” When People hear this phrase - especially in the context of relationships - the word “BOUNDARY” tends to be quite mis-leading, and even off-putting….
”If boundaries are so important to a relationship, then how will the two Parties be CONNECTED? Isn’t a BOUNDARY about DIVISION?”To answer that briefly - “NO!”
When we are creating healthy boundaries, this is about defining the rules of engagement so that each Party has a clear understanding of what they both need, so there is no excuse to resent the other Person and as a result, can PROTECT the connection in this relationship.
In this way, creating healthy boundaries sets an important relationship up for success because there is no space for unspoken tension to fester. The more People in a relationship actively engage in creating healthy boundaries - whether in a Family, Romantic Relationship, or a business - the more everyone can look out for interests of Self & Others at the SAME TIME. Does that sound like a relationship you would want to END? Us neither…
Second, let’s break down what it takes to engage in this process of creating healthy boundaries. We are a big fan of the old saying that, “If you can’t explain it simply, then you do not understand it well enough.” When it comes to creating healthy boundaries and the role these boundaries have in our relationships, this is an area that I have dedicated my Life’s Work to and look forward to breaking down in a simple explanation to make for some easy digestion.
As a seasoned & professionally Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, as well as a Clinical Supervisor for the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, this is something I have professionally had a LOT of practice with. When it comes down to it, creating healthy boundaries is about a sense of balance between our “Integrity” and our “Generosity.” Integrity is the term we use in the Balanced Man Plan to describe our own unique set of Core Values. These Core Values play a PIVOTAL role in our sense of Life’s Purpose and reflect what we need as a Person to know we are going to be OK while still being true to Self.
Examples of when this is OUT of balance is when People do things that “make us feel bad/unworthy/unappreciated.” When these unpleasant situations play out and People make choices that result in our feeling this way, this is a clear sign that our Integrity has not been met.
That “feeling in your gut” is also another sign from our Body that something is happening that does not meet our Integrity.
Generosity is about sharing our Integrity with other People. This usually looks like the sharing of resources between People who are in an important relationship with us. This FEELS GOOD because as social mammals, ALL Human Beings are literally PROGRAMMED to feel good about sharing with our Loved Ones, but ONLY when that sharing ALSO meets our sense of Personal Integrity.
This balance is characteristic of creating healthy boundaries because when in place, each Person is able to keep their OWN Personal Integrity intact, while STILL being Generous enough with Loved Ones to also respect their Personal Integrity as well.
When we do the work of creating healthy boundaries in our most important relationships, this balance between Generosity & Integrity keeps Self & Loved Ones safe from resentment creeping in and giving us good excuses to leave the current relationship in search of another relationship that seems “more fertile” for meeting the level of Personal Integrity needed to feel respected - while ALSO being a meaningful part of The Family.
Those times when we get “over-extended”, stuck in “People pleasing”, or even lose our temper at People to get them to BACK OFF - are ALL signs that we are being TOO GENEROUS, while NOT SPEAKING UP FOR OUR INTEGRITY.
When we put in the work of creating healthy boundaries in our most important relationships, this promotes ongoing connection between Loved Ones, also called Love & Belonging Needs. The importance of meeting these needs for Love & Belonging CANNOT be overstated when it comes to the optimal Health & Happiness of Human Beings. If you would like to watch a quick video explanation and have some visuals to go along with the explanation of these concepts, then check out this video below:
This gets even harder for Men & Boys. The rules of traditional manhood teach Boys that in order to “be a real Man,” he must be TOUGH, as evidenced by NEVER openly admitting vulnerable emotions like fear, insecurity, and sadness. In the same breath, Boys are taught that it’s OK to get ANGRY (maybe even a little happy), but those other Emotions - just keep those to yourself unless you want to get called "a sissy" or "sensitive." Over time, Boys learn that it is dangerous to our social influence/respect in the Community and/or Family when we do show vulnerable emotions because this is “acting like a Girl.”
When we put all of the above pieces together, the common result is Men who grow up to have a REALLY hard time accessing a FULL range of Emotional Intelligence and ESPECIALLY with those who “depend on us” (like Loved Ones) and without THIS, it is IMPOSSIBLE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT ACTUALLY MEETS OUR PERSONAL INTEGRITY AS HUMAN BEINGS. If you want to earn more about the role of Emotional Intelligence and learning to manage our anger, as well as express our thoughts and feelings clearly in a way that makes Loved Ones WANT to listen, click here for the full article.
Many Men struggle the most with learning how to ask for what we need and sometimes, even figuring out what the HECK that is to begin with! Modern Society is changing and evolving rapidly, yet the old expectations for Men from traditional manhood is still just a “training ground” for Hunters & Warriors. Those are certainly important roles , however having healthy & satisfying relationships in Modern Society requires People - even Men included - to learn how to take their Emotional Intelligence to “the next level.” If this is something you are interested in as you are working on creating healthy boundaries in your most important relationships, you can find our Self-Guided Coaching Plan for Balanced Emotional Intelligence here.
My name is Logan Cohen and I am a Professional Therapist & Online Life Coach with over 10 years in the field of Counseling Psychology. I am a Clinical Supervisor for the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, as well as the founder of New Leaf Counseling Group, LLC in Charlotte, NC. After spending tens of thousands of clinical hours with my own clients, starting a successful group practice, as well as a beautiful Family, I “picked my head up from the grindstone” to check in on childhood Friends & Loved Ones.
I painfully discovered that more than a few of my childhood Friends passed away at a young age from preventable health conditions and decided that as a Man, Husband, Father, and Friend, I could no longer stand by as People suffered in silence and self-destructed rather than ask for help. It doesn’t have to be like that and the holistic healing methods offered by the Balanced Man Plan is designed to help People “get unstuck” and break free from old patterns that are the barriers between Self & quality of Life.
The Balanced Man Plan is a therapeutic digital experience delivered through Self-Guided Coaching Plans created by a Male Therapist with the common barriers & strengths of Men in mind. The Balanced Man Plan has the goal of introducing a natural Balance back to Life so it is sustainable for the optimal Health & Well-Being of Self and Loved Ones - and ALL from the privacy and comfort of Home. If you have enjoyed what you see so far, check out our Self Guided Coaching Plans!