“Boundaries are for losers.”
This is what I used to think.
I believed that compromising, people-pleasing, and being “easy” was the best way to be liked and to maintain my relationships. I thought that by doing this, I was being an openhearted and “good” person.
Quite frankly, I didn’t even know what boundaries were, let alone that by not placing them, I was giving my power away and actually damaging the relationships I cared about the most.
I didn’t know boundaries keep us safe and by setting them we teach those around us how we want to be loved. Because the truth was, I didn’t know how I wanted to be loved. I didn’t know what my needs were, or what I truly wanted. My main reality was that I was subconsciously driven by this underlying fear of rejection, of not being liked. Or being considered a “selfish” or “bad” person. And I was far from it! I had to prove this to everyone in my circle. I was good. I was giving. That I could sacrifice myself for love.
How brave right? I could put up with anything. I could forgive anything. I masked that as being “superior,” as being a “good person.” When friends would tell me that they had shut certain people out of their lives, I would preach forgiveness. I would pinpoint all the ways in which said person was in pain. I could see all of this because I was an empath. But, I was a disempowered and unawakened empath. I placed my sense of self-worth on how much of myself I was “giving away.” I lost myself in relationships time and time again. What a sad reality, to think that we have to sacrifice our essence in order to be loved. This, of course, comes from childhood wounding and conditioning. And the good news is we can heal.
If you are an empath and you lack boundaries, you know what I am talking about. You probably are also struggling in the relationship arena with narcissistic, emotionally unavailable, or detached partners. Because with them, you get to confirm your self-limiting narrative that “whatever I do it’s never enough.” Because with them you get to confirm your limiting belief that deep down you have to work for and earn love.
I’m here to tell you that love is your birthright and that you are inherently worthy of it. That you don’t have to work for or earn love. That boundaries are an act of self-love and an effort to strengthen the relationships that matter most to you. I love a quote from Elizabeth Earnshaw that says, “When people set boundaries with you, it’s their attempt to continue a relationship with you. It’s not an attempt to hurt you.” Read that again.
The codependent coping mechanisms that kept you safe as a child are not serving you any longer. In another article I wrote titled The Childhood Wounds that Keep us from Setting Healthy Boundaries, I talk about the psychology behind this and give you my favorite exercises that I recommend to my clients to help them develop a stronger sense of self and start learning (and feel deserving) of setting healthy and firm boundaries.
Let me know in the comments: Why do you struggle with boundaries? What fear is getting in the way?