I have a confession to make – it was not that long ago that I had no clue how to set boundaries. I stumbled through my life and relationships being clueless. Looking back on those many years, it certainly did not serve me well at all. Today I am a champion at setting boundaries with outer and being very straightforward with my expectations. It was not an easy road but being a door mat for so many years was no easy either. I slowly realizes the I was allowing others to teat me poorly because I had very low self esteem. I was overwhelmed with life and everything seems too hard. I did not want to rock the boat. I was a people pleaser. The narcissists in my life loved my obedience and passive responses to their demands.
Becoming a parent made me realize that I was a role model to my child and I was setting a very poor example. Soon, my child treated me poorly just like his father. So it was time to take my head out of the sand and put my big girl shorts on and get real.
The first thing you need to know about setting boundaries is that PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO LIKE THEM OR YOU WHEN YOU DO THIS. It was so shocking when I first started setting boundaries and the anger I received. People get used to treating you a certain way and when you change your response to them it will not be pretty. There will be times when you will have to sever or curtail a relationship because they refuse to acknowledge your boundaries. Since I was dealing with Narcissists there were few options available.
We are all entitled to have and set boundaries in relationships and when it becomes evident that your boundaries are not being respected or honored you have to make a tough choice. Limiting contact or going no contact is not a fun decision but your self worth and self esteem is worth the pain of the loss of the relationship.
I began my boundary setting with a two letter word which was NO. No I don’t want to do what you want me to do. No I have changed my mind about that situation. No I don’t want to participate in that event with you. I never said the word no before to anyone and the first hundred times it was so painful and scary but knew I had to keep trying. I knew eventually I would become comfortable with this word and things would change in my life as a result.
I was very uncomfortable for a long period of time and just like an unused muscle I kept at it and I got stronger each time I exercised the No word. Soon it became evident that I was getting stronger and the old assumptions about my passive behavior began to vanish and I found my voice.
Giving up relationships because of the lack of respect of your boundaries was painful for me. I could not understand why my boundaries were not being respected. Once I got clear in my mind what was acceptable behavior in the relationship and what was not, the choice became clear to me.
Now I receive compliments all the time about my boundary setting skills and the strength I have gained.
This is such a critical skill to have in any relationship and I encourage everyone step back and look at how you are being treated in your relationships and see if you need to start setting boundaries.
At the same time you need to look at how you are treating yourself as well. Are you making yourself a priority or are you last on the list? Self care goes a long way with increased self esteem and self confidence.
My experience may sound extreme but when dealing with Narcissists, the need for boundary setting is very necessary and the reactions from them can (and usually are) extreme as well.
As a result of my boundary setting journey, I feel very empowered now when I am called to set boundaries. My awareness of them and how critical they are has changed my life and my relationships – all for the positive. I am no longer the door mat and I feel in control of my emotions and relationships. This was not an overnight process but a gradual one and as they say – Awareness is the first step.
I am here to support you and encourage you to take the first step into your journey of healthy relationships and the true experience of empowerment. If you can relate to my story of feeling like a doorman and need help learning how to set boundaries, I am here for you.
With love and positivity,