A lot of us, Survivors that is, can have poor skills when setting boundaries. This piece has been written especially to help people who struggle with this issue. People like me, the author of this piece!
Being abused doesn’t automatically lead to having issues with poor boundaries, others events such as experiencing a chaotic upbringing; ‘poor’ or neglectful parenting; a lack of structure in your early years; through learned negative behaviour when you were younger.
What I mean by negative learned behaviour is the behaviour that we observed or were taught to copy by those people that abused us, bullied us and caused us physical and emotional harm. It’s a conditioned response to a stimulus through either voluntary or involuntary intent, e.g. if crying results in more physical pain, then our mind and body learns and reacts in a way that benefits us the best… we do not to cry.
So what are boundaries? When do we say no and when do we say yes? Is saying no a sign of selfishness or a sign of strength? Is saying yes a sign of weakness and being taken for a mug or a sign of generosity and compassion? Do we need boundaries?
The first thing I’ll say is of course we need boundaries! Think about this… where did the lack of boundaries get us before and where does it continue to get us? I’ll tell you where… into situations and circumstances we would rather not be in, going totally against what we believe in and the very personal principles we hold dear to ourselves! That’s where.
We have a voice. We have the right to be heard and to have an opinion. We have the right to decide what is acceptable to us and what isn’t. We also have the right to change our minds at any given time and change it back if we want, even change it again. You get my point? We are no longer victims.
We need and deserve to have a set of personal boundaries that we have chosen. On the contrary to our own and others past beliefs negative opinion, we are worth it!
See if you can identify with this list of attitudes or behaviours related to shattered boundary syndrome, if so its time for change:
- Saying Yes when you really mean No.
- Going against your personal values or beliefs in order to please others.
- Disregarding your feelings.
- Accepting advances, touches and sex you don’t want.
- People invading your personal space and doing nothing about it.
- Not speaking up when you’re treated poorly (from a major hardship to being served cold food in a kebab house).
- Letting others define you or label you and you accepting of it, regardless.
- Instantly falling in love with some one you barely know and/or met on the internet.
- Giving as much as you can for the sake of giving and pleasing others.
- Never saying or scared to say No.
- Feeling bad or guilty when you actually do say No.
All these things can’t make for a well rounded happy person. Think back, where did these attitudes and behaviours get us in the past?
We need to set boundaries to communicate our worth. Setting boundaries can be difficult when your self esteem is on the floor and you feel that you’re worth nothing. We need to try and get ourselves out of this mindset.
Boundaries equal freedom and happiness for ourselves, making us easier and nicer to be around, more attractive to others. We need to establish boundaries to live a happy and fulfilled life. With boundaries comes confidence, higher self esteem, assertiveness, healthy relationships, strength and growth, success and most importantly… With a good set of boundaries in place, your not going to be taken advantage of!
Here are some tips around boundary setting:
- When you identify a need to set a boundary, do it clearly without anger and as few a words as possible so you don’t twist yourself up.
- Its ok to explain why your setting the boundary, but don’t think you have to justify yourself.
- Be prepared to follow through on the boundary you laid down with an action or it means nothing. It’s like a hollow threat.
- You’re not responsible for other people’s feelings, as long as you have said what you have said respectfully, It’s not your problem. You’re the most important person setting your boundaries.Learn to say No. Practice in the mirror, on market researchers (if they annoy you as much as they annoy me).
- Communicate your feelings with others so they know were you stand, don’t bottle things up. Let people know were you’re at and don’t be afraid.
As we know its not enough just setting boundaries, it is necessary to enforce them and hold onto them. Look where it got us last time.