BLOG

buzz word “boundaries”

The word boundaries comes up a lot, especially when I am talking to someone about their parents.

As you know if you’ve been following me for a while, this is my topic of choice, the parent topic (or those that raised you.)

It’s #1 for me because it is the root, the birthplace of all the beliefs and conditioning we’ve experienced, which has shaped our perception of ourselves and how we relate to everything around us. The big one being how we relate to receiving love.

So, the way I typically hear people talking about boundaries is something like this…

“I needed to put up a boundary with my Mom and tell her that I wasn’t coming home for Christmas this year, because it’s just too much for me. I never have a good time over Christmas because she will control everything and inevitably we will get into a fight, and it’s just not fun.”

“I told my Mom that we need to change our relationship, that I needed to put a boundary because she depends on me too much. So I told her I can’t speak to her as much because it’s consuming my life.”

“I told my Dad that I can no longer support him. I need to put up a boundary because he is taking advantage of my generosity and it’s affecting my relationship with my wife.”

Here’s a nuance that most people aren’t taught about creating boundaries.

If you create a boundary that cuts off the flow of connection and love, no one wins. In every single one of the examples above, the connection and love was cut off.

I recognize that these examples may seem simple but the point I’m making is this…

…when we haven’t reflected on why the dynamic within that relationship exists in the first place, and our deeper role in it, we tend to put the blame on the other person and label the relationship as “unhealthy”.

When we create a boundary from this place nothing gets healed in the long run. All we’ve done is put up a wall around our heart.

In the short run you may feel some relief, less consumed, you might even feel a little more at peace, but what also comes with it is a fear of intimacy and a fear of true connection. Because love is now associated with pain, hurt, and overwhelm.

To me there is another way.

There is a way to create what is called Sacred Boundaries, where the flow of love and connection isn’t cut off, but rather nurtured in the process. Doesn’t that sound good?

The catch is it requires you to do some inner work, to uncover emotions that have been potentially tucked away for years, and to get really honest with yourself.

Here’s an example of what a Sacred Boundary could look like…

“Mom, when I was little I watched you and Dad fight a lot. I remember thinking, even as early as 8 years old, “I would be devastated if they got a divorce.” I was so afraid of what would happen to me and our family.

So, I decided I was going to fix your relationship and make sure you stayed together.

And since then, almost every fight you’ve had with Dad, I’ve gotten involved. Sometimes I would call you and notice in your voice that you both were fighting and I would step in. Sometimes you would involve me.

Either way it’s not healthy or good for me; it’s actually hurting me a lot because for days I’m unhappy until you both are happy again. I can’t even seem to live my life during that time period.

Honestly it feels like a huge burden in my life. So I am realizing that I no longer want to play that role anymore because it’s not letting me be your daughter. I am always your meditator or coach.

Playing that role isn’t allowing me to receive your love like I need, as your daughter, because I keep thinking I have to be there for you instead of allowing you to be there for me.

There are days we get off the phone and you haven’t asked me one question about my life and I haven’t allowed myself to say anything about my life, and that feels horrible.

So, I want a different relationship. I want a relationship where I feel taken care of, where I allow myself to let you into my life, to ask for your advice, or just to hear “I love you.” A relationship where I’m no longer your coach or someone that needs to save you or your marriage.”

Can you see the difference?

The main intention behind creating a Sacred Boundary is that we are not trying to change their behavior or ours by putting something in between. That feels forced.

The intention is to express the depths of what is occurring for us, and be open to them understanding us more and us understanding them more. Then establishing a new way of being that supports us.

Here are some empowering questions to ask yourself in the process of creating a Sacred Boundary.

Why do I keep choosing to relate this way? What am I getting out of it?

I chose a way of being as a child, watching my parents, that I didn’t even know I chose. What is that? What has me feeling so attached to that way of being?

What emotions (i.e. hurt, in pain, burdened, upset) have I been feeling but have never expressed?

Now, there are even more nuances to creating Sacred Boundaries, but what I’m trying to convey here, as a way to simplify it all, is we need to ask harder questions of ourselves before we create a boundary.

And…

The biggest question to ask of ourselves is…

Do I feel more free, more at peace, more loved through creating this space, this boundary?

Do I feel closer to myself and more connected?

Can you relate to this? I’d love to hear from you. In the comments below, let me know how you’ve approached establishing boundaries in your relationships.

 

In Love,
Kavita

WANT MORE STUFF LIKE THIS?

Sign up for free updates

SHARE THIS POST

  • Felicia A. Vidito

    After reading your blog, Kavita, I am still stuck in the old tried and true. And I know full well, having taken your SLL course that what I resist persists. 🙂
    I’m not even comfortable talking to my parents. Small talk? Sure. Serious, love based stuff? Nope. Even this morning I commented to my coworker something I’ve been noticing each day. When I leave for work I always tell my cat that I love her. But I never say this to my mom or to my dad. Made me take a long hard look at my perception of things and I know this needs to change before they’re gone and I never get that chance again.
    Working myself up to it. Slowly but surely. God will get me there. If He led me to it, He will see me through it. <3

    • Nancy Flentie

      Felicia, I was just thinking that as I read the post. It is not easy to have those conversations AT ALL. As a former therapist, I know this all too well. Working yourself up to it is the best way…I suggest starting with something positive. Something that you appreciate about your parents (but don’t expect these conversations to be easy either). For example, “mom, I appreciate how supportive you are whenever I tell you about my future plans, that means a lot to me.” I hope this helps you 🙂 good luck.

      • http://kavitajpatel.com Kavita J Patel

        Nancy, thanks for supporting Felicia.

    • http://kavitajpatel.com Kavita J Patel

      Hi Felicia, yes it isn’t easy because it is a totally new way of being with them for you. So agreed, and I know you can. Ask yourself why is it so hard to tell them you love them? Do they say they love you? How does it feel when they do or don’t say it?

  • Laura

    Agree that “boundary” stories which involve relatively healthy adults, whether related or not, generally come from a space of disconnect – consciously putting distance between people. There is a spoken (or unspoken) perception of being forced to disconnect for one’s own well being. This perception connotes something is irretrievable and “wrong” with a person when another must “protect” themselves from relating with them. My experience with this is some of your stated boundary examples may function as substitutes or quick fixes for the discomfort, self inquiry, effort and time it would involve to determine how one feels, walk in anothers’ shoes and create/offer a solution/compromise to the other person. There’s a lot of vulnerability and accountability owning one’s part in a “relationship”, especially if there is or has been unresolved frustrations and conflicts, in a way which lets the other person know that they matter to you. Matter enough to invest in expressing and understanding what is going on for and between the individuals in relationship. My experience with dysfunctional family dynamics, is most of the time members don’t know how (skill deficit), have never observed nor learned to deal with conflicts other than cut off, nor familiar with expressing and sharing feelings openly without resorting to dumping negative emotions, externalizing problems and then blaming the other person. Frustration, hurt and anger can seem to “win” the day. Perhaps it’s just what is familiar. There seem to be a lot of people throwing around psychiatric diagnoses to explain broken relationships and justify distancing or ending relationships. That said there are a few situations where boundaries without a lot of explanation or self inquiry may be required. Situations that include domestic violence, sociopathy, severe substance abuse-addiction, criminality, sexual abuse or a consistent pattern of emotional abuse require more cut and dried boundaries. These are risky and damaging conditions to expose yourself to. Generally, those who are actively perpetrating or afflicted by these conditions have limited insight or empathy to respond to what another feels, wants or needs to be cared for and safe.
    I would hope people are able to discern the difference between severe circumstances and the challenges of getting along with another person during occasional challenging situations. Continuing to invest in efforts to remain open hearted and close despite differing perspectives and perception/experiences. Rather than associate those in the minority who suffer a true lack of will/interest and/or mental health conditions that results in serious harm, with the majority of people in troubled relationships that just need an investment of caring attention and the will to be vulnerable and remain connected. Any help your work offers in terms of methods and examples is valuable and appreciated. Heart connections are what give much of the meaning to life.

  • Emilia Eneva Nagy

    Hi Kavita!!! I love the phrase “sacred boundary” it goes so well with “sacred partnership.” I love the idea of keeping the love flowing. In my situation being vulnerable and expressing my needs this way did not work. I had to do it the “cut off the love and the rest” way for a time. Now some love flows but it’s limited. I honestly don’t miss the love because it came with so much abuse. Do you find that when parents have high narcissistic traits or are unable/unwilling to connect emotionally to their adult son or daughter, that this approach works?

    • http://kavitajpatel.com Kavita J Patel

      Hi Emilia, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I don’t actually believe narcissistic tendencies have anything to do with this. Sacred boundaries is about being self expressed, and understanding the other for your own freedom (not for them). The parents don’t need to change or be different because we don’t have a say in that, which is where I see most people get stuck or get drawn in by narcissistic tendencies (they feel they can change them or make them happy). In fact in this space you are choosing you, without cutting off love, and that can even be that you don’t talk to them for a while. It’s just not coming out of the feeling of they are toxic or bad. Truth is you come from them and when you cut of the love because you think of them that way, you aren’t free because you are resisting parts of yourself too.

  • CayMF

    Hi, I hear these words I see you right then and they still want to have this relationship with my mother. However, I’ve tried to have this conversation with her before. I tell her I love her every time I talk to her and she never says it back. And when I say never, I mean absolutely never. Even when I tell her it’s important I hear it she still doesn’t. She won’t give me anything. She was not nurturing when I was little she was frightening. She was very self-involved. And still is. I have struggled with wanting to detach from her and put up a boundary and the feeling that I need to be a good daughter and be there for her even though she’s not there for me emotionally. It makes me feel sick with sadness when things are bad and I want them to be good but how do you make things good When someone just doesn’t care?

    • Kristina

      CayMF, I am struggeling with it to. I managed 3x (true to say, once with help of Kavita) -once with a group of powerful feeling (the win was 50/50, but on the real way, it was still a fraud that had been done to me), another once with along term male friend guy who was intrusive (and obviously used me little) – he dropped when I put my boundary. Friendship gone. Immediately. Another time with a long term femal friend -who also dropped. Immediately. Basicaly, nobody cared. But they let me from their “energy influence”. Unfortunately, parents don´t drop that fast……what helps me: I learn not to want things to be good anymore. I want to be free (I don´t know how to do it….I coach mother, try to get her another job…., friends….give to her, give to her in order she lets me free (or give to me)….nothing works. She is the queen. Perhaps only love works 🙂 Forced to learn to “love, respect” the narcissist.

    • http://kavitajpatel.com Kavita J Patel

      CayMF, thank you so much for sharing and writing here. Do you know why it is so hard for your mom to say I love you or be affectionate? Do you know what she went through to cause her to be this way and believe what she believes? These are good questions to ask if you don’t. Once you fully understand, what happens is you get even as a child that her way of being had nothing to do with you. You get to un-attach which then has you see you don’t have to prove to her that you are good daughter, but you give yourself that. Truth is if she didn’t love you, there would be no way you exist today. I get that it’s hard with her though. I am just committed to your freedom.

  • Kristina

    “Do I feel more free, more at peace, more loved through creating this space, this boundary?” -very beautiful. Thank you, Kavita ! Anytime I decide to creat boundaries and cut off the flow from my mother, I get more hurt (by her…she revanges), but also to me it is hurtful -it does not help with her, I feel that she gets even more angry, and I am scared to lose the support from her (as the little, abused child who had not healed yet). Nobody wins.I also don´t think of her to win, I think of myself to stop her intrusion etc.
    Anytime I manage to “get into this flow of love” space, I get protected, more healed and she lets me free (once she even helped me). I want to try this with a request of receiving back a part of the property she had stolen from me many years ago. I am sure that my request will bring such a distress in me, it will make her revangeous, but when I don´t try it, I will lose anyway. Not sure yet how I can bring up this boundary -it scares me so ,much that I am not there yet, that I will not be able to put the sacred boundary and don´t stop the flow of connection to this woman. Maybe, I must find a good time: when I feel some connection to her. Don´t do it in anger or as an obligation of myself to assert myself finally.
    Don´t cut off the connection and flow of love, but do it anyway.

    • http://kavitajpatel.com Kavita J Patel

      Kristina, thank you so much for writing me and sharing. It’s a big question for a short comment here. Do you know why she felt the needed to take the property in the first place? This is the first place to really understand for yourself, so you get her motivation. Really be curious in asking her this, so you fully see all of her beliefs playing out. Also, does she know how it made you feel? Meaning vulnerably meaning how it effected you? Maybe you did and it didn’t matter, if so then more info on why she took it is essential.

      • Kristina

        Thank you a lot, Kavita !