Setting boundaries

February 5, 2012 Sandra Dawes

Creating boundaries – it sounds like something you would hear in a therapy session or read about in a self-help book, but what does it really mean?  For me, it means being self-aware, able to know and express to others what is acceptable in my life.  This has not been an easy feat for me by any means!  For the longest time the word “no” was simply not in my vocabulary.  I was a chronic people pleaser who had no idea who I was or what I wanted.

I now realize that my desire to please the world was deeply rooted in low self-esteem and self-confidence.  It wasn’t until I really started to work on myself that I realized I needed to learn how to love and respect myself.  I was tired of playing victim and no longer desired to be anyone’s doormat.  I finally figured out that if I wanted people to treat me better, I had to treat myself better!

Setting boundaries is crucial to achieving balance in our lives.  Without establishing boundaries, we are left to the whims of the people in our lives.  We are unable to ensure our own needs are met because we are too wrapped up in the lives of our friends and family.  We are described as reliable, dependable, old faithful – but what does all that really mean?  It means we’re the “go-to” person who never says no, regardless of how imposing the request is – it means we have no boundaries.

I finally got to a point in my life where I had to ask if this martyrdom was really worth it.  I became aware of my increased feelings or resentment.  I was growing tired of feeling put out and taken advantage of.  Because of my saviour complex I was unwilling to ask for help – I believed I existed to help, not be helped, but I was at a point where I was burning out emotionally and physically.

It wasn’t a nice place to be, and I became bitter.  Of course, for the people around us, the shift from accommodating to aggravated is an unexpected, unwelcomed surprise.  I was beyond rationally explaining my feelings and became the Queen of passive aggressive behaviour!  Not a very productive solution to the problem, but one I was, unfortunately, very familiar with.  Finally growing tired of constant arguments and emotional outbursts, I had to move to a new level of understanding.

I finally realized the importance of creating boundaries.  It gives us permission to put ourselves first.  Boundaries allow us to say no when we are asked to do something that we don’t want to do without feeling guilty.  When we know where that imaginary line in the sand is, we can make time for the things that are important to us and not waste time doing things that don’t contribute to our well being.

Life has been so much easier now that I’ve given myself permission to establish boundaries in my life.  For example, it has allowed me to reconnect with my love of reading as well as writing!  It isn’t always easy to say no, I still have moments of guilt, but I am reminded that I need to be true to myself at all times if I want to live a balanced, peaceful life.  I no long want to carry around a mental balance sheet of favours given and owed to me.  I want to give of myself in an honest way, with no expectations, and if I can’t do that, then it is best I don’t give at all.  That doesn’t mean I will stop doing for others of giving of myself – it just means I have decided that rather than acting from a place of need and expectation, I will act from a place of love and abundance. ♥

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