Setting boundaries has always been something that I’ve struggled with in my life and I’ve recently had to deal with the emotional fallout of this again. In the past, when setting a boundary with people that I cared about, I often encountered resistance from them and this meant they would withdraw their love as punishment. Feeling guilty and panicked at the thought of losing their love, I would drop my boundary and give in to what they wanted, despite the cost to my own well-being. I didn’t have an awareness that this was actually emotional manipulation on their part and I was a victim of abuse. By not being able to set and maintain boundaries, I had no sense of who I was.
Through therapy, I’ve worked hard at learning to set boundaries that are about nurturing my own mental health. And I met resistance and people did withdraw their love, but I stood firm and in doing so, I started to find myself. I began to learn to live my life by my own moral compass and start to do what’s right for me.
I’m the one living my life and if I don’t set the limits and boundaries that I need to ensure I’m healthy, then who will? I know that I’m vulnerable to having guilt used against me. I know that in the past, I’d let others blame me for the unhappiness in their own lives simply because I was making choices for myself that they didn’t agree with.
Don’t ever let anyone shame you for setting boundaries in your life. You have the right and the responsibility to look out for yourself and sometimes, that means limits. It’s not about being self-centred and egotistical in a bad way but instead loving yourself enough to know that you’re worth putting yourself first.
Setting boundaries is difficult for a lot of people because most of us don’t ever want to hurt someone’s feelings and that’s what it sometimes feels like we are doing. Therapy can help you work through these kinds of challenges and help you develop strategies to incorporate into your own life and start setting boundaries for your mental and emotional well-being.
About Wendy Enberg
My name is Wendy Enberg and I live openly with mental illness. I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I reside near Edmonton, AB. I began sharing my story with others as a way to remove stigma and raise awareness and compassion for people living with mental illness. I started with a Facebook page where I posted inspirational messages. This grew into a blog about living with BPD at where I openly share my struggles and my successes. This wasn't enough. In July of 2014, I co-founded a peer support group in my community for people living with mental illness that provides online and weekly support meetings. Our membership continues to grow each day and we are gaining a presence in the mental health community.