Dr. Hawkins talks about the 2 most powerful tools for bringing about change in a relationship: Intervention and Boundaries. These 2 concepts are in and of themselves extremely effective for bringing about change, but when used together have an even more powerful effect.
How Intervention and Boundaries can Change a Relationship
Relationships can be a source of immense joy and fulfillment, but they can also be fraught with challenges and turmoil. In some cases, individuals find themselves trapped in toxic dynamics characterized by narcissistic and emotional abuse.
If you’re in such a situation, there are two concepts that are absolutely critical to consider and embrace in order to bring about positive change in your life: Intervention and Boundaries.
The Power of Intervention
An intervention is a disruptive step that you take—a rocking of the boat—an intervention into the status quo. It’s a declaration that the current way of living and interacting in the relationship will no longer suffice. It’s about saying, “I will no longer tolerate this.”
Intervention begins with conviction. It’s the unwavering belief that you deserve better and that change is not just desirable but necessary. This conviction is the catalyst for transformation.
The Breakdown that Leads to Breakthrough
Conviction often arises from a breakdown—a point at which you can no longer endure the emotional abuse, manipulation, or other toxic behaviors. This breakdown is the impetus for change. It signifies the end of the line for tolerating the intolerable.
Preparing for Resistance
It’s essential to understand that interventions are not typically met with open arms. Expect resistance. People who engage in abusive behaviors are often resistant to change. To navigate this resistance, you need a support system—friends, professionals, or anyone who can bolster your conviction, clarity, and courage.
Modifying Behavior and Emotional States
Intervention involves taking actions to modify your behavior and emotional responses. This modification is not about changing the other person; it’s about changing yourself and how you engage in the relationship.
When you embark on an intervention, you set non-negotiable boundaries. You declare that you will no longer tolerate specific actions, such as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, or being overpowered. These boundaries become the foundation for change.
Understanding the Limitations
It’s important to acknowledge that you can’t change another person directly. However, by changing your own responses and setting clear boundaries, you indirectly influence the dynamics of the relationship. An intervention is a bold step toward a healthier connection.
The Importance of Boundaries
A boundary is not just a line in the sand; it’s a declaration of what you will accept and what you won’t. It’s about drawing a clear line that separates acceptable behavior from unacceptable behavior.
Boundaries and Consequences
A boundary without consequences is merely a suggestion. To make your boundaries effective, you must establish consequences for crossing them. Consequences provide accountability and enforce the importance of these boundaries.
Crafting an Intervention Letter
As part of the intervention process, you may choose to create an intervention letter. This letter outlines precisely what must change in the relationship. It also articulates the consequences that will follow if the other person refuses to accept the invitation to change.
Preparing to Follow Through
Setting boundaries and consequences is not a bluff. It requires a commitment to follow through with your actions if the other person does not respect your boundaries. This commitment is fueled by conviction, clarity, and courage.
Emotionally Stepping Away
One potential consequence of boundary violations is emotional detachment. If someone consistently disrespects your boundaries, you must be prepared to distance yourself emotionally from that person. It’s a measure of self-preservation.
Embracing the Change
Knowing When You’re Ready
An intervention and setting boundaries are not for the faint of heart. You’re ready for these steps when you’ve reached a point of exasperation, when you can no longer endure the emotional abuse and manipulation that has characterized your relationship.
Embarking on an intervention and establishing boundaries can be a daunting task. Seek the support of friends, professionals, and organizations that specialize in narcissistic and emotional abuse. They can provide guidance, resources, and encouragement.
New Possibilities Await
While intervention and boundary-setting are challenging, they also offer the promise of a healthier, more fulfilling relationship. By taking these bold steps, you open the door to new possibilities, greater self-respect, and the potential for a more equitable and loving connection.
Ending narcissistic and emotional abuse requires the courage to embark on an intervention and the wisdom to set clear boundaries. These two concepts are not easy to implement, but they are tremendously exciting because they signify the possibility of a brighter, healthier future. If you find yourself trapped in a toxic relationship, remember that you don’t have to face it alone.
Seek support, embrace change, and reclaim your right to a relationship built on respect, empathy, and love. Our client care team is ready to help you through this challenging but transformative journey. New possibilities are right around the corner, and we want them for you—an opportunity to get healthy, be healthy, and invite health into your relationship.
Also read: Bringing Emotional Abuse Out of the Shadows
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more