On my blog entry entitled Being Willing to Try New Strategies after Child Abuse, some readers got into a discussion in the comments about the importance of setting boundaries. Here are some words of wisdom to consider from some of my readers about setting boundaries:
I found the thing that I needed the most was to be willing to set boundaries with people. Every time I did something out of a sense of obligation to other people I was hurting myself (and that girl). When I became willing to say no, and to spend my time and energy in the way I needed to, I built up a level of trust with myself. It was hard to do at first- e.g. telling my family I wasn’t going ‘home’ for Christmas when I didn’t appear to have a ‘good’ reason not to (I’ve always been way too concerned with other people’s feelings). It’s an ongoing practice but gets easier all the time. And I notice that other people treat me with more respect and consideration than they did when I was a nice door mat. I think this has been an incredibly important step in my healing. ~Christine
Once my inner child knew she could trust me to protect her, stand up for her, set boundaries for her, nurture her, etc…did I feel a profound sense of healing. And guess what helped me….setting healthy boundaries with EVERYONE in my life. Until then, I didn’t realize how important boundaries are for healthy relationships. Even setting boundaries with myself is healthy. I mean it is KEY! The two things I finally did differently that made a difference:
1) TRUST myself to make the best decisions for ME.
2) Setting healthy boundaries.
These made a huge, huge difference in my healing process. ~ AllyValentino
Also relate to what Christine says about keeping the inner child safe, a big turning point recently for us was stopping listening to people (especially therapists) telling us we needed more friends and closer ones. Sure, it’d be nice, but what we really needed (and have finally started doing) is to stop bending over backwards to please everyone else, regardless of how they treat us, just so they’ll be our “friends”. Yep, boundaries, so that’s what they are! So, ok we lost a few “friends” and don’t have so many now, no one ever calls (but it’s ok cos we don’t expect them to) but at least we feel safe and don’t feel taken advantage of. And maybe, just maybe, some of the people we are friendly with will become real friends in the future. ~ Bay
What everyone else said was so great that I don’t have much to add. My therapist made “setting boundaries” my homework assignment after each session, and he assured me that if I thought I was “being a b@#$%,” I was probably moving toward nearing normal boundaries. I couldn’t really “get it” until I worded it to myself in this way: Whenever I don’t say no, I am choosing to hurt myself rather than hurt the feelings of an inconsiderate person.
Setting boundaries made me feel safer and less “used.” It was eye-opening to recognizing that I was not obligated to do everything that other people asked me to do for them!
Photo credit: Hekatekris