In order to heal a dysfunctional boundary system, we must first identify where we fall short of healthy boundaries. Do we tend to be more open or walled off, overly contained or uncontained? A therapist who works with relational trauma can help you identify not only what it looks like when you lack boundaries but also what triggers the system to go awry. Behavioral, cognitive, mindfulness, somatic, and experiential therapies can all play a part in the recovery process, as each individual is unique in their trauma and healing process.
Different interventions may be helpful in different areas. For example, when we are working on containment, we may focus on a therapy approach that deals with regulating our emotions. This will strengthen our ability to rely on ourselves to calm down instead of talking nervously, being reactive, or relying on someone else. When working on protecting ourselves emotionally from others, we may again apply mindfulness—but this time in a way that re-centers us when someone else is upset, so we can practice not taking on too much responsibility for others’ feelings.
A healthy boundary system allows us to be flexible and adaptable to the world and to others. At the core of healthy boundaries is the knowledge that we protect ourselves because we know that we are worthy of protection. We can respect others’ rights because we can admit when we are wrong, because we have humility.
The balance of appropriate vulnerability and appropriate protection is essential to a happy existence, bringing us closer to alignment with our truth and distancing us from thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that don’t belong to us. Once we find that balance, we are more easily able to forge authentic connection with ourselves and with others.
Remember, because they are forged in childhood, our behaviors and defense mechanisms have been in place for years. Changing the system and structure of our boundaries will take time and requires practice, guidance, patience, and compassion.
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