Boundaries Are Key To Your Personal Empowerment

By Krista Resnick-Master Coach.

There is so much I can share about boundaries.  I would actually say that about 75% of the work I do with my clients is on their personal boundaries (or lack thereof).

In this particular article,  I want to talk about the direct correlation to boundaries and self love.  Because when we truly love ourselves and have a healthy self worth and self concept, setting boundaries simply becomes an extension of that.  

Without boundaries, we literally become either walled off and protect ourselves from others, which creates a sense of deep isolation and loneliness.  Or we become enmeshed with others.  We often find ourselves living on their side of the street, working overtime to manage, fix, caretake or be needed by others, all the while neglecting ourselves and our personal well being and needs.  

As children, we were often rewarded for being relational, compliant, quiet, agreeable, easy and invisible. The underlying message is that you don’t deserve to have ownership of yourself.  As long as you do what the big people say-you’re in good graces, but cross that line and you’re in trouble.  Because that hurt and brought up so much shame for us, the alternative was to  disconnect from our authentic self.  We became someone who played a part merely to gain acceptance and stay in good graces, but at the detriment of our own needs and desires.  

I personally have been on BOTH sides of the coin.  I was boundary-less for much of life, giving and giving to others, unable to stand for myself and my own personal needs.  A great example of this was when my children were school-aged,  I once had a 7 hour coffee date.  Yes, you read that right.  She came to my home after my kids got on the bus and was still there after they got home.  The sad part was that I didn’t think I had the option to ask her to leave.  I remember wanting to scream-”Don’t you get it?  Can’t you see I have things to do?  “Don’t you think you’ve worn out your welcome?”

But instead, I just kept smiling, nodding my head in agreement with whatever she was saying because I couldn’t fathom the thought of not being in her good graces.  I feared she would tell people I was selfish, rude, a bitch!  And living in a small ‘everyone knows everyone’ community, my nervous system simply wasn’t having that.  After having fried adrenal glands twice from all the constant over-giving, over-serving,  endless worry of what others thought of me, I flipped the pendulum to the other extreme.  Now I began to build a wall.  I was tired of everyone taking advantage of me and asking me for my energy.  No became my personal mantra-until I woke up one day realizing how incredibly isolated and alone I felt.  

I had protected myself to the point of shutting everyone out.  We are hardwired for connection, for community, for a group of people in which we feel we belong with.  Our nervous systems operate really beautifully when we feel safe with others and are able to experience a dance of co-regulation.  

We want to move toward healthy Boundaries which are flexible, fluid and give us the chance to shift and change.  Healthy boundaries aren’t completely loose and open, but they aren’t to the other extreme of being closed off and guarded. 

Boundaries and attachment style go hand in hand.  Our earliest attachment was with our mothers. If we had a mother who met us in our time of need with compassion, a friendly face and consistency, we built what is called a secure attachment.  If we didn’t have this experience and our mother was unfriendly, shut down, cold, inconsistent and not able to attune to our feelings and emotions as children, we created something called an insecure attachment.  And from this deep well of insecurity, as adults there is a good chance we are looking to have another adult meet our needs or fill this hole in our soul-we begin at a very early age to look to others for our security.  

Developing healthy boundaries requires that we begin to learn that no other person can provide the inner safety and security that we need.  Our healing work requires that we learn to reparent ourselves and provide the very internal safety that we need and long for. 

This work isn’t necessarily easy, it takes time to learn how to nurture ourselves and build a rock solid sense of authenticity and integrity.  However, the irony is when we learn to meet our own needs and recognize that we can create our own internal safety, it is the exact foundation required for better intimate relationships and friendships.

The best thing we can do is learn to stay with ourselves and be true to who we really are.  Your needs, your preferences, your wishes, your desires are what make you, YOU!  I know you’ve maybe heard that a million times, but maybe a million and one is what it takes.  Really let that sink in.  If any relationship requires that you abandon yourself to keep the peace then it’s not a healthy relationship.  

As we begin to build a healthier version of ourselves and recognize our true worth, we begin to not be so tolerable of those who mistreated us or diminished our worth.  Being in your energy is a privilege, not a right.  You might want to repeat that to yourself on the daily.  

Over time, we draw in healthier individuals who respect us because they too respect themselves.  As we shed the false self that we once created to gain approval and stay safe, we gift ourselves the opportunity to explore what our hearts actually need and desire.  I can’t promise you that the people in your life who were always used to you being easy, go with the flow, not ruffle any feathers, will find your new found boundaries a bit of a convenience.  I just experienced this situation recently. She begged for the old version of me that just wasn’t available to her whims and needs any longer.  She loved me when I could be that one way friendship for her, but I couldn’t do it anymore.  

My new rule is two sided relationships are the only relationships for me.  

What I love most about boundary work is that it is so incredibly honest.  Because boundaries are grounded in our values and our needs, we are showing people the real and authentic us.  We are saying, “this is what I need, this is what I desire-are you able to meet me in this?”  And sometimes they can and sometimes they can’t but the bottom line is that boundaries are the gateway to give us the opportunity to create relationships based on pure honesty and truth.  

Having healthy boundaries requires a level of you that is healthy, whole and anchored to your truth.  They require you to step up and express this truth to create relationships, love and a life that you are obsessed with. 

There are two exercises I want to leave you with to begin working on your boundaries.  

1)  No more auto-yesing.  From now on, when anyone asks you anything-your immediate response is that you need to give yourself a minimum of 24 hours before you respond.  This exercise is important because what it is doing is giving you an opportunity to pause and check in with your body.  If we are accustomed to having codependency, good girl, or people pleasing patterns-our immediate response is always YES 150% of the time.  This exercise stops that pattern and gives you the pause to really feel through what feels expansive and good to you. 

2)  Spend some time journaling on the following questions:

  • In what ways/areas/relationships am I giving my power away?
  • What am I tolerating that doesn’t feel good to me any longer?
  • In what ways was I rewarded for not having boundaries as a child?
  • What current situations/relationships do I have an opportunity to start building my boundary muscle?

These two exercises are powerhouse tools to help you discover and implement new choices and responses.  And lastly, If you feel like you are bumping up against a wall when it comes to your boundaries….the only way out is through.   Yes, it feels clunky, No you won’t always get your new found boundaries ‘right’ (hello good girl), but I am here to support you to the other side.  

Join me where life is so free and expansive, you can’t even imagine…..

In addition to being a regular contributor to the #1 Online Magazine For Codependency Recovery, Krista Resnick is a master life coach who helps women break free of the toxic patterns of people pleasing, self neglect and overwhelm so that you can become the most incredible leader in life, relationships and love. Download her workbook, The Secret to Empowered Boundaries:

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