It is a good idea to have boundaries. How much are you willing to give? How much are you willing to allow? When someone is pushing you for an emotional response, how much is too much? I have been pondering this a lot lately, as I am on the hunt for things in my life that prevent, delay or hurt my ability to achieve my goals in life.
First up, boundaries are good. I should not feel guilty or bad about having boundaries with people. It is ok for me to say that certain topics are off limits, or that I just will not discuss them or perhaps only discuss them up to a point, and I can define what that point is. This is ok, and perfectly acceptable. No one should feel guilty about this. Here is why. You are not super human, the emotional reaction you get from certain people, and/or certain topics can and will completely derail your forward progress. You could be doing great when all of a sudden, you are caught in the cross hairs of a person who knows the buttons to push that completely set you off. There you are, your whole day ruined and all progress stymied because you let that person drag you into a conversation. For this reason boundaries are good.
Here is the problem, however, how do you enforce the boundary? I, in my passive aggressive nature, will avoid conflict instead of dealing with it. I will choose to set a boundary and then not let the other people know about it. I think this is good, because I do not want to have a conflict about it. Consequently the other party has no idea that I have set this boundary and they either think that I am avoiding them or that something is seriously wrong with me. Which causes them to probe even more and then I am in full time avoidance mode. So this always backfires.
I think the better is just simply telling people no. Then in a very clear and distinct way inform the person that you have established a boundary, that you have the right to do so, and that you are not going to allow that boundary to be crossed. I am ok with talking to you about all these things, but that particular topic we are just not going to discuss. This way, the boundary is clear. If they choose to violate that boundary, then you can walk away with a clean and guilt free conscious. No more avoiding required. I have also learned that taking the blame is the best approach. Sort of like this, I am sorry but I am unable to discuss that topic with you. I have a challenge, that causes me to get side tracked when I get to emotionally involved with that topic, so I am just not going to go there with you. Understand? This changes the game. You are admitting weakness, but with a very firm and solid No. This give you power, yet at the same time exposing weakness. It is a great way to disarm a potential adversary.
I think it is a clear sign of mental health to be able to clearly identify trigger points, setup very clear boundaries and then be able to articulate that to others. If you are able to do this, you are more likely to keep your commitments to yourself. Lets face it, an emotionally charged situation does have a physical effect on you.