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Friends Who Criticize & Disregard Your Boundaries

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Boundaries are like fences you put up to create a clear understanding of what it acceptable and what is not. When your friends criticize and disregard your boundaries, they do not show you or your limits proper respect. To define your boundaries, it is necessary to communicate your limits in clear terms with identifiable consequences if your friends don’t respect your boundaries.

You Need Boundaries

Everyone needs healthy boundaries to be emotionally and physically healthy, according to licensed psychotherapist Terri Cole in her article, “How to Create Healthy Boundaries” on her Positively Positive website. Establish a boundary when you realize that something someone does makes you feel very uncomfortable or threatened. Ask what makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened. Perhaps your friend is trying to coerce you into doing something you feel is wrong or unhealthy. You have the right to let your friend know you aren’t going to do what you feel is wrong and that you don’t like it when she ridicules you, according to "Psychology Today" article, “Developing Healthy Boundaries.”

Define Your Boundaries

You have the right to determine what is right or wrong for you, writes licensed social worker, Karen Kleiman in the article, “10 Tips for Setting Boundaries and Feeling Better.” You might say, “I have the right to decide what is right for me, and that is not” or simply, “I’m not going to do that!” The statement describes your boundary. You can also say, “You may not tell me what’s right for me! I decide that.”

Analyzing Critical Comments

When your friends criticize you, sometimes it is on the mark, and at other times, it's wrong. Ask yourself if anything your friend said was true or not, according to the article, “Begin to Set Personal Boundaries” on Oprah.com. Think about what was said and decide if what your friend said was more about your friend that about you. For example: “You never let me have any fun” or “You’re such a party pooper.” If you refuse to do things that your friend wants to do because they are wrong, then the critical statements are more about your friend than about you. Finally, decide how you can take a stand and make your boundary clear, such as, saying, “I refuse to do things that I feel are wrong.”

Setting Consequences

When friends criticize you for having boundaries and refusing to cross them, it can hurt. If you don’t enforce your boundaries, your friends will decide that your boundaries are meaningless. Let your friend know it isn’t all right to make fun of you or to bully you into doing what is wrong. Provide consequences for leaping over or trampling your boundaries. You could say, “If you continue to make fun of me for insisting on doing the right thing, I won’t spend time with you.” Make sure your consequences describe what you will do, because you are the only person’s whose actions you control.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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