How to Navigate Colliding Boundaries in Relationships: Part 2

In this podcast (episode #456) and blog, I talk about how to manage and heal your boundaries when they collide in relationships. This is part 2 of this podcast series. If you haven’t listened to part 1 yet, you can do so here

As I mentioned last week, a great way to manage colliding boundaries is through mind management. I recommend using the Neurocycle process to do this, which I discuss in detail in my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle. The Neurocycle is a way to harness your thinking power, which I have developed and researched over the past three decades. The cycle has 5 steps: gather awareness, reflect, write, recheck, and active reach.

Below are 3 great Neurocycles you can do to manage colliding boundaries and improve your relationships: 

I. The Communication Neurocycle:

Boundaries are about communication. They require clarity with not only others but also yourself. 

Boundaries are also a social commitment. They have a give and take component. In any relationship, there will be things you must give up and there will be things you must take.

To navigate these commitments and maintain clarity in your relationships, it is best to think about communicating your boundaries through self-reflection using the Neurocycle. Below is a basic example of how to do this:

1. Gather Awareness: Think of a situation with a loved one that is a possible cause of tension in your relationship. How has this played out in the past? How has this made you feel or changed your perspective?

2. Reflect: How has this affected your mental wellbeing and relationships? Ask yourself as many questions as possible, such as 

-Why does this affect me in this way?

-What boundary do I feel is being crossed?

-Am I perhaps crossing that person’s boundary?

 3. Write down your reflections to help organize your thinking.

4. Recheck: Think about what your thoughts and feelings are trying to tell you. What are they signaling to in your life? Look for clues in your writing, then start to reconceptualize the way you are thinking. Ask yourself questions like:

- How can I communicate how I feel in a way that helps improve this relationship?

-What boundary do I need to communicate? And what boundary do I need to respect?

-How do I promote a back and forth dialogue in my relationship with this person? And how can I do this in a way that improves our connection? 

5. Active reach: this is a thought or action you need to practice daily to help you reconceptualize what you thought about in the previous step. For example, you can say something like, “Can we talk about this? I know there are things I do that bother you, and I would love to hear what I can do to respect your boundaries and improve our relationship.” Then, once you have acknowledged they have boundaries, work on communicating how you feel and the boundary you feel you need and why. “I” statements are better than accusations, so try focus on why you need the boundary, and communicate this calmly and clearly, while also giving the other person a chance to speak.

These kinds of conversations can be hard, but they are worth it! If things get tense, take a break and do some decompression exercises like deep breathing and stretching before continuing. It is okay to take a little mental health break when needed—just let the other person know what you are doing and what you need instead of just walking away.

Remember, when you find that the boundaries between you and another person you have a relationship with seem to be colliding, one of the most crucial steps is to communicate! Let them know:

  • The reasons for your boundaries and what needs they fulfill
  • Why these boundaries are important to you
  • That you want to respect their boundaries too, in the same way you want your own boundaries to be respected. 

II. The Balance Neurocycle

In the self-reflection Neurocycle I discussed in part 1 and the communication Neurocycle, you gain data. With this information in hand, you can focus on working out how to balance your boundaries within your relationships.

1. Gather awareness: do you feel like your boundaries are balanced and lead to a balanced relationship? How do your boundaries make you feel about yourself and your relationship? Have they changed your behavior or perspective and improved your relationship in a good way?

2. Reflect: Ask yourself whether the “giving and taking” your boundary requires is fair for both people in the relationship.

Essentially, you will find that the self-reflection Neurocycle in part 1 can help you find the words to describe your own boundaries in clear and effective ways. In the communication Neurocycle, you will gain insight into the values you and your loved one put in the relationship, why you both need what you need, and how to communicate this. In this balanceNeurocycle, once you have communicated your needs and acknowledged the other person’s needs, you can begin trying to find a solution that involves giving and taking on both your parts, which can resolve your colliding boundaries with little or no resentment.

3. Write down your reflections to help organize your thinking.

4. Recheck: Remember that finding balance will take practice. So, in this recheck step, you may think you have found a solution that works, which sooner or later will need some adjustments. This is part of the “give and take” of a relationship, and a great invitation to work these adjustments out with your loved one and improve your relationship. 

5. Active reach: What's the action you are both going to take to respect each other’s boundaries? For example, you could write down your new, adjusted boundaries and discuss how you will respect these.

III. The Trust Neurocycle

These Neurocycles lead to the final step, which is trust. These next 5 steps should be done together.

1. Gather awareness: what are your emotional and physical feelings associated with this adjusted boundary? Has it changed your behavior or perspective? Has it improved your relationship? Are you willing to trust each other going forward?

2. Reflect: together, based on what you discussed in step 1, talk about: 

- What need the adjusted boundary is meeting in your life.

- Whether the boundary has improved your wellbeing and relationship.

3. Write down your reflections to help organize your thinking. You can share this with your partner if you feel comfortable—reading how you each feel will help improve your ability to trust the other person. 

4. Recheck: What's your plan to maintain this newfound sense of trust and companionship?

5. Active reach: What's the action you are both going to take to maintain this sense of trust and respect each other’s boundaries?

When you show that you can be trusted through your words and actions, you and your loved one can move forward confidently, knowing that it is possible to work through colliding boundaries in the future. The great news is that the more we practice managing colliding boundaries in a relationship, the more of a healthy habit it becomes, and the more our relationship grows! 

Yes, this can be challenging, and it does take work. When we want someone in our lives, we can’t expect them to change everything for us and do nothing for them. On the same note, we can’t change everything for them while they give us nothing. Relationships require more than demanding our own way; they are characterized by the desire for mutual change and mutual respect. 

For more on managing colliding boundaries, listen to my podcast (episode #456). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).   

You can now also join me on Patreon for exclusive, ad-free content! Sign up for a membership level that suits you, and receive access to ad-free exclusive bonus podcasts!      

My latest ad-free podcasts on Patreon include:    

Podcast 455: The best "stress fitness” routine to help you better metabolize stress and promote healthier emotional responses 

Podcast 454: What to do when boundaries collide in relationships (Part 1)

Podcast 453: Is there a cure for intrusive thoughts? 

This podcast is sponsored by:

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Podcast Highlights

1:40 How to use mind management & the Neurocycle to manage colliding boundaries 

3:00 The Communication Neurocycle for colliding boundaries 

11:00 The Balance Neurocycle for colliding boundaries 

20:15 The Trust Neurocycle for colliding boundaries 

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.

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