Everyone I know has trouble setting healthy boundaries, myself included!
It’s easy to think about how hard it is to set boundaries with the challenging people in your life. What we sometimes forget, is how important it is to set healthy boundaries with ourselves. So that’s what I’m going to be sharing with you today.*
Whether you realize it or not, you have a relationship with yourself. It may be caring and kind, harsh and critical, or neglectful and seemingly non-existent.
Part of your relationship with yourself includes setting boundaries with yourself…and it can be confusing at times.
Boundary Confusion with Myself
When I’m confused about what I’m responsible for and what God and others are responsible for I may think…
- If I am needy, I am bad
- It is up to others to meet my needs
- It is selfish for me to have wants, needs and dreams
- If I love, I should be loved in return
- I can let some parts of my life go, and it will turn out okay
- I can say anything I want, and others should understand and not be upset
TRUTH: Needs are created by God. Needs are good, and not having them met is painful. If I love, I may be loved in return. If I am not being loved in a certain relationship, I can invest in other friendship relationships. I can decide if I want to stay in a relationship or not (literally and/or emotionally). My life is my responsibility.
Setting Boundaries with Yourself
It is important to take ownership of your life, including your heart, mind, emotions, time, talents, work and maturing of your character.
When I take ownership of my life, I decide:
- What I will do and will not do
- To take care of myself
- To give without resentment
- To nurture my relationship with God
- To take responsibility for myself and my own growth
When I take ownership of my life, I become more deeply concerned about my own issues than with the issues of the person I’m struggling with. I try to:
- Not give into my temptation to focus on what the other person is doing wrong
- Look at my own need to mature and grow
- Help myself grow, even when the person I’m in relationship isn’t taking steps to grow
Two major areas in which we need to set boundary with ourselves in relationships:
Our own character
This includes the habits we struggle with, and the ways we get out of control. Ouch! No one wants to hear this, but there is hope here. Regardless of what the other person is doing, we can focus on our own growth. We can work on our tendency to:
- Deny or rationalize our failures or part in the problem
- Avoid conflict rather than working problems through (if possible)
- Want someone else to take responsibility
- Only see only our point of view when hurting
- Be critical and negative toward others. Love cannot grow in a climate of fear
Our attempts to control others – we do this in a variety of ways.
- Persistent assault on other person’s boundaries
- Withholding Love
Ways you can help yourself set limits on your tendency to control others:
- Ask your spouse, friend or another to let you know how your control affects him/her
- Let yourself feel your own helplessness to change the other person
- Learn to grieve what you can’t have and embrace the good that is there
- Increase your support from self, God and others
- “Hang onto yourself” when someone brings up a concern – say to yourself, “This is hard. I care about this person and our relationship. I’ll be ok…breathe. I may have some things to change, but I’m doing a lot right too”
- Give freedom to the other person to be different from you
- Set boundaries with the other person, rather than controlling him/her
Just as in all relationships, boundaries are easier to set when you have a loving and connecting relationship with yourself. For help to build a positive relationship with yourself, check out my book, Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend.
I hope this has given you some new ideas to think about regarding setting boundaries with yourself.
I’d love to hear from you. What made sense or stood out to you? When is it hardest to set a boundary with yourself? How have you seen yourself grow in this area?
Please share this post with anyone you feel could benefit, or on social media. We’re in this together…
*Some of this information based on information shared in Secrets of Your Family Tree, by Carder, et all)