Relationships are a beautiful thing but they can also be challenging. I love a cartoon that reads as follows: “Relationships: a mess worth making.” It very well illustrates how many times relationships can be messy or unhealthy.

The main cause of unhealthy relationships? Unhealthy boundaries. When talking about relationships we are talking about psychological boundaries. The dictionary defines a boundary as “Something that indicates a border or limit.” If we do not know what they are, we cannot respect others boundaries and cannot enforce our own.

Like a house or a country has boundaries, people have boundaries too. The basic rule to keep in mind is simple. I end where you begin and you end where I begin.

Depression, co-dependency, anxiety, and a many other conditions can improve by creating and respecting our and other’s personal boundaries. Here some steps for you to follow:

Learn to say “no”. It is ok to do things for others but like anything else in balance. Try to keep your needs in perspective as well.

Move step by step into intimacy. There are people that after 2 or 3 weeks of meeting someone feel they can totally trust the person and revealed the most intimate secrets right away. That can lead you to enmeshment or resentment if the other person does not do the same. A healthy relationship needs time. Pace yourself.

Learn who you are and what you want. Laura Stack says, “setting limits is a way of defining who you are and what you're all about, what you will do and what you won't; what's acceptable to you and what's not". It is ok to negotiate needs and be there for other people. The limit? Not all the time and not when it goes against your core values.

Be proactive. Feeling like a victim or a martyr is a sign of weak boundaries. Learn to deal with the consequences of your actions and decisions. And do not take as yours other’s people responsibilities.

Assert yourself. Communicate your needs clearly and directly. People aren’t mind readers. At the same time, if you ask for your needs and other people do not respond you need to take more extreme actions such as end the connection or remove yourself from the situation.

Remember all you can change is yourself. When you start thinking if such and such did or didn’t do “blank” everything would be fine, you are switching to rescue mood and setting yourself for failure and frustration. Start thinking, what you can do for yourself to either get what you need or to let go of the idea of convincing or changing the other person.

Become your own loving parent. Recognize and accept that your needs won’t always be met. Teach yourself to react as an adult while at the same time talking to yourself with gentleness, humor, love, and respect. If you don’t do it, nobody else will.

Author's Bio: 

I am a Bilingual (English & Spanish) Mental Health counselor psychotherapist offering face-to-face services in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and online counseling worldwide. I work with individuals, couples, and groups from different backgrounds and situations, helping them not only to solve their problems but also to have more fulfilling lives.

To learn more about Isabel visit Yourcounselorpsychotherapist-IsabelKirk>