Set Boundaries With Loved Ones

Set Boundaries With Loved Ones

It’s Alright to Set Boundaries With Loved Ones

 

I’m no stranger to online recovery forums. I find many people write in wondering how to set boundaries with their loved ones.  Whether their loved one is an addict, alcoholic, selfish, unavailable emotionally, etc., they’re just not sure what to do.

Most of the time, my answer is, “It depends” – because it does.

However, there are some common factors associated with setting boundaries and today, I’ll touch upon them.

Boundaries are very helpful in relationships of any kind.  Whether it’s your partner, child, parent, boss, friend, etc., being able to set and keep a boundary is important. If you’re not that great at it, don’t fret. Know that you’re not alone and boundary setting is a skill.  With practice, you’ll get better!

What you want and need matters

Say this with me:

“What I want and need matters.”

This sentence is a power-packed statement.  Why? Because what you want and need DOES matter. Because YOU matter, dear one!

Knowing what you want and need matters, so if you’re not sure, take some time to sit with this.  In your relationships, what do you want and need?

Trust? Respect? Unconditional love? Honesty? Affection? Security? Peace? Affirmation?

What DON’T you want?

Jealousy? Accusation? To be ignored, ridiculed, belittled, rejected, abused, substance abuse issues?

1. Tune in to your feelings

Asking yourself those questions will help you begin tapping into your feelings. This will help you learn what brings discomfort or uneasiness. Or just plain drama!  If his consistent emotional unavailability makes you feel ignored and rejected, those feelings do matter, because you matter, so it’s alright to have a conversation around this area, stating your wants and needs, and thus, setting your boundaries.

2. Be clear

When you’re setting your boundaries, be clear. Be direct.  Come from a kind heart, and not like, “Well, you better do this and this or else I’ll…..”  That sort of tone and intent might not go over very well.  For example, if you want and need some time with your friends regularly (without getting a cold shoulder or accused of cheating), go to your partner and simply state your needs and let him/her know how much you appreciate the support.  Be confident in your ability to express this want and need, because it is important to you, and YOU MATTER.

3. Say, “I deserve this.”

Give yourself permission to have boundaries.  I don’t mean that you have to have rigid rules all over the place, but you do deserve to have a relationship that has mutual boundaries that are set in a spirit of love.  If your partner is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, for example, you have permission to set some boundaries around that.  I see far too many men and women sweep things under the carpet in such situations, rather than tuning into what they want and need in a relationship (sobriety being one thing), and live in misery. 

If you’re stressed to the core because your partner is doing something that brings chaos or drama, give yourself permission to stand in your truth and speak your truth.

4. Consider the past

Did you grow up in a home where boundary setting was non-existent? Where no one talked about anything?  Did you grow up in a home where alcoholism or drug addiction was present? Many times, in such cases people grow up taking on the role of “caretaker” or people pleaser.  They let their own needs and wants go and “over-care” for others. This gets exhausting. They don’t value the principle of reciprocity, giving and giving, but not allowing themselves to receive.

What has been your past experience? What was modeled to you growing up? Take this into consideration as you learn how to tune into your needs and set boundaries in your life.

5. Allow yourself to care for yourself

Many people struggling from codependency have a tough time caring for themselves.  They’ll place others’ needs before their own, and oftentimes never get around to doing the things they would like to do. Or, they don’t even know what they like to do or need to do, because they are so wrapped up in other peoples’ worlds.  Make self-care a priority.

6. Ask for help

You may need some help when it comes to setting and keeping boundaries.  No shame in that. There are counselors, books, and support groups that are valuable.  Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and Codependents Anonymous are great support groups that will help in learning how to set boundaries.

7. Practice

Being assertive with boundary setting takes practice. Start small, and go from there. Don’t expect perfection or that it will all go as planned. In fact, you may experience some flack from others when you go to them and set a boundary. After all, they’re probably used to you NOT standing in your truth or perhaps even enabling them.  Be persistent and don’t take the flack personal. In the Bible, it says, “Be strong in the Lord, and in God’s mighty power!”  It’s alright to lean on the power of God or Universe!

Relationships need boundaries, so my hope is that you’ll continue to learn about setting and keeping boundaries with your loved ones.  It’s a process, but I assure you that you’ll get better as you practice! 

Are you struggling with boundary setting?  In what way? 

Sometimes Darkness Leads To Dawn

Sometimes Darkness Leads To Dawn

Sometimes The Dark Really Does Lead To Dawn

 

Have you ever been through a really tough time in your life and wondered if you would ever see the light? Do you know others who wrestle with depression and all sorts of other negative emotions? 

Surely, we’ve all entered periods of time when sadness, frustration, depression, or even hopelessness has worn us out and left us a mess inside.  It is quite common to struggle sometimes on this journey called life.

What do you make of those times? Do you grumble and complain your way through them?  Do you whine and cry and give yourself a big pity party?  Do you numb or deaden your pain with anesthetics like alcohol, pills, food, sex, etc.? I mean, really…

Who wants to feel pain?

Pain is part of life, yet we squelch and fight it at the first sign.  But what if darkness and pain is an opportunity for us to grow spiritually?  What if there really are blessings that come from the pain and discomfort we feel while in periods of darkness? Would we have a different perspective when those times come?  Sure, we would.

The Dark Night Of The Soul

If you study some of the spiritual men and women of the past, many of them talk about how they entered a “dark night of the soul” and how utterly wretched those times were spiritually for them.  Their struggle was not against outward things, but it was inward- in the core of their being.  They talk about feeling despair, hopelessness, and emptiness.  They cried out for relief.  They wondered why they had to go through such darkness and pondered the meaning and purpose of life.   

The dark night of the soul can be a time of transformation. It is a time of stripping away the levels of pain, frustration, anger, sadness, mistakes, etc. one by one. It is allowing something greater to awaken the spirit within so that magnificent beauty can bubble up and radiate outward into humanity.

It is a time of discovering who we are at the very essence of our souls.

This is what Pema Chodron has to say about the dark night:

In the process of discovering our true nature, the journey goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. We move down and down and down, and with us move millions of others, our companions in awakening …Right there we discover a love that will not die.”

The Dark Always Leads To Dawn

Just like the sun rises every morning after a dark night, so does LOVE rise after our dark nights.  Love is at the very core of every being on this planet. The problem is that multitudes do not feel that love nor let it ooze out of them into those around them. In fact, many people do not even love themselves because they allow layers and layers of emotional pain to cover up the river of love inside. 

Dear one, may we all view dark periods of life with a perspective that during those times we have something to learn. During the dark nights, we are facing our fears, regrets, hurts, and so much more in order to chisel through the hard layers of our past to find LOVE.

Pure, innocent, abundant, brilliant, unconditional LOVE.

Maybe we won’t be 100% lovey dovey after we’ve gotten through a dark night, but maybe we’ll have shed a layer of pain or ego. Maybe we’ll be able to love ourselves more, and others too. Maybe we’ll be able to let down our guard some and allow others in better.  Maybe we’ll allow ourselves to be more vulnerable with our partner, trusting that we’re safe.  Maybe we’ll forgive our parent(s), friends, siblings, etc. and begin connecting at a deeper level with them.

Are you seeking to grow spiritually?  Then you might expect to go through some dark nights on your journey, but fear not because pain can be a stepping stool to growth, freedom, love, joy, and a big smile. I have heard many people tell me how their shattered dreams helped them develop an inner strength and peace that they never thought they would have. I myself have battled the darkness and even though back then I didn’t believe I was growing, I can look back now and see the many ways I grew during that period.

And still today, when I’m going through a rough spot, I’m going inside, seeing how this can help me expand and grow on my path- not just for me either, but for others too.  After all, there’s a whole lot of people who need some TLC on this planet.

What Are You Struggling With?

Are you having trouble seeing your path because it is so dark?  Are you struggling with sadness, fear, depression, anger, frustration, disappointment, etc.?  If so, it might be that your negative emotions are nudging you to begin a journey within; a journey to emotional and spiritual healing.  I admonish you to endure the dark even when you are tired and frustrated, because the sun always breaks the night in all its brilliant glory and you too can experience a dawn!

 “The nearer the dawn the darker the night.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Don’t Text Your Feelings!

Don’t Text Your Feelings!

Don’t Text Your Feelings:

Ask For What You Need

 

I express myself better in writing, especially when it comes to communicating how I feel. This might be alright for a blog or casual conversation, but when it comes to trying to communicate serious feelings to my partner, texting is not the greatest idea.

When I was in a toxic relationship, I could not communicate in person when I was having a problem. The thought of conflict that would come as a result scared the heck out of me.

I hated conflict!

So, I tended to text my strong feelings when I was irked or wanted to bring something up that wasn’t settling well with me, which never ended up going very well.  I won’t go into details, but I assure you that if you’re wanting to talk about something important, the best way to communicate that issue is in person – not via text.

Even if you are sweating, shaking in your shoes, and you stutter your words out, try to share your concerns in person. Let your partner know this is a struggle for you and ask them to be patient.

Healthy relationships are founded upon solid, open, and honest communication, so if you want a healthy relationship, you must put forth effort into learning good communication tools.

A very easy thing to remember is to start off your conversations with this statement:

“I feel….”  When you do this, you own your feeling.

Do NOT start like this: “You make me feel….” When you to this, you are trying to pin your emotions on your partner.  You are responsible for your emotions.

Also, try not to use the words “always” and “never” when communicating your feelings.  They are irrational words and hardly ever true when it comes to the topic you are addressing.  Safe words are “sometimes” or “occasionally”.

For example, you could say, “Sometimes you speak to me in a rude tone and when you do, I feel devalued.”

If you send that sentence in a text, your partner has no idea if you are angry, sad, or just matter of fact.  This is one reason it is not wise to text such things.  Face to face you can calmly state your feeling to your partner, which hopefully will prompt a calm response.

I found that taking some time to process things would help me to get an adequate perspective before I tried to engage in a conversation. If I just jumped right on texting when I was angry, (and I did) nothing good ever got accomplished.

Makes me wonder what we did when there were no cell phones.

Do your best to refrain from texting when trying to resolve issues. If your partner does this, sit down and have a calm discussion. State your wants and needs when it comes to conflict resolution and do your best at following through with your plan.

I wasted so much time texting my feelings and got nowhere.  Whole days went by text, text, texting! By the end of the day we’d be exhausted and nothing got resolved.  We simply put more wedges in the relationship.

“Whatever you are willing to put up with, is exactly what you will have.” ~Anonymous

  1. Do you have a hard time setting up boundaries and keeping them?
  2. What boundaries of yours get crossed frequently?
  3. Make a list of your boundaries and keep them handy to serve as a reminder that you won’t allow anyone to cross them anymore.
  4. Here is a great lesson on setting boundaries by expert Pia Mellody: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bk_SG2QD4E

 

For The Days You Want To Give Up

For The Days You Want To Give Up

For The Days You Want To Give Up

 

“You never give up, even when you should.” ― Kelly Creagh

Whether you’re in active addiction, recovery from drinking or drugging, or codependency recovery, I assure you that there will be days when you want to give up.

Give up hope, give up caring, give up sobriety, give up thinking you’re actually able to get your life where you want it to be, give up thinking your loved one will EVER get sober, and so on.

I get it.  I know there were (and still are) some days where I wanted to pack up a suitcase and run as far away as I could from everyone and everything – somehow thinking that would actually help me feel better.

But you know what?

I learned that I could feel that “I want to give up” feeling and not have to “do” anything. 

I learned that I could just feel it, sit with it, and give myself permission to just feel crappy momentarily without having to figure out how the heck to get rid of such a feeling.

And you know what else?

It was worth it; the hanging on, I mean.

The NOT giving up.

The clinging onto that thread of hope that would someone always find me in my deepest, darkest times.

Listen, friends, there will be days when you want to give up. Where your regrets and fears will paralyze you. Where shame will tie a rope around your neck and ask you to jump. Where you’ll look around at others and see them living good lives and you wonder how in the world THEY can have it all while you’re living in misery.

Oh yeah, you’ll be tempted to give up,

But don’t. 

I’m telling you to hang on.

I’m telling you to get yourself to a space where it’s quiet, preferably outside in nature, and BE quiet with yourself for a minute. Just slow-the-eff-down for a short time and listen.

Just listen.

No, not to your ego. Not to the hamster wheel of negative thoughts running through your skull.  Not to the screams of your spouse, wicked step-parent, boss, kids, or whoever else has spewed angry words at you.

Rather, listen to the silence. The birds. The rustles of leaves blowing in the wind.

Breathe deeply a new breath of life and exhale all the garbage you want to let go.

Let go, I said.  Just.Let.Go.

And for real, let God.

Let God what, you ask? 

Let God give you the courage to carry on.  To help you feel the pain you’ve been running from and numbing…I mean really feel it and not freak out.  That pain won’t kill you. The alcohol, drugs, or lack of self-care is what may kill you!

But that emotional pain? It’s not meant to kill you. It’s not meant to make you live a miserable life. 

It’s your opportunity to stop for a moment and ask “why”?

Why am I feeling this pain? What can I do to NOT feel this pain that doesn’t involve something harmful?

And let me be clear:  This isn’t easy to do.  It’s easier to run and numb. It’s easier to stay imprisoned within yourself, wearing a mask so that others will think you’re alright.

But you CAN do it…

You must.

Consider this a definitive moment where you promise yourself to never give up again.  To NOT let your fears, your past, or your emotions cause you to keep living a life marked by addiction, codependency, lies, shame, depression, etc.

Consider today a breakthrough kind of day.

A “I’m drawing a line in the sand” kind of day!

A day where you commit to persist and carry on with faith in something bigger than you. A force greater than us all!

Call it God, Spirit, Nature, Universe, Higher Power, or whatever you want, but know that

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

And, you don’t have to keep running, numbing, or escaping.

Stay.

Stay for you, stay for me, stay for your friends and family.

Ask for help if you need; a counselor can work wonders. A friend can help ease the load.  A support group or online forum can be a lifeline.

My point is that there will be days when you want to give up.

But don’t.

 

 

 

6 Tips to Consciously Overcome a Challenge

6 Tips to Consciously Overcome a Challenge

6 Tips to Consciously Overcome a Challenge

 

I am faced with a the opportunity to overcome a challenge. Without going into details, even though they are pretty juicy, I’m experiencing more difficulties than I’d like in life right now. Yuck, right?

We all know life doesn’t go as planned. No matter how many success books you’ve read, seminars attended, prayers made to your Deity of choice…. “stuff” happens. Pain, frustration, disappointment, heartache, etc. comes knocking at your door in some form or fashion.

Now, I could stay here in this challenging time and sob my eyes out. Point fingers at all those that I feel are to blame. Call myself every negative name in the book…but I’m not.

I’ve got an opportunity to explore this situation, allow awareness to come, and learn valuable lessons about how to overcome a challenge. After all, challenges always offer opportunity for growth.

So, today, let’s take a look at some characteristics that highly conscious people have when they are facing some sort of challenge or difficulty.

1. Never give up

My ego, or shadow, has had its way the past few days. Grrr. I thought I’d healed that sucker completely. (hee hee) The reality is that I still have a ways to go. But…. in the midst of a challenge, I can surrender the white flag or adopt the attitude to NEVER GIVE UP.

I may stumble around in the dark some, but I’ll never give up on myself. I will dust myself off and keep moving forward. Times can be challenging, dear one, but you have control over your mind, and therefore, your perspective.

  • Sadness will come.
  • Frustration will come.
  • Pain will come.

But you can consciously think, “Hmmm. There’s some valuable lesson I can learn here about myself, others, God, and life. What is it?” Then, start digging. Get real and honest with yourself. Resist the urge to point fingers at others. And…Never give up.

2. Overcome a challenge: Examine thoughts and emotions

Contrast and conflict in a relationship can be brutal. How many times have you had an argument and all the emotions that got stirred in you, YOU took out on the other person? Then, after the conflict was over, and you’ve had time to sit with yourself, you realize you projected some of your own “crap” onto your partner. You, as a conscious human being, realize that the contrast was meant to an opportunity for you to learn valuable lessons about YOU, and maybe heal some wounds, but in the moment, your mind was hijacked by your wounded little boy or girl.

Ugh, right?

Now, as a highly conscious person, relationship challenges (and any challenge, really) is your opportunity to crawl up into your mind and examine what kinds of thoughts are going on there. What kinds of emotions are you feeling? See, the reality is that underneath every negative emotion (or reaction) are “fear beliefs” that are begging you to deal with them. I like to call them “fear beliefs”, because at the very root of them is usually fear of some sort.

Fear of abandonment, fear that you won’t have enough, that you AREN’T enough, fear that you will fail, and so on.

In your challenging times, when contrast or conflict comes, fearlessly make a commitment to examine your thoughts and beliefs, and choose to EXPAND… choose LOVE, choose FORGIVENESS, choose COMPASSION, choose HEALING….

Find the belief that is causing the contrast, so that you can deal with it, and clear it!

3. Refuse to stay in the negative vibrational state

Challenging times usually bring you to a state where you are feeling frustration, disappointment, fear, anger, sadness, and so on. As a highly conscious person, make a decision to refuse to stay in that state. Oh, I know it’s not easy to just flip the script from sad to glad, but if you want to change the circumstances, change your energetic level.

For me, it’s tempting to allow the situation to get and keep me down at times. After all, I lived with a victim mentality for many years, and if I’m not careful, my thoughts will go right back to that sort of mentality.

But…. I’ve also learned that it is usually my past thoughts and beliefs that landed me right smack in this challenging situation, and it’s going to be my thoughts and beliefs that get me out. (Or manifest something different or simply come to terms with the situation and a place of acceptance. )

4. Don’t judge the experience as right or wrong

An experience is just an experience. It’s not necessarily a right or wrong issue. If you’re struggling with something, try not to judge the circumstance or yourself. No right or wrong here. You’re here in this situation (relationship issue, job issue, money issue, health issue) and it’s not about right or wrong. It’s about learning lessons about yourself, God, life, people, and so on. It’s about growing, evolving, expanding, and coming to a place where you can love yourself and others more. Yes, you can learn how to overcome a challenge!

You have a choice in what words you are thinking and speaking to yourself. What are you choosing?

5. Overcome a challenge: Give up on controlling outcomes

As much as I’d like to be in control, I’m not. When I try to control outcomes, I usually end up in a negative state of mind. Why? Because most of the time, it doesn’t turn out the way I want. So, I give up on controlling outcomes. This challenging situation?

Giving up on trying to control it. Oh yeah, I will believe for the best, but I’m not going to base my happiness level on the outcome. Instead, I’m going to align with God, with Love, and I’m going to reach for those things that make me feel happy. I’m going with the flow. I’m attending to my own emotional state instead of trying to control someone else’s. I’m believing that as I detach and let go of expectations and outcomes, my highest good will show up sooner or later. This is a healthy way to overcome a challenge for sure!

You may not understand what the heck is going on right now, but trust that as you focus on ease and flow, you’ll be alright. As you focus on these tips, life will work itself out and you’ll be better for it.

Challenges will come, dear one. And, you can learn to overcome a challenge easy breezy when you practice! Determine to consciously navigate them knowing that you can be gifted with insights, lessons learned, and a strength that you didn’t even know you had! And if they don’t go as planned this time, try again next time.

It’s progress we’re after; not perfection.

This life journey is full of opportunities to learn and grow on all levels. To overcome a challenge consciously can make you feel amazing! My prayer is that you embrace any opportunity for growth, and live a life that is marked with an ever-increasing amount of peace, wisdom, and joy.

Need A Self-Esteem Boost?

Need A Self-Esteem Boost?

Self-esteem is a crucial element of the human psyche. It’s the driving force that stands behind our motivation and willingness to invest in various areas of our life. Without this invaluable element, our lives would probably be reduced to a futile chase for basic needs and nothing more. We wouldn’t invest in our personal or professional growth, we wouldn’t seek higher purposes, and we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our dreams. 

But self-esteem is like a double-edged sword. It can bring you either victory or defeat. When your self-esteem is at a low point, negative things may occur, and one of those things is codependency.

I’m using the word ‘old’ to highlight the fact that our self-esteem issues can usually be traced back somewhere during our first childhood years. Maybe:

  • Our parents or caregivers rarely took the time to praise our accomplishments
  • They were too focused on highlighting our flaws instead of our qualities
  • We were constantly told that we’re not good enough and that we’ll never be successful in life
  • One or both of our parents were alcoholics or addicts, not really able to be there for us emotionally
  • We were subjected to verbal, physical, or sexual abuse

Whatever the case may be, low self-esteem is most likely a childhood-related issue that can make life as an adult more challenging.

Unfortunately, some people think that once they reach a certain age, their self-esteem will miraculously ‘heal’. In reality, it’s the exact opposite. To be more specific, the more you live with your self-esteem issues, the worse it can get.

Slowly but surely, you’ll begin to doubt your decisions, beliefs, and opinions. You’ll think that others are smarter, better (at anything) and wiser than you, so there’s no point in trying because you’ll never reach the same level. This kind of dysfunctional thinking ‘screams’ low self-esteem and should generally be seen as a warning sign.

What’s the big deal?

But what does low self-esteem or self-worth have to do with codependency? Well, since people who struggle with low self-esteem and a ‘pathological’ lack of self-confidence, can’t trust their own thinking, they’ll most likely rely on others.

Think about it. Low self-worth makes you doubt yourself and keeps you on hold, but at the same time, you still need to satisfy your needs (basic and complex). So, what do you do?

You ‘ask’ others to take care of your needs and desires because you think this task is too much for someone so insignificant and powerless as you.

Basically, you turn yourself into a victim and give up your personal power, all because of some self-worth issues that were ‘planted’ in your head when you were too young to protect yourself from negative influences. 

But now you’re all grown up. Now you can distinguish between good and bad. You can be fully aware of your needs and desires, and work toward pursuing them. And since you’ve reached a certain level of maturity, you can start working on your self-esteem issues, which will result in a decrease of your codependent tendencies.

More on how you can begin boosting self-esteem issues down the road.