By Christina Raccuia
Boundaries. We all know the word but few understand how we are affected when boundaries are either fluid or non-existent. Setting boundaries is a way to take care of and protect yourself. We need to be able to tell people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us. We have a right to, but also the duty to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us. Understanding what feels right and what feels wrong and being able to articulate the feelings in connection with this is much more difficult than allowing others to cross our boundaries and then getting upset about it and never saying anything. Why? If there were fluid or no boundaries in our homes growing up, how are we supposed to know? We may not know but we can learn.
We all have a right to our feelings and to state them out loud. Saying “I feel” is the most powerful communication. However, very often we sabotage ourselves by saying “I am angry, I am hurt, etc.” and in this way we become the feeling. Quite the reverse happens when we use “I feel”. Then, we are affirming to ourselves that we have a right to our feelings and we take responsibility for owning both our reality and ourselves.
Learning to set boundaries is to love ourselves and be a friend to ourselves. It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves. It’s vital for us to have a loving relationship with ourselves and when we do, everything changes.
Having healthy boundaries teaches us to be discerning in our choices, to ask for what we need, and to be assertive and loving in meeting our own needs. We need to start learning how to be emotionally honest with ourselves, how to start owning our feelings, and how to communicate in a direct and honest manner. Setting personal boundaries is a vital part of healthy relationships—which are not possible without communication.
The first thing we need to learn is to communicate without blaming. That means, stop saying things such as: “you make me so angry; you make me crazy; how could you do this to me after all I have done for you?”
These are the types of messages many of us got during childhood and they have distorted our perspective on our own emotional process. Often toxic shame is combined with feelings. Toxic shame involves thinking that there is something wrong with who we are. GUILT involves behavior, while SHAME is about our being. Guilt is: I did something wrong; I made a mistake. Shame is: I am a mistake; something is wrong with me.
But that shame is toxic and not ours—it never was. We did absolutely nothing to be ashamed of—we were just little kids. Just as our parents were little kids when they were wounded and shamed, and their parents before them, etc., etc. This is shame about being human, which has been passed down from generation to generation.
Let’s break the generational pattern!
No need for blame here, there are NO bad guys, only wounded souls and broken hearts. Begin loving yourself today!
Christina Winholt Raccuia is a Psychotherapist with offices at 23A West 10th Street.
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