Scrabble tiles to illustrate therapy for communication and boundaries
Scrabble tiles to illustrate therapy for communication and boundaries
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COMMUNICATION AND BOUNDARIES

Therapy for Communication and Boundaries in New York City

Therapy to Become Better at Communicating and Setting Boundaries
Didn’t We Learn This As Kids?

If you’re here, reading this right now, you’ve probably been in a situation recently where it seemed practically impossible to put your feelings into words.

Or maybe you knew exactly what you wanted to say, but the hard part was actually saying it in the moment to the person who needed to hear it. Maybe in that moment you felt pressure to say something, but it generally takes you a bit longer to figure out exactly how to word it.

And of course, you might not be sure why you’re here at all, but your girlfriend, family member, or friend recommended (or nudged you into) therapy.

Some people are great talkers, but still struggle to set the right kinds of boundaries. Think of how hard it can be to draw that line when your boss asks you to take on yet another project or a parent consistently oversteps their bounds.

You want to be respectful and certainly don’t want to offend them, but does that mean you always have to make a sacrifice in return?

Clearly, something isn’t working. When we’re unable to communicate honestly with others, it leaves us feeling disconnected, misunderstood, and alone. It also impacts the people we care about most–those who want to know what’s going on inside of us, but are instead left feeling confused, distant, or angry.

Resentment grows easily here.

Sure. As kids, most of us learned the fundamentals of communicating–the golden rule, using “I” statements, etc. So why is this so hard now that we’re adults? While so many people have trouble sharing their feelings, the reason is a little different for everyone. Part of the work we’ll do in therapy is uncovering why it’s hard for you.

Sometimes, we simply weren’t taught how to have real conversations about those things that make us feel raw and vulnerable. (These are also the conversations that allow for the most connection and repairing of conflict.) Many of us lack an accurate vocabulary to describe our specific emotions.

There are so many more layers to us beyond “I feel happy/sad/angry.”

How Gender Affects Communication

Men often have to deal with the expectations of masculinity around what they “can” and “cannot” say. And just because it’s not the 1950s and guys know on a logical level that they can talk about their feelings, that doesn’t mean they have the tools and space to actually do it. As we all know, when people try to push down their feelings and just “suck it up”, it leads to bottled-up emotions, strained relationships, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.

If you identify as a people-pleaser, you might notice it is especially difficult to say “no” for fear of disappointing somebody. Studies show that more women than men fall into this category. Women are largely socialized to be more passive, less aggressive, and to take care of others . Women are also more likely to be labeled high maintenance, bossy, or difficult. If you constantly say “yes” as a way to appease others, it undermines your ability to assert yourself and navigate conflict.

Why Boundaries Are Necessary

Part of honest communication with others is honest communication with yourself. That means setting appropriate boundaries to protect your emotional and mental space from being violated or exploited by others.

When you establish (and maintain) clear boundaries, you’re defining what is acceptable and what is not. This is valuable on two levels: 1) it safeguards your own wellbeing and 2) it reduces conflict with others and leads to healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

This is usually easier said than done. In the moment, it can seem unimaginable to push back against your manager, tell a friend you can’t do them a favor, or explain to your parents you don’t want to discuss your dating life with them. And even if you do tell them, sometimes they just don’t respect your boundaries. That’s when the real work begins.

Developing the Right Communication Skills

The first step in becoming a better communicator has nothing to do with others or what’s going on around you, but acknowledging what’s going on inside you. Focusing on communication issues in therapy can help you externalize those feelings, connect the dots between different emotions, and express yourself as you are. In other words, to be authentically you.

Communication isn't just about speaking, but actively listening to yourself and others. Practicing empathy with yourself and others. And fostering deeper connections and mutual understanding between yourself and others.

Ready to Start Therapy for Communication and Boundaries?

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