Thank you to all who attended and participated yesterday. It was our best attended event to date! I was blown away by the energy, engagement and honesty in that room. Each of you played a role in creating a space where others felt safe enough to get real about their experiences, struggles, and feelings. Great work everyone!
As promised, I am going to post some follow up information here about more specific boundary styles, common boundary problems and some simple how-to's on how to start verbalizing boundaries in your own life.
One of our basic needs is for connection and relationship. Healing takes place in the context of relationships. Without a way to be clear and direct about who we are, what we need, and what we are and are not capable of, our relationships suffer. We feel unseen, unheard, taken advantage of, unsafe, disconnected, resentful, confused, and ultimately hopeless that we will ever understand how to make our relationships work.
We learned about boundaries very early on, from our families of origin. Growing up in environments where we did not have a voice (our “no” was not was respected, there was physical, emotional or sexual abuse, or maybe we had no safe space) would teach us certain things about yes and no.
Growing up, I was never taught how to identify my boundaries let alone communicate or enforce them. In my home no one had boundaries. I was never taught how to set a boundary, was never taught that I was allowed to have them and therefore never learned how to keep myself safe (emotionally or physically). This led to decades of violations of my physical, emotional and mental spaces in all kinds of relationships as I grew up. These violations did not magically end when I entered recovery. I did not know how to protect myself. I did not have a voice. I did not who I was, what I valued or how any of this was related.
WHICH TYPE ARE YOU?
Compliants: they melt into the needs and demands of others out of fear - usually of being abandoned - this mimics how it felt for them as a child. They have fear of someone’s anger, fear of being seen as selfish. They take on too much and usually feel taken advantage of. They are internally resentful, and afraid.
Avoidants: withdraw when they are in need, opening up is impossible. They have solid walls instead of a fence with a gate that breathes. Others experience them as impermeable. They experience their own needs as bad/ shameful.
**A combination of these two types looks like taking on the needs of others and never asking for what we need for ourselves.
Controllers: refuse to hear and accept the boundaries of others. They resist taking responsibility for their own lives, so they need to control others. No means maybe and maybe means yes to them.
run over others, use forceful language and tactics to get others to change their No to Yes
manipulate and use dishonesty to get others to change their No into a Yes
Compliants and Avoidants as Controllers:
manipulate others into meeting their needs. Will do a favor or something nice, hoping the other person will read their mind and return the gesture. Everything has a hidden price tag.
How do I set and maintain my boundaries?
Get clear about what you value
Once we understand the importance of what we are trying to protect, setting, communicating and maintaining boundaries becomes much easier.
Bonding first, boundaries second
We need to find safe places where we can practice setting boundaries and limits inside relationships where we are rooted and grounded in unconditional love (who is this person for you?)
Communicating a boundary
1st time: I will not tolerate/ allow/ accept/ or I do not appreciate etc - you speaking about women that way, talking about your diet, drinking/ using in front of me, driving that way, yelling at me, looking through my things. I would prefer you not do this around me anymore.
2nd time: say it again with a consequence (If you choose to continue ____, I will ____ )
3rd time: remind them of the boundary you set and enforce the consequence
*A note about consequences
In your control, direct, not punishing or manipulative, not passive aggressive, not harmful, something you are capable of following through with.
*A note about maintaining boundaries
Setting boundaries can come with some guilt, self-doubt, and lots of second- guessing. Sometimes others will react to us with anger or attempts to manipulate us in an attempt to get us to change our limits.
Having support from people that love us enough to hold us accountable for maintaining our values is really helpful. They can also provide reality checks when our thinking becomes distorted, when we lose perspective, and can provide validation/connection/ unconditional love to offset the guilt and self-doubt that creeps in.
Others who are safe and supportive provide a place for us to start practicing setting and maintaining boundaries.
** Who might these people be for you? How do you know they are your people?