Setting Boundaries: The Fifth Step to Creating a loving “I-Thou” Relationship

In working with the clients in my practice who are either in unfulfilling relationships or alone, I have discovered the steps they need to take and what they need to know and to find that perfect mate for them.

The Fifth Step in learning how to create a loving, committed relationship is to understand the importance of setting boundaries. What exactly is a boundary in psychological terms? A boundary tells us and the world where we begin and end. It defines who, what and where we are, just as a country’s boundaries encapsulate the unique qualities of that particular entity.

Before we go on to more about the Fifth Step, here are the first four steps:

  • The First Step to creating a loving “I-Thou” relationship is to recognize that we are complete and whole unto ourselves.
  • The Second Step to finding your soul mate and a happy, fulfilling, committed relationship is to understand your Family of Origin.
  • The Third Step to creating a loving “I-Thou” relationship is to become acutely aware of how we feel.
  • The Fourth Step to finding a happy, fulfilling, committed relationship is to understand that it is a wounded inner child which has never healed that goes out into the world looking for love, acceptance and companionship.

Have you ever really taken the time to question your belief system, your needs as a person whether in or out of a relationship? Are you comfortable being with yourself or do you need another person to define and complete you? Remember “The Runaway Bride,” that lovely movie with Julia Roberts? She could only set her boundaries by literally running away from her groom as she walked down the aisle. At least she knew that her life with that particular groom wasn’t right for her. But did she really know why she fled and what was unidentified and unexpressed in her own self which compelled her to run? Too bad she caused so many broken hearts and confusion, but she saved herself and her groom a marriage based on lies and pretense.

So why do some people really glow with self-confidence and sureness about where they stand in the world? Why do they draw others toward them with that special light that inspires others? Why are their personal relationships so positive, life affirming, safe and inspiring?  Why do their partners fit them like the fingers of two hands coming together to form a perfect connection? If they weren’t blessed with the perfect parents who modeled self-esteem, a solid sense of their ego identity, serenity, a faith in the positive aspects of this life, how did they learn to shine their light?

They did a personal inventory of their lives, realizing that something big was amiss and needed attention. They found a skilled therapist and committed themselves to healing that hurting wounded child who too often controlled their thoughts, feelings and actions. If that wounded inner child had been so traumatized by the “crazy” antics of their family of origin, they had no idea how they existed as a free-thinking calm, wise person in the world. Do you know where you begin and end? If someone does not respect your person, do you know how to stop it and draw a line in the sand? Do you know how to say “no”? Do you swallow your feelings, afraid to voice your opinions and just acquiesce to whomever?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have been traumatized by your family of origin or other experiences and need to learn to let yourself and the world know where you begin and end…in other words, set your boundaries.

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