Many of us struggle to set and enforce healthy boundaries.
This is particularly common for empaths, highly sensitives, and those suffering from codependency, because we have not developed a strong sense of self. Often, we don’t know what our needs are because we are used to putting other people’s needs first.
Having a strong sense of self means that we are clear on what we enjoy, on what we don’t like, on our values and our preferences, and we easily and openly speak our truth, regardless of what others might think. This is the essence of authenticity. If we don’t know who we are, then how can we show others how to treat us? How can we draw a line signalling what is okay and what isn’t?
Another reason for having loose boundaries is because many of us grew up in emotionally or physically abusive family environments. We learned to say “yes” in order to stay safe or please our caregivers in an attempt to get our needs met. This mostly did not happen, and we grew up feeling like our needs and emotions didn’t matter.
This behavioural pattern and the conclusions (which essentially are limiting beliefs) that we formed about ourselves and the world continue in adulthood. This way of relating has become the default state and what feels familiar to us. So for this reason, when we think of setting a boundary or voicing our needs, we get paralyzed by feelings of discomfort and even fear. The root cause of the fear is fear of rejection and abandonment.
As empaths, we also want to keep everyone happy because we tend to derive our self-worth from this. If someone is disappointed, we experience their emotions in our bodies, and again, we want to avoid feeling discomfort at all costs.
Finally, connected to this, is a deep-rooted fear of conflict. Our nervous systems will go into fight-or-flight, and the emotions will be too intense to navigate, so instead we stay small as a way to stay “safe.”
Now it is up to us to reprogram this pattern and realize that setting boundaries is an act of self-love. Realizing that our needs and emotions are valid. Believing that we do indeed deserve to be treated with respect and that letting another person know how to love us, is the most compassionate thing we can do.
Visit the article in its entirety at Elephant Journal
Publish Date: April 3, 2020
AUTHOR: CASSANDRA MICHAEL
IMAGE: @LAURALINKE_ART / INSTAGRAM
EDITOR: KELSEY MICHAL