Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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Building Healthy Boundaries

The Thriving Essentials Series: Episode 5

Healthy boundaries help cultivate meaningful relationships, and meaningful relationships are vital for thriving.

Last week, we began exploring a vital topic: boundaries. Nowadays, boundaries are a common word and effusive thing most of us think is a good idea to have. But have you ever wondered what the key benefit of a personal boundary is? As you read this question, you might think: The benefit and reason for having personal boundaries is to protect myself.
Sure, in many instances, boundaries provide self-protection, but beyond protecting oneself, boundaries also meet a vital need: Healthy boundaries help cultivate meaningful relationships. How so? You ask!

Healthy boundaries respect self and others.

To better grasp this, let us consider an immigration scenario: Imagine if you decided to take a road trip to a neighboring country. Once you arrived at the border, you noticed that when travelers made their way to the immigration officer, they were handcuffed and thrown into a holding cell before the officer reviewed their documents. Thirty to sixty minutes later, after the officer took the time to examine the travelers’ documents, the travelers were released. – And either granted or denied entry.

Most of us would be befuddled and likely not attempt to visit a country with such a process. – We might even conclude that such a practice weaponizes a boundary by treating foreigners as criminals.
Unfortunately, we sometimes use this approach to enforce personal boundaries when cultivating relationships. – This may look like requiring others to jump thirty hoops, including many unrealistic ones before we let them in. Fishing for information and negative press, we may also contact every mutual friend and use the powers of the internet to create our personal validation system of background checks, reference checks, and potentially credit checks.

Breaking it down like this sounds comical, but such behavior transforms a boundary into a weapon. However, healthy boundaries are more akin to uniforms than weapons: Healthy boundaries let others know what we stand for and subscribe to. – They do not scare or aggressively push others away.

Healthy boundaries do not alienate others or lead to isolation.

Have you ever felt pushed away by another, only for the person to contact you and state that they did not intend to push you away? I bet many of us have experienced this or behaved in such a manner towards others. As such situations are not rare, it is worth contemplating what leads to this.
Could it be that we confuse negotiating with losing? And intent on winning, we decide to state our boundaries and stand our ground, leaving no room for discussion, much less negotiation. Such communication takes the option of The Best Offer off the table and emotes the famous words: Final Offer! But isn’t cultivating healthy relationships about negotiating? – Thai or Italian for dinner? Meet at 4 pm or 4:30 pm? Paint an accent wall in the study or not? Indeed, the skill of negotiation is a vital life skill. While a non-negotiable approach is necessary in some circumstances, relationships thrive on understanding, communication, and grace. Therefore, adopting the final offer approach as the go-to approach creates emotional distance in a relationship and weakens the bond.

Certainly, enforcing a healthy boundary in a relationship is not as cut and dry as issuing an edict where we present a staunch ultimatum, declaring what we will tolerate and not tolerate. In strong relationships, healthy boundaries are set and communicated through a discussion. – A discussion that allows both to share perspectives, feel heard, and know they matter. – This is vital because when we know we matter to another, we feel safe to open our hearts, listen, and hear them.
As we lead our lives during the beautiful spring season of revitalization, here is something to ponder: What are your boundaries, and how do they enable you to cultivate meaningful relationships?

Have a great week!

For you and to you,

Image credits: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio



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