Setting boundaries is one of the hardest things for people to do, especially people with trauma history. Many times, people do not feel that they can set boundaries as they want to do everything they can to make sure everyone else is okay and that everyone else is happy at the expense of their own feelings or needs or rights.
Also, the need to make other people okay or happy starts early, very early usually when people are still young children to win their parents love or attention. By the time most people realize that they are giving others everything and themselves nothing, the need to give up their needs and rights has become automatic. It is then very difficult to start setting those boundaries. It feels uncomfortable, even wrong. People react very badly to it. It is hard, very hard to do. But like anything else in life, it is repetition and reinforcement.
In order to start setting your boundaries you have to ask yourself what are your rights. What are your rights as a human being? The right to be respected as an individual, the right to make your own choices, the right to be find happiness for yourself, the right to manage your own life, the right to say no. Even these can be hard questions to answer for those who have not had boundaries most of their lives.
Start with one question that you answer, let’s say it is the right to make your own choices. Based on this, you then start making your own choices and then holding the line as you confront your own doubts that you can do it and the push back from others who are wondering why you are doing it now when you never have before. You will have to hold the line against opposition and against the negative thoughts in your own mind. And again, it is a daily, sometimes every minute repetition and reinforcement that this is your right and that it is okay for you to do it.
Most of the people who have known you a long time and have been able to treat you in certain ways all your life and have you respond to their needs and demands in certain ways all your life will not be happy that you are now setting these boundaries. They will in fact question why you are doing this. They will in fact look for reasons why so that they can blame this on someone or something else because you certainly cannot do this on your own. They will take it personally that you are not giving them what they want as you always have done and that it must because you don’t love them anymore. This will be your hardest task in holding the line.
Being healthy requires that you consider yourself, your needs, your rights, your emotions on the same level as you do for other people, maybe even more so. If you are not taking care of yourself helping others will drain you of your energy, your health, your emotions and there will be nothing left with which to support yourself. And as long as you are giving all to others they will continue to drain you dry and expect you to continue giving them what they need and want.
Define your rights. Be assertive. Learn to say no. Protect your space. Hold your line. By doing this you will find for yourself better self esteem, conserving your emotional energy, and be more independent. Hold your line.
Until next time,