Updated: Oct 12, 2020
Side-Effects and Tips Towards Establishing Them.
Last week, the topic of setting boundaries was discussed on social media, and the podcast interview hosted by Fireflies Unite. If you haven't had a chance to listen to it, check it out here .
As a follow-up, I feel it's essential to mention the secondary effects of establishing boundaries. Yup, as you'll hear in the interview, it's not so cut and dry, and the process can leave you with varying emotions and thoughts left to unpack if you want long-lasting change.
You may be surprised, not surprised here. Yes, guilt is one of the main side-effects my clients experience during the process of establishing healthy boundaries for themselves. One of the reasons is because the person that now has to adjust to this new norm may project their own beliefs and discontent, which has shifted for the person establishing them. Perhaps the person setting them once believed they had to compromise their health and own free time so they can be emotionally, physically, and mentally available for a friend, now they recognize that is not the case. Relationships are built on a set of agreements, whether they were explicitly or not discussed; there was a level of expectations set that have shifted. For the person that was always seeking help, they may very well believe their friend is responsible for being available and take the boundaries as a sign of "no longer being dependable or a real friend." Here's the thing, your friend is not meant to be your therapist. While there may have been a change in mindset, the emotions of not being so available to people and no longer being the "go-to" person, can leave one feeling guilty or as if they're "not doing enough".
Resistance and/or Frustration
Let's be honest, if you had access to something and now all of a sudden there's restriction and limits just as the times we are living in with COVID-19, initially there will be resistance. This can be expected as the new dynamics of any relationship are going through an adjustment phase (one can hope). Frustration can be experienced for not just the one having to adjust to the new norms, but also for the one establishing boundaries who may have to remind the people in their lives of the changes. While at first, it may feel frustrating to voice your needs and wants; ultimately, it can be liberating and more manageable with practice!
The very reason why one needs to establish boundaries is due to the narrative and beliefs around them in the first place. As humans, we tend to get in our way, but also, many factors contribute to how you relate to people in the world and the roles you assume, such as:
· Family Dynamics
· Gender Roles
· Religious Expectations
· Cultural Norms and Traditions
· Unhealed Attachments with Caregivers
Whew, that's quite a bit! 😩 As you can see, this requires getting to the very core and examining your beliefs and also past experiences that led you to have unhealthy boundaries in the first place. There's no shame, this is a process, and you can evolve at any point in your life. With proper support and practice, you decide what to adopt and change.
The Upward Turn
Self-care is health care. Say it out loud for all the people in the back!!! It is, and you decide what the practice looks like for you. That is a non-negotiable. The shift? You are placing yourself and wellness as your base and believing you are worth fighting. Here's a couple of things you can do to flip the script.
One famous Social Worker, Brené Brown, speaks of courage, vulnerability, and extending compassion to oneself. Part of self-compassion can be kind to yourself, demonstrating empathy rather than self-defeating. This process requires meeting yourself where you are and then being brutally honest in the most loving way on what you need to fill your cup. Try having an accountability buddy, and may I suggest this be a therapist, coach, or ally.
Process of Beliefs and Internalized Emotions
Through the process of going in, you can release yourself of feeling "indebted." This is a collective experience for many of my clients, particularly of first generation who are the first to go to College or "get out" and come from historically marginalized communities. Paying respect, reverence, and support is different than basing all life decisions and joy on external factors such as approval. Different families have varying parenting styles, and more often than not, fear and respect have been used interchangeably. The boundary lines tend to be blurred for adults who struggle with establishing boundaries. Equip and empower yourself with knowledge and support by working with somebody that can have an objective perspective.
Give Yourself Permission
You can evolve and change how you want to relate to people. If this means, some relationships will end as a result of you placing first, perhaps the connection was non-reciprocal, and the person benefited more from you not having boundaries than you did in the first place 🤭. Stop holding yourself to the standard of your former self. You know more now and want more-that’s perfectly acceptable. You’ve evolved and know yourself more therefore, your wants, beliefs, and desires have too. Lastly, remember that YOU teach people how to treat you.