Here is a little fact you might find interesting…..for the great majority of my life I have been boundary-less It has only been in the last few years that I came to that realization and truly understood the impact living without healthy boundaries has had on my life. Perhaps my lack of boundaries contributed to my lack of self concept or self-image. I was never taught boundaries, in fact I was taught quite the opposite. My worldview for most of my life meant doing anything and everything I could possibly think of to keep the people who were around me happy. That was it. I actually took on ownership of everyone else’s happiness, at the expense of my own. It sounds so truly absurd now, but in fact I never gave my own sense of well being or purpose a second thought. It never occurred to me that I was responsible only for myself and my own thoughts,feelings, and beliefs. My distorted view of my own reality was an enormously heavy self-imposed weight to bear. And a very damaging weight at that.
After many years of introspection and therapy, I finally got the message. This major AHA moment created a huge shift in all areas of my life. Finally relieved of the burden of caring for everyone else’s emotional state, I was able to peel apart the layers that made up my own true self. Like a well varnished piece of antique furniture, I had many layers to go through before getting down to the true core. Once there, I started in on the process of refinishing myself in a way that felt authentic and made ME feel good. This is still very much a work in progress.
With the holidays now upon us, I find my newly learned skills being put to the test with enormous frequency and pressure. Holidays are supposed to represent family, love, sharing, and community spirit of giving. But when you have taught all of the people in your life that you have no boundaries and will do whatever is necessary to keep the peace, well the holidays look downright terrifying and are filled with confusion, tension, and many many tears.
One of the hallmarks of setting healthy personal boundaries is the ability to communicate with others assertively. I have been accused of passive-aggressive communication efforts more than once in my life. Learning to assert yourself is not easy. As a matter of fact it is downright hard some days. But the great thing is, there is always another opportunity to practice this skill right around the corner. Learning to set healthy boundaries is scary and uncomfortable and goes against the very grain of survival skills that allowed me to endure an abusive, traumatic past. But my past does not equal my future, and in order to thrive and become the healthy happy person I was born to be…..I need to set healthy boundaries.
Well, turkey day is now a thing of the past and I am happy to report that I made it through without compromising my values or self worth. I know that more challenges are on the horizon, and old habits can be hard to break, but I am committed to the journey. For those of you reading that identify with my journey, I offer a few well written articles on the importance of healthy boundaries. For those of you who have set and managed well defined boundaries, I ask you to share your wisdom with the rest of us. Allowing our true self to emerge, grow, and flourish is the life’s work all of us have been given. Let’s help each other through this.
- Drawing a line in the sand (spreadinformation.wordpress.com)
- How to Take Back Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries (lifehack.org)