New book offers practical advice on setting peaceful boundaries
Dave Jetson’s new book Setting True Bo limits is the kind of book everyone can benefit from. Life can be very complicated when we let other people run our lives for us, when we don’t learn to say no, when we spend our time worrying about the feelings of others or seeking to satisfy their desires, and when we spend all of our time on their own. needs or letting them mistreat and take advantage of us. Unfortunately, most of us learn the hard way that having no limits results in a messy and usually not very happy life.
Jetson begins this book by using an example of a basketball game that has no rules or limits. The result is chaos for everyone involved. Even fans have to move to the highest stands for safety. Without limits (the rules of the game), a game of basketball is really impossible.
The same is true of our lives. Without limits, nobody is happy. Even teenagers will tell you, as Jetson points out, that they want their parents to set limits so that it is clear what is expected of them and that they feel safe knowing what the rules are.
However, setting limits is not easy. Jetson knows that many people fear setting limits because they don’t want to upset other people. However, while setting limits creates some initial discomfort, it benefits everyone involved in the long run.
Jetson first explains what the true limits are. They have three components: limits, consequences, and consistent enforcement and monitoring. It provides numerous examples to explain these components, dedicating a chapter to each one. We see how boundary setting improves marriages, improves parent-child relationships, and even helps the workplace run smoothly.
Jetson also explains what limits are not. Too often, people try to set limits but fail because they don’t understand the three components of limit setting. They mistake a threat or an ultimatum for a limit, or just set a limit without providing a consequence or following through. For example, a parent can set a limit by telling a child that if they forget to bring their homework to school again, they will have to get a zero instead of the parent bringing it to school. However, if the parent brings homework to school the next time the child forgets it, the child will not learn to respect boundaries.
Jetson explains that people often overreact when setting limits, and they do so to punish rather than create a limit that everyone can benefit from. We have to show respect to the person with whom we are setting the boundary. We cannot control someone with a limit, but we can give that person a choice. As Jetson explains, “When you create true limits, you are not controlling others or their behavior. You are allowing them to choose the positive or negative consequence for the behavior they choose to act on.”
It’s also important to be emotionally neutral when setting limits. Jetson says this emotional neutrality is often called “loving detachment.” For example, when someone violates a limit, the one who sets the limit chooses not to take the action personally and does not comply with the consequences in a punitive way depending on his emotional state. For example, if reacting from an emotional state, a parent can send the following message to a child: “If I’m in a bad mood, I might punish you; if I’m in a good mood, I might not.” Instead, if a limit is set correctly, then the consequences have been specified and can be carried out without emotion. As Jetson says, “The one who sets the limits may feel some sadness or pain if the other person does not respect a limit and yet the deep emotions are not triggered or increased.
In addition to showing us how to set actual limits, Jetson looks at why we’ve had trouble setting limits in the past. Talk about topics ranging from fear to manipulation to codependency. Codependency is ultimately the underlying problem in all boundary-setting problems. Jetson describes codependency as “a false belief that we should put other people’s emotions, needs and desires before our own. We have some resentment about this, and we continue to act as if our own feelings and needs are secondary because we have been taught that we don’t matter. ” In addition, he clarifies: “Believing that we have to live life in such a way that we do not disturb anyone is actually another way of describing codependency.” By learning to set true limits, we can begin to break the cycle of codependency that often afflicts our families.
Parents will especially appreciate the examples Jetson includes of how children can learn to set limits with other adults and with other children, including their siblings. The example you offer of a student being bullied by a teacher is one that teaches true respect for the people involved in the situation and will show children how to be assertive rather than being bullied by others.
Each chapter of Setting True Limits ends with exercise questions to help readers examine their own relationships where limits may need to be set, and then practice what they have learned by setting those limits.
Setting true limits is a phenomenal guide to creating better relationships with everyone in your life. I know this because I have used many of the techniques in this book myself as a codependent in recovery. My life is calmer, happier, more productive, and more relaxing as a result of setting limits; therefore, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is time for you to enjoy a peaceful life and also meaningful relationships.