Self-love starts with courageous, healthy boundaries
This week we are still dealing with the crucial topic of self-love. I want to go a bit deeper into setting healthy boundaries as a form of self-care. It will protect you from taking responsibility for other people's negative emotions and making them your own.
· Tips to keep your boundaries intact
Perhaps you have tried to set a few boundaries in the past but shortly afterward gave in to the internal voices of regret and self-condemnation constantly screaming, “you’re being selfish, who do you think you are!”
Additionally, you may have had external voices continuously asking,
"But you’ve always been there for us in the past."
"We have no one else we can turn to!”
Friends, allow me to remind you again - your time, talents, compassion, and energy are precious. Don't let anyone dictate how you should use it - you are the only one who should decide what you will and won't accept and how you want people to treat you.
Loving yourself courageously and abundantly means you set firm, practical, and healthy boundaries as a form of self-care and you stay in your power.
This approach will help you create meaningful, reciprocal relationships that add value to your life instead of continuously draining your energy, inner peace, and joy.
Have you ever felt you’ve failed someone because despite spending an enormous amount of time comforting and motivating them in the best possible way, they remain sad, distressed, and unhappy?
Dr. Henry Cloud, an Executive Coach and Boundaries Expert, is emphatic about setting healthy boundaries so that you don't end up 'owning' someone else's emotions. Each person's feelings are their property.
So, whether their feelings are positive or negative, it falls within their personal boundaries and become their responsibility.
That principle also applies to your closest family members, best friends, and colleagues at work. Do not fall into the trap of taking on their emotions as their feelings are their own, and only they can process them.
Dr. Cloud relates a scenario about a daughter who always felt responsible for changing her mother's anger into happiness. So, instead of setting boundaries to protect herself from taking on her mother’s negative emotions, she decided to change her choices and behavior to appease her mother.
Can you immediately see what was wrong with that decision?
The daughter, having taken responsibility for her mother's happiness, has effectively given her mother's anger control over her own life and future choices.
Her decisions and behavior are based on how it will make her mother feel in the moment and not on what the daughter wants or how she wants to live her life.
Effectively, this daughter has sacrificed her freedom to live an authentic lifestyle by absorbing her mother's negative emotions and making them her own.
Everyone needs someone to talk to when it feels their world is falling apart and they’re feeling overwhelmed by a sense of sadness or severe anger.
Being empathetic to someone else's experiences and feelings are good qualities. It enables you to connect with people on a deeper level of understanding.
However, as much as you can empathize with a family member, best friend or colleague when they’re feeling overwhelmed, your support should be as a sensitive, mindful listener without absorbing their feelings as your own.
Everyone ultimately needs to 'own' their emotions and find ways of processing their feelings in a unique, mature manner that works for them.
The unfortunate thing is that if you start taking responsibility for others’ emotional upsets, you can become a scapegoat and set yourself up for blame when things don't work out for them.
Why? That’s because you are crossing into space or territory that is not yours to own, and you've overstepped a boundary.
The danger is that constantly feeling responsible for someone else's disappointments in life gives them an open door to control your time with constant fits of emotional upsets to get your attention.
I have in a previous article spoken about being a people pleaser who lacks the boundaries to say 'no' for fear of being rejected or the need to be affirmed by others.
Being empathetic to people’s problems can lead to the same trap of feeling responsible for their feelings and happiness. But there is always a threat that you can absorb their negative emotions and make them your own.
Setting boundaries is a form of self-love as it helps you become more aware of your own emotions, triggers, and understand your feelings.
¨ Do not allow yourself to become a 'dumping ground for others' negative feelings. Know yourself and what you can handle.
¨ Exercise high emotional intelligence by recognizing and managing your own emotions so that you can easily distinguish between your and someone else’s emotions.
¨ Put a specific name to the feelings that you’re experiencing, i.e. happy, excited, bored, etc. This will help you recognize when you’re taking on feelings that belong to someone else.
¨ Become more self-aware and get to know what triggers different emotions. Understand the things or scenarios that cause you to feel happy, excited, sad, bored, etc. This way you will be able to protect yourself from absorbing negative energy and owning someone else’s feelings.
¨ A sensitive curiosity about the other person’s bad experience and gently probing about their feelings allows them to share their emotions.
Sharing their emotions allows them to process their negative feelings in a safe space and it lets you separate your own feelings from becoming entangled with theirs.
Being empathetic to people’s problems and wanting to help must come with healthy boundaries so you don’t end up owning their negative emotions.
You might also have to limit your exposure to certain people who tend to drain your last ounce of energy and never seem to find solutions to their problems.
Remember, effective boundaries that are based on your personal needs, energy levels, and emotional capacity, is a form of self-love.
If you need help to set clear boundaries in some areas of your life, don’t hesitate to schedule a FREE 20-minute session with me.
You can also join my Facebook group and learn how to set and maintain your goals for the year. Click on the link below to join: