Say to YES yourself: Setting Healthy Boundaries
You set a boundary with an individual. Perhaps you tell them you cannot loan them money. You cannot attend their event. You won’t assume financial responsibility for them. You tell them you won’t hang out if they are using drugs or alcohol. You let them know you won’t tolerate lying or cheating. You won’t drive them to work everyday anymore. You need them to move out.
If you grew up in a family system or culture that reinforces self-sacrifice over self-care, setting strong boundaries may trigger guilt and keep you ruminating about the effect of your boundary on the other person. In some families, boundaries are viewed as unloving, unkind, disconnection and disrespectful. They may even view your saying “no” as toxic. Because in some families, being close means being enmeshed; which may include thinking, feeling and acting the same as everyone else.
Some people will react when you set a boundary. They may push against them, challenging you to give in to your guilt or shame. Some people experience boundaries as rejection or even toxic. But their reactions to robust boundaries reflect the internalized wounds of their upbringing and do not represent an honest reflection of your authentic needs. And that may require an internal paradigm shift for you.
Sustaining a healthy flow of giving and receiving nurtures our well-being and the health of our relationships. It is not selfish to set a boundary. When we say “no” to what is unhealthy, we affirm our authority over our inner and external resources and empower others do to the same.
To set a healthy boundary be direct with warmth and compassion. Empathize with the other individual who may not understand your needs or know how to accept your boundary as a healthy choice. But do not let your care for their feelings override your needs. An example may be: “I am unable to attend your event and I hear that you are disappointed. I appreciate that you will miss me and I understand. I will be thinking of you all.” Be clear and appreciate their position, without giving in to their pleas to your to deny your needs. Don’t explain your boundary. Name it directly while offering empathy for their feeling-response.
If the individual does not respect your boundary, after you’ve been direct and followed through: it may be time to remove yourself from that relationship completely.
When you deny your own needs and consistently put other’s needs before your own, you end up feeling drained and eventually resentful. You may start getting physically ill. You may not realize why you are so exhausted, frustrated or angry until you pull your power back from people-pleasing into authentic self-care and respect for yourself and all concerned.
Boundary setting may require the breaking of a family or cultural contract to go along with what isn’t healthy at your own expense. Breathe through your feelings of guilt and resentment, as you choose a new, healthy behavior. Compassionately witness your thoughts and tend to your emotions, while remaining aware of why your boundary is important to your well-being.
Establishing healthy boundaries s a skill that you can develop with practice. At first, you will need to face the emotions arising that stir guilt, doubt and fear. Doing so, empowers you to give yourself what you have always needed. It heals the past and sets the tone for healthy relationships. It allows you to become the hero or heroine of your life. Setting healthy boundaries is your divine right and responsibility. Say “YES” to yourself because YOU ARE WORTH IT!