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Setting Boudaries

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I have, like a lot of people, problem setting personal boudaries, and I'm currently learning to do so, using the advice you can read below.

My SP friend Celest wrote on my SP page:

"Oooh I'd so love to say I will take some me time, but now is not possible. My mom just had knee replacement surgery and is still in the recovery stage. While she is INCREDIBLY demanding, she is also emotional and in pain, so I have to tough it out for a few more weeks till she's fully mobile by herself. Thankfully I have time out with boot camp and I take the dogs for runs. My sister and I take it day about to care for my moms needs...but when she's recovered I am definitely taking a long weekend and hubby and I are going away. Can't wait for that."

This reminds me of this great advice I read in nesletter form today:

Setting Boundaries with Yourself,
and With Others

* My friend, Gary, takes care of his elderly father who has Alzheimer's. Gary himself is recovering from a stroke and limited in what he can do. Yet he continues to feel he must be 'the good son' because he promised his mother he would take care of his father. His siblings contribute some financially, but avoid doing any of the care themselves. Gary will not consider adult day care or other facility for his dad, despite his own physical limitations and stress.

* My neighbor Pat continued to call her son every morning when he went away to college because she was afraid he would oversleep and miss his morning classes. He has always had such a hard time waking up, she explains, and often her calls were the only reason he made it to his early classes.

* `I said we would have the people in my department and their spouses over for dinner,' said my friend Susan's husband. Susan agreed, but felt angry and overwhelmed at the work she was expected to do. She wanted to impress her husband's colleagues, even if it meant cooking the entire dinner all by herself, rather than having it catered.

What do all of these people have in common? They all have a problem setting boundaries...for themselves and for others.

In the physical world, boundaries are things like fences or guard rails, things which provide separation and protection. Personal boundaries also protect us from doing things which cause anger, resentment, depression or other feel bad emotions.

Most of us probably don't spend much time thinking about what our boundaries are, but we know when they have been crossed.

In the above situation, Gary feels resentful, worried, and more than a little depressed. He sees no way out of his current situation. Pat feels used, but also fears not feeling needed as her nest is now empty. Susan feels angry, resentful, and anxious that she will not be able to meet her husband's or her own expectations.

All of these people need to establish boundaries with which they can be comfortable. They must set limits on how they will allow themselves to be treated by others and how they treat themselves as well.

1) Recognize your boundaries.

When we do something that is wrong for us, or when someone takes advantage of us, we usually feel it, although we may try not to. Notice your feelings. Do you feel used? Angry? Anxious? Do you feel as though your energy or personal space has been encroached upon? Learn to become aware of these sensations.

2) Give yourself permission to set boundaries.

People who know their boundaries tend to have better self esteem and self awareness. They respect themselves, and can make it known that they expect those around them to respect them too.

3) Explain your boundaries when others cross them.

Do this calmly, respectfully, and without blame. Explain what feels upsetting to you and why. When Susan explained to her husband that she felt very put upon that he had committed her to having this dinner party, he was surprised. He honestly did not know how much stress it caused her.

For her part, Susan also realized she was causing some of her own stress by wanting to do everything, and do it perfectly. They agreed that in the future they would make decisions about entertaining together, and would be comfortable with outsourcing some of the work.

4) Be willing to explain what you will and won't do and let the consequences happen.

Pat told her son that she would no longer call him to wake up for classes. He complained at first, and even missed a couple of early morning lectures, but when he realized she meant it, he learned to set two alarm clocks to be sure he got to class on time. Pat learned to let go of her need to feel needed by her son, and found she enjoyed the time and freedom of her empty nest.

Gary finally called a family meeting and explained the strain and feeling of having no control over his own life. His siblings agreed to help out with their father's care, and realized as they did so how very difficult it was. They found a good Alzheimer's care facility and convinced Gary that his mother would certainly understand, that she would not have wanted him stuck in that situation.

Recognizing our boundaries, explaining them when necessary, and sticking to them takes practice...but ultimately gives us more freedom, more time, and more respect.

* * * * * * *

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Yes, Celeste, I know about guilt. It ain't easy.

    I'm the eldest and was raised with an extra-load of responsability towards others. I am learning (baby steps) to set myself free from that toxic education.

    Asking a 10 yrs old to care night after night for her younger siblings,aged 4 and 2, is simply NOT right. But that's what my parents did to me.

    Right now, my mom is ill with cancer. But I've made it VERY clear to my 3 younger siblings that there is no way I am taking the whole load of it on my sole shoulders just because I live nearby. After all, I am disabled myself, and the least likely to be able to help.

    They understood perfectly well and they are taking turns in coming to visit her. So this ain't easy, but it can be done.
    1000 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/31/2013 6:57:25 AM
  • v CELEST
    Very good information. Tough to apply when you have been raised with guilt feelings about everything, but still something to think about and apply. Thanks.
    1000 days ago
    Thanks for sharing
    1000 days ago
    Great Blog! Thank you for sharing this information.

    1000 days ago
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