The Consensus Circle - Why We Need to Create Healthy Boundaries
It was one of my first clients who introduced me to the Consensus Circle as a way of describing healthy boundaries. Many of us battle to define our own healthy boundaries and it requires understanding ourselves and one’s needs to be able to create healthy boundaries.
The Consensus Circle is the circle you create for yourself, with you being in the center of your circle. Your circle determines how much physical and emotional space you will allow between yourself and others.
Read on to discover who you allow in your Consensus Circle and who sits outside. Find out what to expect when you have poor boundaries and what the benefits of healthy boundaries are.
Who Do You Allow in Your Consensus Circle?
Within the circle with you, are those people who you love, trust and know that they have your best interest at heart. Those in the circle with you empower you and build you up. In other words, they serve you in a positive light.
It's vital to ensure you have a lot of “breathing space” in this circle and that your boundary line of the circle does not close in on you (e.g. by being too rigid).
When you find yourself lonely and isolated, you know you're being too rigid with your boundaries. Allow yourself enough physical and emotional space so that you may expand rather than become constricted. To do this, you need to have a strong sense of who you are.
When you know who you are and what you want from life, you can be clear about the people you allow into your life. You'll also have a better sense of who should not be in your circle and at times, nowhere near your circle!
Who Sits Outside of Your Consensus Circle?
Just outside your circle are those people that you have identified as people you will tolerate, on your terms. These are the people who you're willing to associate with and can appreciate their roles in your life without letting them invade your own personal space in a detrimental manner.
Co-workers often fall in this perimeter!
Further away from your circle, are those people who do not serve you positively. These are the negative people, the naysayers, the critical and judgemental people that you have identified as harmful to your own personal development.
Why is it Important to Create Healthy Boundaries?
Creating healthy boundaries is all about self-care. It's crucial for one’s mental health and well-being. We know when we haven’t created healthy boundaries when we find ourselves questioning our own identity or become completely entangled with someone else.
Not only do we need to protect ourselves mentally and emotionally but also physically. When someone stands too close to you, uninvited, that person is showing no respect for your personal space. By stepping back, you're sending a non-verbal message to that person to respect your boundary.
If that person chooses not to recognize the non-verbal message, you may be required to verbally ask them to step back. By doing this, you're being responsible for your own personal space and clearly stating your boundaries.
Read Anne Katherine's book, "Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin - How to Recognize and Set Healthy Boundaries" to help you establish healthy boundaries for yourself.
What to Expect When You Have Poor Boundaries
Resentment, anger, and irritation are emotions that are often triggered when you have poor boundaries. Remember: healthy boundaries are just as important in the workspace as they are in your own personal space.
Many people suffer from burnout when they have not applied healthy boundaries in their workspace (and in their personal space). The more you allow a co-worker to make too many demands on your time or emotions, the more resentful and angrier you get.
What to Expect When You Have Healthy Boundaries
By establishing healthy boundaries, you can expect the following:
Healthy boundaries reflect what you will be responsible for and what you won't be responsible for.
Healthy boundaries allow you to decide what and who you are willing to tolerate and not tolerate.
The type of boundaries you create determines whether you have healthy or unhealthy relationships.
By clearly creating your own Consensus Circle, you're allowing yourself to:
Establish who you are. By creating healthy boundaries, you're learning to define who you are.
Say no nicely. By being assertive, respectively, you can decide whether you want to say no or yes in situations that demand it.
Understand that your needs, thoughts, and feelings are separate from others.
Have self-respect. By taking responsibility for yourself and for the decisions you make, you're being respectful towards yourself.
Be empowered to make the right choices for YOU.
Live out the dreams, goals, and plans you've made for yourself.
Watch Brene Brown talk about boundaries.
What I Do to Create a Consensus Circle
I find journaling in my daily journal helps me to understand who triggered any of my emotions throughout the day. I analyze my own emotions to fully appreciate what is happening within myself. If I decide that person doesn't serve me positively, I then visualize moving them outside of my Consensus Circle.
I love this Leather Journal with Lined Pages - Sun & Moon Leather Bound Writing Journal for writing in daily accounts of your emotions, events, frustrations, and happiness. Writing with a beautiful pen goes a long way to enjoying the journaling experience. How beautiful is this Retro Feather Pen Set?
Sometimes, I meditate and visualize my own boundaries. Once again, this helps me to identify those people who I trust, love, and want to have in my safe space. The ones I will tolerate sit on the outer periphery.
I love this Florensi Meditation Cushion which looks so comfortable for sitting on while meditating.
I also lookout for signs of when I'm isolating myself. This is not a healthy situation to be in and it means I've shrunk my Consensus Circle! The current pandemic is creating a lot of very tight, restricting Consensus Circles!
While we're being forced to close our ranks, we should seek out other ways of interacting such as Zoom or Skype calls and participating in online workshops with other participants. You get to choose who you want in your circle even if they're virtual.
Setting boundaries is vital to your own mental, emotional, and physical health. Strong boundaries help you to have balance in your lives, self-respect, and healthy relationships.
If you're battling with creating your own healthy boundaries, spend some time reflecting on all areas of your life and identify what can be changed/removed/introduced so that your Consensus Circle serves you in the best possible way.