Tuesday, September 15, 2015
9 STEPS TO MAKING AND KEEPING BETTER BOUNDARIES
1. Name YOUR limits.
You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits. Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. “Those feelings help us identify what our limits are.” Boundaries are what you will and won't do and will and won't tolerate. You have to know what your limits are, and you may want to write them down at first as you are beginning to set and enforce boundaries. This is new to you, and you have to know where you stand, and others do to. There a mental/emotional limits (verbal abuse and manipulation), physical boundaries (stay away from me, don't touch me, don't come to my home), and spiritual limits as well. You will need to be in touch with your feelings and anything that makes you feel stressed or uncomfortable needs limits.
2. Get in touch with your inner, deeper feelings
If someone is doing something that makes you mad or uncomfortable, that's a red flag and you need to examine why that's happening. What is this person doing that's bothering me? You are gaining self awareness now.
Feeling manipulated or taken advantage of....that may cause you anger or resentment. It means someone is over the limit of what is good for us and we are allowing it at that time. If they are manipulating you into tolerating it because they induce guilt in you...that means they are imposing THEIR values, needs, desires, or expectations on you and it also means they are crossing a boundary.
3. Communicate your boundaries clearly and directly
You can't hint or beat around the bush. This is where a person who's running over your boundaries will take advantage of your natural inclination to be courteous. It takes practice, but you'll get used to not mincing words about your boundaries.
4. You're the boss...give yourself permission to be in control of your life
Boundaries are not about controlling others. They are about gaining and keeping control of YOUR life. Victims of narcissists are usually beaten down and so are filled with self-doubt and fear. What if they act offended when you set boundaries? You can be sure that if you've let yourself be walked on, when you set boundaries, some people will be surprised, some happy for you, and some angry....the last one is because they can take advantage of you any more. Self respect is priceless and boundaries go a long way toward self respect.
5. Know yourself...your past, and your present
Victims of narcissists have ignored their own needs for so long that they do it habitually. Your relationships will tend to be one sided rather than relationships of equals, and tend toward the narcissist, and others, have no respect for you, so none for your boundaries. Did you even have any boundaries? Perhaps not, and that would be common, so boundaries will make a HUGE change in your life.
In the past, people pushed your buttons to prevent you have enforcing healthy boundaries. Knowing yourself, tuning into yourself, being frank with yourself about your past, will help you understand your feelings now and is absolutely critical to defending your boundaries.
6. Take care of YOURSELF now
This isn't selfish and it's something that victims of narcissists are often not used to doing since they are used to taking care of the narcissist, and perhaps others at the expense of their own needs and feelings. Now, is the time to honor and respect those feelings. Giving yourself permission to do self care is very empowering for victims and brings a degree of peace of mind. Doing self care makes you a better parent, partner, and friend.
7. Know who supports you and your boundaries and ditch those that don't
A self help group often helps strengthen boundaries, as does counseling with a therapist experienced in narcissistic abuse. Victims of narcissists often lose as many "friends" and they gain. There is a huge weeding out process that results in only positive, supportive friends in your life, while the negative and critical people who don't understand your journey get left in the dust.
9. Understand and study assertiveness
Boundaries are ONLY boundaries IF THEY ARE STRONGLY ENFORCED. Being words only is not boundaries. Boundaries are not just an intellectual exercise....it means saying "no" when you mean "no". Now, real friends will care about you and understand why, and those that keep crossing boundaries after you've stated them clearly are not your friends...not really. Personally, I've found it helpful to IMMEDIATELY shut down ANYONE who tries to talk me into a relationship with my narcissistic ex. That is something I will NOT tolerate and it sends a clear message. It's also very assertive, but sensibly so. I am polite but definite about my boundaries. It's not uncommon for people to test your boundaries to see if you're serious. And, BTW, having the narcissist test your boundaries about non-involvement with him is called "hoovering".
9. Practice, practice, practice
Practice in front of a mirror. Say it out loud. This is a new skill and it will take practice just like anything else. If you continue to practice, then your boundaries will get stronger over time as YOU get stronger. What you might have timidly asserted as a boundary at one point, a year later if that person tries to cross that boundary, you're likely to be a mama bear.
Here's the thing....START NOW, and remember this is a learned skill, so give your self time. You can do this.
at 10:08 AM