Are You Feeling Lonely and Craving More?
By Krista Resnick – Master Life Coach.
As a child, my model of how to move through the world was to protect yourself at all costs. My mother used control by managing her list of rules which ultimately shut people out of our lives. Growing up, I don’t recall many moments of joy or connection. We were very much a disconnected family, living together under one roof but never really experiencing true intimacy and connection. Looking back now I recognize that my mother was holding so tightly to her reins of control because of deep fears and shame. Vulnerability and emotions in my home were taboo-off limits. Sadly, my childhood memories are ones filled with a lot of loneliness, control, criticism, defensiveness and judgment.
Many of you may have been brought up much like me believing that boundaries were about protecting yourself from others. You may have built walls around your heart, moving through life guarded and ‘boundaried.’ While sometimes this is necessary with situations that are extremely toxic and abusive, for many of us, this is simply a pattern that is passed down and deemed ‘normal.’ However, I often like to say that just because something is deemed as normal, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Personally, I have been at both ends of the spectrum. As a result of my rigid upbringing and controlling mother, my pattern was to play the good girl. If I could just stay out of her way and be the good girl I would be safe. “Go along to get along” was my mantra. I acquiesced, pleased, subordinated and appeased to the extreme. Mostly because I didn’t really know who I was. Being raised in a rigid and controlling environment caused me to disconnect from myself and doubt who I was. It caused me to outsource my sense of safety and uniqueness, relying on other people to tell me and show me who I was.
Eventually, I got tired of being the yes girl. I was constantly exhausted and overwhelmed so I set out to put some much needed boundaries in place. Over the years, while I did in fact set some boundaries, they were coming from a place of rigidity, rules and control. While I was ‘boundaried’ I was also incredibly isolated and lonely. I had built a wall around my heart that no one could get through unless they fit into my nice little book of rules (returning to my familiar childhood pattern of control and rigidity).
Looking back, what I have discovered about either approach is that you will ultimately create a life of loneliness. When we live life appeasing and pleasing others-we ultimately have to abandon ourselves. We believe that we have to play the part of “I’m just the person who is always there for everyone else.” We believe we have to buy into the person who is always useful and productive to others. And ultimately, in order to be there for everyone else, it is required that we cast our own needs aside.
On the flip side, when we set boundaries from a place of fear, rigidity and control, we also abandon our needs for true intimacy, belonging and connection. We are so afraid to let intimacy in, we are so afraid to be vulnerable that we shut it down with our rules and control-harming and destroying the very connection and closeness that we crave.
Both ends of the spectrum cause deep pain and interfere with a healthy, happy and satisfying life. The bottom line in either direction is that our needs are not being met. And when our needs are not met, we hurt. This is why I am so passionate about helping others understand that the foundation of healthy boundaries is acknowledging and expressing our needs.
Our needs for belonging, intimacy, play, space, peace, connection, to be seen, to be heard, autonomy and creativity (just to name a few) matter. They matter deeply. They show ourselves and others who we are-what we stand for and what makes us come alive. Our needs ultimately are a north star-guiding us toward a life that feels aligned. Honoring our needs helps us craft lives of intention and design-rather than pain and default, by always being on edge, just waiting to react to someone else.
The invitation for you is to begin looking at how you are either trying to control life, people, situations and circumstances or how you are trying to be useful, productive, or the good girl/boy by appeasing and pleasing. Either end of the spectrum, you are abandoning your needs. You are walking away from your values, desires and wants in exchange for control, fear, lack, scarcity, approval or appeasing.
The beautiful thing about healthy boundaries is that they have the potential to bring you back home to YOU. But in order to set healthy boundaries, it is mandatory that we acknowledge and honor our needs. Honoring our needs and setting healthy boundaries around those needs is what can slowly pull us out of codependent patterns and puts us back at the helm of our own sovereignty and leadership.
If we don’t learn how to meet our own needs or ask for our needs to be met, it creates chaos in our adult life.
Think about the areas of your life where you are holding onto resentment, anger, frustration, anxiety, overwhelm or exhaustion. When we experience some of these unpleasant feelings, that can lead us to examine what the underlying unmet need might actually be. Needs are what anchor us into our boundaries. Once we recognize the areas of our life where we aren’t feeling the way we want to feel, we can tap into the unmet need. And when we tap into the unmet need, it ultimately leads us to set a boundary around what it is that we desire.
I invite you to simply start thinking about what you need-during the holiday season, but also in your everyday life. Ask yourself, what needs do you have around the holiday season, around your life? Is it peace, space, order, simplicity or ease? When you go against what it is that you need-how do you feel?
If you cannot think of your “needs” first write down what you don’t want in life. For example, “I don’t want to be so exhausted all the time.” Then, push yourself to consider what you would need in order to stop feeling exhausted.
Now, acknowledging some of your current needs, what boundaries might you need to set to keep your needs at the forefront this holiday season? What actions might you need to take in order to experience what you need and desire?
This might bring up a lot of fear, but I always return to one of my favorite quotes by Mary Oliver: “What will you do with your One Wild and Precious Life?” Will we continue to live lives of default-always being wrapped up in our people pleasing, codependency patterns, or will we break free by honoring the amazing humans we are and contributing to the world by bringing forward our most aligned, sovereign selves?
Krista Resnick is Master Certified Coach who strongly believes that a well boundaried life empowers people to stop people pleasing and start living a life fueled by intention and design. You can learn more about healthy boundaries by downloading her free resource ‘The Secret to Empowered Boundaries’ here: https://kristaresnick.lpages.co/empowered-boundaries-knowing-what-you-need/