Boundary. A simple word. Everyone knows what it means and how to respect and enforce them in their lives. For a codependent, however, it’s not that easy… Setting boundaries gets in the way of people pleasing, obsessing, controlling the situation and care-taking. Hearing that word “boundary” is enough to make us run and hide. As a fellow codependent, I know that when I hear the word “boundary” it means I have A LOT of work ahead of me. A huge process of letting go, prayer, faith, self-compassion, courage and vulnerability that quite frankly, sucks.
But what’s the alternative? The way I was living before I was allowing people to bypass all my boundaries, resulting in resentment, anger and hostility towards my loved ones, acquaintances and even strangers! Why was I so angry? They were only doing or going as far as my boundaries would allow them. When I began to see where my choice was in everything and started setting boundaries, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my chest!
So how do we get past this fear of setting boundaries and enforcing them? Faith…
Faith in ourselves that we know what’s best for us. By setting a boundary we’re only doing what we need to do to be healthy—physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Faith in our higher power. There’s no need for us to control the situation, people please, care take or obsess—our higher power has that covered. All we have to do is set our boundary with love and have faith that the rest will fall into place.
Faith that our loved ones will support and love us no matter what boundaries we set. They may not like it at first and I’m sure they’ll give you some flack, but they’ll get used to it (plus, you’ll see who your true friends really are.)
At first, it was hard to enforce my boundaries—the pressure was just so intense. It seemed like everyone was getting pissed off at me for finally setting some (much needed) boundaries in my life. With time though, that went away and it seemed that each time I was able to enforce one boundary, the next one seemed even easier to enforce. Not to mention, the result was much more pleasant; instead of sitting with hostility and anger, I had more self-respect and a little less fear. How bad is that?
When it seems like the pressure is too much to bear, try taking all those caretaking skills we’ve so carefully mastered and use them to take care of and love yourself. With a little self-love and a little faith, the boundary setting process will be a little more bearable.
by Robyn Brennan