Who Am I? The Confidence to Say "No"

Healing Your Boundaries

If setting your personal boundaries sends you running for the hills, you could be unnecessarily stressed, unfulfilled, and feeling the symptoms of depression and anxiety. You could even be living a life of exhaustion, low mood, and intermittent chaos.

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Reclaiming your boundaries is not just a matter of learning a magic phrase. We all know the words “no thank you,” but, for some of us it’s harder to express, and there is good reason for that.

We often fear the negative consequences of saying “no”, and as a result keep our true feelings to ourselves. We fear that we could lose the love, respect, and support of people whom we care about or depend upon.

Healthy Boundaries are LEARNED

If you feel powerless to establish your boundaries, when you were a child you were powerless. If you feel that your boundaries are unhealthy, it means that your boundaries were treated in an unhealthy way as a child. When we think of “learning,” we often think about “information” and the facts that we remember.

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The colours of the rainbow, language, arithmetic… Little do we realise, that as children we are learning much deeper subjects of confidence, self-worth, and self-value. These are the teachings that will shape our ability to be in touch with our true needs and express healthy boundaries.

Feelings of emptiness, low self-esteem, anger, fear, shame, confusion, and numbness are symptoms of having had our personal boundaries violated over and over as children. What does this mean? A boundary is a personal preference. We all have a personal preferences about our physical needs, emotional needs, intellectual needs, and spiritual needs. As children, these needs are coming to the forefront, and our “important people” respond.

If our “important people” ignored, rejected, belittled, denied our needs, then we may have concluded that our needs matter less, or that we matter less. Our boundaries were not respected, and so we learned to disrespect our own boundaries. As a result, we stuff down our hurt, and plod on. As adults every confrontation can feel like a potential wound in the making.

Healing Your Inner Child Will Heal Your Boundaries

Although many of us had loving homes, within those homes we learned lessons about what our boundaries mean. For some, boundaries meant abuse. For others, boundaries mean burden. For others, boundaries meant withholding love. If we learned that it was not ok to feel, think, or be the way that we were – we may have taken it upon ourselves to change who we were in order to be accepted by our “important people.”

We may have learned that it’s our job to take care of other people’s emotions. Setting your personal boundaries can then become linked with the fear of causing an emotional crisis for another person.

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The implied message when our boundaries are violated is that there is something wrong with us – and we start to feel fear and shame, and learn to ignore our true needs. This becomes a kind of ‘self-alienation’ where we lose touch with what matters to us, and the conviction to claim our creative rights.

When our boundaries are not accurately received as children, we stuff them down and lose touch with who we really are. We sacrifice ourselves in order to be loved, we become ok with walking on eggshells, we forget that we matter. This painful relationship carries into adulthood until it is revisited, questioned, and healed.

To learn more about boundaries for empaths, click here.

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Rachel Anenberg, BA (Psyc), BSW, MSW (Master of Social Work) is a psychotherapist and spiritual coach providing integrative therapy. Her expertise as a psychotherapist come from a combined background and education in psychology, social work, and soul sciences.

Psychotherapy with Rachel can help you to heal depression, treat anxiety, recover from child abuse, adult abuse & narcissistic abuse. Genuine happiness is often out of reach because of unhealed past experiences. Psychotherapy can help you to get in control and feel naturally happy.

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