Sometimes We Need to Set Boundaries
One of the hardest things we have to learn on our self-love journey is how to place boundaries. It’s hard, and the people we need them with the most will make it the hardest for us to do.
I have asked a lot of people, “what was holding you back from accepting self-love”, and oftentimes the answer comes back, “I thought self-love meant selfish”. There is this outdated idea that to be a good person you have to give completely to others, whatever it is they need. This idea that if you aren’t giving someone what they want from you then you are selfish and letting them down.
The truth is this: we all have to do the inner work on our own. We can seek help from others and even support, but until we love ourselves, none of it matters.
In my interview with Jean Roberts, she said something that really struck me as pure gold. She said that because she loved herself, she loved everyone. With that in mind, at the end of the day our relationship with ourself truly is the most important one of all, and if someone is preventing you from giving care and love to yourself, you need to set some boundaries in place.
I bring this idea of self-support up because a common argument from boundary dis-respecters is “I should be enough for you, I gave what I could to you, now give me what I need, if you don’t you are selfish and ungrateful”. Sure they gave you what they thought you needed, but it was with strings and that isn’t healthy.
Doing the Hard Part
The absolute hardest part about setting boundaries is that you are, in a way, putting forth an ultimatum: this is what I have to give, take it or leave it. And perhaps you will have to cut someone out of your life. Perhaps a close friend, relative or coworker thinks there is no way that you can be serious with your boundary. That’s up to you, you can cut them out of your life and move on, or you can let them call your bluff and be left worse off than before. Believe it or not, the second option is harder.
Just because you set a boundary and/or cut a toxic person out of your life doesn’t mean that they never did anything good for you or that they’re a horrible person. Generally speaking, none of us would keep someone in our life long enough to even have need of a boundary if they gave us nothing or were an all out jerk.
To give you an example, I cut someone out of my life. Not a parent, but a parental figure. He said he had sacrificed his car, his money, his time…. and all he wanted from me was a relationship. He didn’t understand that my emotions were priceless, that they couldn’t be bought, and that there isn’t a timeline at the end of which there is that all important thing called “trust”.
At the end I was having regular panic attacks. The mere thought of seeing him set me off because of this expectation he had that I should be someone I wasn’t and feel something I didn’t.
One thing no one should ever have to apologize for is how they feel. No one should ever tell you that you need to feel a certain way. That is a sure sign of someone who is trying to control your life, and a sign that you need to set up a boundary with them because they feel for some reason entitled to tell you that you are feeling wrong. There is no such thing as a wrong emotion. If you are feeling guilt over something that you are feeling, I highly recommend reading “The Dark Side of Light Chaser” by Debbie Ford, she does a fantastic job of going over how all emotions are necessary for a full human existence.
On a side note, if you are dealing with trying to set boundaries with a parent or parental figure, I’d recommend reading “Toxic Parents” by Susan Forward and Craig Buck which was recommended to me by a therapist.
At the end of the day, never sacrifice your self-care practice for another person. Your mental, emotional, and spiritual health are far too important. Remember, if you don’t love yourself you can’t really love anyone else, and if you don’t care for yourself you can’t care for others.
Are you a boundary pusher?
If you are on the other side, perhaps someone has cut you out of their life and you are seriously confused as to why… perhaps you’re reading this article in an attempt to come to terms with your very real loss, I would suggest letting the other person go. There is a possibility that you aren’t meant to have a relationship in this lifetime, and by getting angry, lashing out, and blaming the other person for cutting you out of their life you are missing out on the one thing that could heal you: starting your own self-care practice.