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Say This to Enforce Your Boundaries

Dec 21, 2022

It would be nice if every confrontation ended positively and the other person realized their mistake. But unfortunately, that is not always the case. Confrontations can be difficult and sometimes the other person may not see things the same way. However, it is still important to confront hurtful behavior and try to resolve conflicts in a positive way.

Unfortunately, not all confrontations end positively and the other person may not always change their behavior. In these situations, it's important to remember that we can't force someone to change. We can only control our own actions and reactions. After establishing our personal boundaries, we may need to decide how to move forward and what steps to take to protect ourselves. This may involve setting limits, seeking outside help, or finding ways to cope with the situation.

If the person doesn't respond to the initial confrontation, we may need to take a stronger stand by giving them consequences. Consequences can be effective when talking alone is not enough. For example, if your spouse gets argumentative when you bring up an issue and continues to do so despite your requests, you can tell them that you will only talk to them when a counselor is present. This is a consequence that follows their behavior and may help to resolve the situation. Consequences should not be overly punitive, but simply a natural result of the behavior.

We are all familiar with natural consequences. These are things like:

If someone doesn't pay their bills on time, they may incur late fees or damage their credit score.
If someone doesn't take care of their health, they may develop health problems.
If someone doesn't study for a test, they may fail the test.
If someone doesn't follow the rules at work, they may get fired.
If someone doesn't maintain their car, it may break down.

Here are some things that you can say to allow natural consequences to do their part:

“I value talking to people, not being yelled at. I will be in the other room when you stop yelling and want to talk.”

“I have asked you to limit your drinking. When you don’t, I will ride home with someone else.”

“I do not associate with drugs. As long as you are not dealing with your problem, I won’t be seeing you.”

“I will not sleep with you as long as you are into pornography. I will not share myself with others, even in your mind.”

“Honesty is one of the most important things in any relationship. What happened the other day was not honest. I cannot go forward until we resolve that.”

“Kindness is an important value to me. What you did was mean, and it hurt. I do not allow myself to be treated like that. When you can see that what you did was wrong, let me know.”

“I desire feedback, not condemnation. What you gave me is not helpful. They were only put-downs. If you can be constructive in your criticism, I will be glad to listen. Do you understand?” If the person says “yes,” great; but if the person says “no,” say, “Then until you can say it nicely, please keep your thoughts to yourself.”

“Faithfulness is one of the most important things in a relationship. I will not tolerate being cheated on. You can leave until you figure out what you are going to do about making this right.”

If the person doesn't respond to confrontation and the issue is serious, you may need to bring other people into the conflict, such as through an intervention. This can help to increase the pressure on the person and make them see the problem. However, it's important to remember that we can't control another person's response to confrontation and the truth. All we can do is confront in love and offer consequences. If the person continues to refuse to change, it may be necessary to separate ourselves from them until they are willing to face the issue and change their harmful behavior. In any case, it's important to stand by our values and not participate in bad behavior. We should remain in the light and not be drawn into the darkness.

Get Dr. Cloud's free guide on how to deal with the toxic people in your life. 

Dr. Cloud can help you live the life you were meant to live!