Ready to overcome divorce trauma and start setting boundaries for a healthier and happier life? I love the topic of boundaries because it’s so rich. I hope to cover something today that’s new and maybe a little different, as sometimes we just need to hear things from a new perspective for them to click.
If we say: “This is not OK with me,” and we aren’t met with a positive response, it hurts.
What Are Boundaries?Boundaries are meant to be a beautiful expression of your authentic self. Brene Brown is someone who really helped me understand so much about boundaries when she said: “In its simplified version, a boundary is what’s OK and what’s not OK, for you.”
“In its simplified version, a boundary is what’s OK and what’s not OK, for you.”
Feeling Disconnected From YourselfIt’s vital to understand that divorce is a symptom of being really disconnected or separated from the truth of who you are. Over the years, so many women have said to me: “I lost myself in this marriage.” As a Trauma-Informed Therapist and Divorce Coach, I know that losing yourself often happens before marriage. Part of the divorce trauma healing process is the regaining of self, the reorienting of self, and the re-knowing of self. Just like when you have a cold, the obvious symptoms are a sore throat and a stuffy nose. When you’re getting a divorce, the obvious symptom is you have been operating in a separateness from your true self – and, to a certain extent, separate from God, or higher power as you understand it. It’s impossible to talk about setting boundaries without acknowledging that boundaries are an expression of the truth of who you are.
“Boundaries are an expression of the truth of who you are.”
How to Set Boundaries in a RelationshipSetting boundaries has two steps, which seem simple but can be daunting.
- Step One: Understand your boundary. What is OK and what is not OK?
- Step Two: Learn how to express the boundary.
“What happens when I say this?”There is a huge difference between knowing you need to set boundaries and actually setting them. This is because when we express the boundary, it sometimes comes with separation or creation of ‘space’ between you and another person. A lot of people will not love your truth because it will change the parameters of the relationship. However, we have this love-hate relationship with this space. We need this space.
“Boundaries are a beautiful thing that helps create some space in relationships where there is some stuff going on that isn’t working for you.”
I Just Want to Be Loved
“This is not OK with me.”In this scenario, we start to question our boundaries and the relationships we have with people. We ask ourselves, “Why don’t you love the thing that I know is so good for my true self? Why aren’t you loving this with me? Why don’t you get it?” It takes courage to set boundaries because disappointing people or making someone angry is uncomfortable. But, this is just a part of the process. You’re not getting it wrong. It’s just an adjustment.
Live Your TruthSticking with your true self rather than exchanging your truth for somebody else’s version of you is a tough process. Once you’ve expressed the boundary, the next step is to take responsibility for the boundary.
“Take responsibility for setting boundaries.”Often we think that the hardest part of this journey will be others adapting to our boundaries, but in reality, the hard work is for us to manage this process. You have to be so fiercely loyal to your truth that you’re not expecting someone else to adapt to it. If you’ve created a boundary that has a built-in expectation of somebody else into it, it’s a flawed premise. If I have set a boundary that says that I’m not OK being in an intimate relationship with someone who can’t be sensitive to my worries, my pains, my emotional needs, sit lovingly next to me even when they disagree with me, then the responsibility is on me to take a step back if they can’t do that. I can’t expect them to be different.
“I am the one who has to step back.”
What Are Healthy Boundaries?Healthy boundaries are the ones that hinge on empowerment. They hinge on trusting that you are on this journey to reconnect, to be reunited with your true self, and to be really in tune with your higher power. When we are triggered or offended by someone crossing a boundary, our focus is pulled from the problem. You ruminate on the details: “I just don’t understand. Why can’t they…? I told my ex to drop off at 7 pm, and they never come at 7 pm!” In this scenario, you are being pulled away from that rock of empowerment. This whole journey is about you finding, creating, and cultivating a life of true love, joy, self-acceptance, and harmony – separate from what your ex is doing.
What Does Setting Boundaries Do For You?Healthy boundaries allow us to turn away from all the drama. It allows us to create some space so we can focus on ourselves and do our own healing work. Many women have said to me, “I just want to focus on my kids, on my job and building a happy home and I don’t need to focus on myself. I just want to do better for them and I just want a happy life.”
“I just want to focus on creating a happy life.”In these conversations, I respond, “If you don’t do the work of setting boundaries for yourself and your divorce trauma healing process, you will unconsciously hand down these same limiting beliefs and relationship traumas to your children – even when that is the opposite of your intention.” If you don’t learn to set these beautiful, healthy boundaries and be willing to champion them yourself, then you will transfer this to your tiny humans. If you don’t set these beautiful boundaries that will take care of your needs and your desires, you will keep attracting the same style of relationships.
What Are Boundaries in Relationships?What are normal boundaries in relationships? Healthy relationship boundaries are an expression of your true self, which is knowing what you like, what you don’t like, what you want and don’t want, what is OK, what is not OK, and what brings you joy.
“Healthy relationship boundaries are knowing what’s OK, and what’s not OK.”Boundaries will be different for everyone. When we start a relationship, we start giving away little pieces of ourselves in order to keep the relationship. We surrender our connection with ourselves to maintain a relationship with someone else, and this is how the separation from the self happens over and over again.
Healthy Relationship BoundariesHealthy relationship boundaries have a lot to do with how you stick to the truth of who you are. For example, I love waking up without an alarm clock. I love reading. I love coffee on the patio, and I love going to yoga. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a relationship. I will keep doing the things that I love. I won’t stop ‘being me’ because I want to be with you. These are the types of healthy relationship boundaries that a woman needs to have so that she doesn’t get lost in her relationship with her significant other, with her children, with her family, or with her employer.
“Sticking to your healthy relationship boundaries is important for you.”Women tend to be nurturers and caretakers. When you are always looking after everyone else, your relationship with yourself becomes lost. In this scenario, we are no longer standing in our power and no longer feeling confident and in charge of ourselves. Often, we stop coming from an open heart and instead come from a place of exhaustion and fear. The feeling is that there is not enough: not enough of yourself, time, money, and not enough space. When it comes to this point, we have truly separated from ourselves. To come back from this place, we start with a boundary: knowing what’s OK and what’s not OK and expressing that. When this first step is complete, you then need to be able to champion it for yourself and the people in your corner. You have your girlfriends, your therapist, your people who are saying, “You’ve got this! We see you clearly.” I can see you clearly. I can see that you have so much strength and power and that you’ve just been giving it away. Healthy boundaries are a way to take it back. A way to say, “I will be over here, standing in my power and trusting that if I do this enough times, I will feel strong as f%#!”
Setting Boundaries Takes PracticeThink of setting boundaries as a new skill. For example, I did a pull-up today at the gym. It didn’t happen immediately, and I didn’t expect it to. It took me six months of training consistently to feel strong and achieve my pull-up. It’s the same concept with boundaries.
- We have to stand in our power enough times that we feel strong enough to do it.
- Give yourself time and grace, and allow guides to coach you into those places.
- When you notice that you’re focused more on what somebody did to step over your boundary, versus what you can do to stay true to your boundary, know that your gaze has shifted to the wrong place.