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  • Annamaria Nemeth

Self worth and boundaries.

How do you feel about setting boundaries? Does it come easily? Do you feel bad if you have to say no, or do you feel bad because you just can’t do it? Are you a people-pleaser to the detriment of yourself? Are you treating yourself with the same respect with which you treat others?

Lots of questions for you, but I hope that they make you think about how and what you are willing to accept in life. We as humans tend to develop an armor of survival. As a result, sometimes we accept depleting situations as part of life, feeling like we have to give of ourselves in order to be worthy or feel self-worth.

This is where setting boundaries comes in. To do this effectively, keep your thinking simple, take a deep breath and search yourself for areas that need work. The most important part is doing the work to reclaim a healthy self, a wiser self, understanding that neither my worth nor yours is up for negotiation. Knowing what we each need and who we are can empower each of us with a whole new level of acceptance and compassion but can also help us define boundaries. 

Growing up in the environment I grew up in, I became aware of what people were like beyond their surface appearance. Even as a child I would try to understand the reason behind certain words and actions. I paid great attention to all details around me and picked up on anything that was under the surface; that was not part of the so-called norm. I learned trust and lack of trust. I became hyper-vigilant.

Hyper-vigilance was part of my life and in some ways I still find myself going there when the perfect storm triggers my senses. However, I am more aware of all of this now and I “check” myself: Is this anxiety based in reality, or is it just misperceived? I take deep breaths and realize that in this “here and now” I have control over my environment. 

At this point in my life I have learned that it’s important to know your self-worth and know that, no matter what, you are worthy. You must be  mindful of the negative self talk. I have learned that it can be rooted in you from your past, but it is not your past that defines you; it is the here and now. Know that you are evolving, changing, gaining a continuous sense of YOU. Give yourself permission to advance.

As we are healing we are becoming more and more aware of the new state of being we are in. This deserves the celebration and respect of knowing that we will be stronger advocates for ourselves, not allowing others to treat us as anything but what we have become. We have value and we need to honor that in ourselves first and foremost before others will. I will explain why I am saying this. The stronger spiritual self deserves the respect too.

As I became an adult I realized that boundaries  are very fragile. These boundaries offer a firm guideline to who we are and what we accept in life. If we feel “less than,” we will accept “less than.” But if we feel worthy of goodness, love, kindness, peace, joy, and prosperity, we will accept nothing less. However, we will also give nothing less. It is a beautiful sacred circle of honoring self and giving freely of all of these. God wants nothing less for us.

When you start looking around, and even at yourself, you can find which part needs you to work on it. However, ignorance is bliss, or so they say. So many walk around unaware; this, too, is somewhat a gift. For those of us who are in the know, however, it is a responsibility to self to honor yourself and those around you. 

All during our lives we develop living skills that help us along the way and in some cases these become survival skills. But what happens when these skills are no longer needed? What happens when we are in a very different place in life and we now can be safe? Those early thoughts can have a major influence on our lives.

For me, my life was always in fight or flight. I was always aware of any circumstance around me beyond what others might even see. Still today  I am in scan mode constantly. I can be in a social setting and pick up on any situation that will trigger my sense of “be aware.” This is where my fierce sense of boundaries came in when I was younger and the powerful importance having those boundaries meant for me.

Once I learned that it really is ok and healthy to set boundaries, I freed myself from the negative feelings I had in some social situations and also freed myself to enjoy those settings. I also realized that it is ok to be selective of my social environment and the people who are in my tribe. Your people should feed your growth and support your life. 

 

The term “boundaries” has negative overtones for some people. Why? A dear colleague of mine, whom I really look up to, said to me when I struggled with other people and their treatment of me, “We teach people how to treat us.” Makes a lot of sense, right? If we ourselves feel “less than,” we accept “less than” treatment.

Now, boundaries are based on the level of relationships and intimacies we have with each individual. There should be exceptions, of course, in varied forms, of how we work within these boundaries with different people. Being an empath and being so tuned to the emotional state of others, I needed to mark that boundary line between “acceptable” and “not acceptable” to protect my own well being.

 I spoke earlier in my last blog about less judgement and more compassion. This, however, is different. We can choose to be around people or choose not to be, without passing judgement. We base this on the interactions that take place. If you feel dragged down when you interact with someone, or feel odd in a certain place, you now have the choice not to be a part of that or investigate why these feelings are there and proceed accordingly. This decision makes you wise, keeps you healthy. 

Let’s revisit the changes within in us that I mentioned in my last blog. Our greatest enemy is the judgment of self: if we feel a certain way we might  perceive a certain treatment from others as something we deserve, right? We would even engage in certain behaviors that fit this belief of our self.

In the same way, while we might  surround ourselves with a tribe that supports our growth, we also could surround ourselves with a tribe that would anchor us in the negative state we might feel we are in. Then we might offer validations for our behavior even though we know it doesn’t feel right and it is not good for us. Worth comes from a belief in the self just the same as it does when we believe in others instead.

This strong perception of ourselves comes from our own thoughts. When we start challenging these patterns of thinking and then work on a more positive outlook , we start growing again. We start changing. Emotions are powerful. Emotional reasoning that is stuck in negative thinking can and will, for sure, determine a negative outcome. Ah, but the good news is that this is also valid for when we turn this around to positive affirmations about self and we start knowing our worth. Our faith grows and so does does our self worth.

As we grow, change and find our self-worth, we have more boundaries. When we are unbounded we lack the ability to trust our own core and know that we are worthy. We lose that sense of self and are constantly trying to please others. What can change that is simple.  As  we assume responsibility for self we reduce being victims of circumstance. This helps us gain a stronger sense of self and allows the development of a sense of self to keep growing and getting stronger.

So, be sure to check in with yourself often, ask yourself what is real, what is imagined. Take some deep breaths and feel deeply. Now allow these feelings to flow through you and not get stuck. Look at your situation again and have the confidence in yourself to set the firm boundaries that are needed for each situation and with each individual you may encounter. Love yourself and heal so that you can love others and have healthy relationships and connections. It is ok to say NO and it is ok to set boundaries. Acknowledge and respect the sacred self. I also know that our Faith and our God would want nothing less than for us to honor His creation. We make choices in life and those choices make us. But that being said, if we feed our soul and are true to the nature of being as well as respecting all, we cannot go wrong. That, of course, includes respecting yourself. Don’t live with dismissiveness, but live with compassion and awareness.

 





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