Archive for October 12th, 2007

Winding Plant (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Setting boundaries is a very important and powerful positive coping tool. When I entered into therapy, my therapist told me that practicing setting boundaries was my homework every single week. Until you learn how to set boundaries, you will not feel safe, nor will you feel like you have a voice. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is to begin setting boundaries in your life.

What do I mean by setting boundaries? You need to decide what you are willing to give to others and what you are not and then stick to the boundaries that you set. A more succinct way of saying this is to practice saying no.

I used to be a doormat. I could not say no to people, and so some people would take advantage of this. I felt guilty if I said no, even when the request was unreasonable. It took me lots of practice to feel comfortable saying no. Now I have gotten pretty good at it. :0)

I used to believe that I did not have the right to say no, particularly to family members. I spent a lot of time feeling bitter about the things that I “had to do” for others that I did not want to do. I failed to see that I was the person choosing to do these things. Just because another person asks does not mean that I have to do it. This concept was eye opening to me.

What finally helped me set and enforce boundaries was looking at the practice in a different way. Each time that I allow another person to step over my boundaries, I am choosing to hurt myself rather than hurt another person’s feelings. Considering that the other person was often unreasonable in his request, it really was ridiculous for me to be hurt rather that hurt the feelings of someone who was taking advantage of me.

By setting boundaries, I weeded out the people who were using me from those who truly cared. Those who truly cared about me were proud of me for setting boundaries while the users got angry.

As I became better about setting boundaries, I redefined the relationships in my life. The good ones got stronger while the dysfunctional ones grew weaker. I was able to feel safe because I knew how to stand up for myself.

Related Topic:

Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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