This is a difficult subject to discuss because there is a very fine line between judgement and accountability. Judgement brings us down, and separates us from each other, while accountability lifts us up and allows us to lift each other up as well.
Let’s be really clear here, you cannot tell someone who to be or how to live, but you can teach people how to treat you, or even what behavior is acceptable in your presence – or in your family.
Every Family Has Certain Boundaries
Most of us never think about it, but chances are, your family has certain unspoken boundaries that everyone abides by. For example, in most families, it is unacceptable to use violence to solve problems. Everyone in the family knows this and agrees to this standard, and if someone does cross the line, they would likely be held accountable for their actions and reminded, “We don’t treat each other like this, and it is not okay to use your fists to solve problems.”
“No violence” is a clear family boundary, but emotional, mental and even energetic abuse go on in many families and no one pays attention because there are no clear or set boundaries. When family boundaries aren’t understood and agreed upon, bad behavior is often brushed over or completely ignored. This is the making of that “yucky energy” in families that no one can quite put their finger on, but everyone feels.
What if bad behavior was no longer condoned in your family? What if it wasn’t acceptable to blame, judge, criticize, complain or spew negative energy in any way? What if everyone in the family was required to be responsible with their words and actions? What would this do for you – and for your family?
We are talking about a higher level of emotional responsibility. We are talking about emotional maturity, where everyone is responsible for their own energy, and behavior.
When we speak about setting family boundaries, we are really talking about establishing and enforcing values such as respect, kindness, understanding, acceptance, harmony and peace. When you understand and agree upon values as a family, deciding on boundaries or new expectations becomes easy. The boundaries should always support the values.
So, how do you do this?
Optimally, it is best to come together as a family and create new family policies. In other words, decide as a family what behaviors are no longer acceptable – and everyone should agree, and be clear, about the new standards. The family should also decide on how to handle it when someone crosses these new family boundaries. Maybe there is an agreed upon consequence, such as doing all the dishes for a week.
It might be too much to ask for a family overhaul, but you can begin with one new boundary at a time. When considering bringing higher standards into your family dynamic. That’s the way to heal your family.
Here are some pivotal boundaries to explore:
No Blaming Others (for Our Feelings)
When we blame someone for hurting us emotionally or making us mad, we give away our power, making ourselves the victim. No one is ever making us feel anything.
When others blame us for their feelings, and we accept that blame, we become entangled in their energy and this creates all sorts of relationship issues. You are responsible for your behavior but you are not responsible for anyone’s feelings, nor are they responsible for yours.