What this means is that many of us are walking around without knowing that we are not really being relational with our partners or friends….we are just in reaction. Being relational requires that we use a boundary practice. I am not just talking about a physical boundary, I am talking about using a healthy internal boundary that protects and contains the self.
So when we have no protective boundary we can be porous and reactive to the information coming in. We are letting too much in. When we have a wall for a protective boundary we let nothing in and people experience as not caring. On the other end, when we are too open and reactive in the containing boundary we are unbridled and letting too much out which is offensive. And if we are using a wall for a containing boundary we are not letting anyone know us.
All of the above boundary states are ineffective in being relational. So, we are constantly in a state of reactivity to each other. What this ultimately means is our relationships are not about choosing to live in action; they are about being in reaction.
So, make a commitment today to start practicing healthy internal boundaries to improve you relationships!
For more information read “The Intimacy Factor” by Pia Mellody to learn about healthy boundaries.
Today I worked with a couple who has struggled with pervasive resentment in their relationship. After talking with the husband further, I figured out that he was very conflict avoidant and when he got into a disagreement with his wife, he would say “yes” to her about what she was upset. He was thinking this would be a good way to resolve the issue.
Believe it or not, this is absolutely the wrong thing to do as this strategy to resolve or as he put it “get her off my back” continued, he dug his way deeper into a hole. So as it turns out he said “yes” thinking she would be happy and then when he didn’t do this behavior in the future that he agreed to, he got yelled at more and looked like the unaccountable one.
So, in his frustration he says that he can’t win….that now he is resentful that he can’t ever be counted on. He has dug the hole deeper. Resentment is victim anger according to Pia Mellody. You can’t say “yes” to someone and then later on make up that you are being victimized.
After further investigation I asked him if he really meant to say “yes” to her. He said not really because he was afraid to say “no” and that she would punish him if he refused. I then explained that he was shooting himself in the foot and that he needed to be able to say “no” or he will show up in the relationship as the irresponsible one later.
So a simple rule is:
Make your “no” mean a “no” and your “yes” mean a “yes”.
Sounds simple and almost stupid however, it will save your relationship from toxic resentment build up and issues of unaccountablility.