Ali Pica

YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, ALI: How do I set healthy boundaries with others?

YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, ALI: How do I set healthy boundaries with others?
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“Healthy Boundaries” writes:

“I cannot count how many times I have been told that I needed to begin establishing boundaries with others. Granted, I used to have difficulty in this area, and the repercussions would range from uncomfortable to downright excruciating.

In the last few years, I have made a 180 degree turnaround and I no longer seem to struggle with this issue. My relationships and friendships are healthy, and I have discovered a newfound freedom in my life as a result.

My question to you is, “How do I begin to establish boundaries with the friends and relatives that are accustomed to my ‘old behavior’ without treating them in a manner that I would regret or having to ostracize them from my life completely?”

Dear “Healthy Boundaries,”

My first question is, “In the last few years, have you made new friendships?” My second question is, “If so, is it possible these new friends are more adept at maintaining healthy boundaries than your old friends and family members?” Finally, “If so, then how will you maintain healthy boundaries with people who have difficulty doing so?”

From what I understand, you are clearly making positive choices to improve your life, whether it is making new friends who maintain healthy boundaries, maintaining healthy boundaries yourself, or both. My best guess is both, which is a great start.

A solution to your problem may be to look to people in your life who maintain healthy boundaries and observe how they do so. For example, if you have difficulty saying no to someone who asked you if he or she can borrow money from you, and you cannot afford to lose money, think about what your friend Jamie, or whomever, would do. If you need a reminder, you can wear one of those cheesy neon “WWJD” bracelets, especially if your “healthy boundaries” friend’s name starts with the letter “J.” Just don’t hand out religious pamphlets; it won’t do your quest for healthy boundaries any good.

Lastly, when dealing with your old friends and family members, remind yourself how your life has improved by maintaining healthy boundaries. Know your limits. If you feel that your old friends and family are starting to take advantage, stand your ground as direct and politely as possible. Arguing will most likely get you nowhere but upset and frustrated. If these people in your life cannot deal with the new positive you, distance yourself or end the friendship. I know this is easier said than done, but once you allow yourself to be confident in and see the benefits of maintaining healthy boundaries, you will never want it any other way.

Best wishes,


Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Ali is an advice column that runs every Friday on NEPA Scene. E-mail your anonymous question to Ali here to be featured in a future column.