21 Sep Why Learning to Set Boundaries is Vital to our Well-Being.
For the longest time, I thought there were certain emotions I wasn’t allowed to feel—namely, anger. I also thought I was not allowed to have opinions or set boundaries.
Years of therapy helped me to identify that my childhood traumas left many deep scars. It also left me feeling deeply inadequate.
I remember as a child, thinking, “If I do this, maybe I will receive words of praise. If I do or say this, maybe I’ll receive words of love. If I do this- maybe they will love me? If, if, if…maybe I will be good enough…”
Over time, I became a people-pleasing chameleon who seemed to have no opinions of my own. Of course, I did have opinions. I just had no idea how to express myself.
My life was led by fear.
By the time I was in my mid-twenties, my tongue contained thousands of bite marks.
I had this overwhelming terror that if I was anything but “the cool girl” that never had my feathers ruffled, that people wouldn’t like me. I feared rejection. I feared that if I expressed my opinions that others may walk out of my life.
I would shove and stuff my feelings and my opinions to the point it became an overflowing suitcase that I could no longer sit on to zip it closed. It would burst open and the result would be this spewing volcano full of word-vomit.
As I continued with therapy, I learned that I had extremely low self-esteem and abandonment issues. I acted like a doormat and I couldn’t understand why people were walking all over me.
I was in my late-twenties when all of this began to change. I was in a horrific relationship (to say the least) and one day, I found the courage to speak up for myself.
What came out was not eloquent. It wasn’t graceful, and it definitely was not a representation of “the cool girl”—what came out was a great big fat “F*ck You!” And with those two words, I felt empowered.
I remember yelling, “Why are you allowed to be angry, but I’m not?!” That thought took hold with deep roots within my breast and changed my life forever.
I decided that there has to come a time in each person’s life where they are no longer allowed to blame their parents, their upbringing, their co-workers, friends, or your lover for feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, or fear of rejection.
There comes a time when you have to grow the f*ck up and take responsibility for yourself, your emotions, and actions — for your life. You are responsible for the quality of your life,
There comes a time when you have to decide that your story is yours and yours alone. You are responsible for your own happiness. You have to realize that you and you alone are responsible for the life you live.
For me, this time in my life came fast and furious. I was tired of laying blame and playing the victim, I empowered myself as I realized I was no longer satisfied with being best supporting actress.
This is my life. I am the leading lady of this role.
I had to allow myself to set boundaries and to become vulnerable. I had to open myself to the possibility of rejection or being left. I had to learn to set boundaries.
I also had to learn to deal with being called a “b*tch” for standing up for myself. I had to learn to deal with being called “selfish” if I would disengage from something that was not fulfilling to me or my path.
I had to learn to find my voice and to not shy away from conflict. Most importantly, I had to learn the art of communication.
I found ways to say “no” without sounding like a b*tch.
I have learned to explain to people that I believe in self-care. I had to learn to explain that it is vital for me to unplug and get lost in nature. I had to learn to express to people that my phone does not rule me, I will not always answer your calls and texts—and when I do, it may be days later.
I also learned to express what was meaningful to me, how I would rather meet at a cafe and talk face-to-face. I expressed that I believe brunches to be underrated. May we meet for eggs benedict and mimosas?
Through my growth, I also learned compromise and self-sacrifice. I have learned balance. I have learned boundaries.
I have also learned that rejection does not define me.
I have found my voice as a catalyst for others—I have learned to speak up for things that matter the most to me, such as women’s rights, animal activism, suicide prevention, and rape.
As I now approach forty (in two years), I find that I am confident. I have self-love and self-appreciation. I have learned that boundaries and vulnerability are key necessities to navigating through this life.
What lessons have you learned?
“What other people think of you is not your business. If you start to make that business your business, you will be offended for the rest of your life.” ~ Deepok Chopra
Author: Mary Rogers
Editor: Renée Picard
*Originally published on Elephant Journal