Boundaries: Feeling like you’re enough while setting limits

March 21, 2016

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


You'll also love

learn more

A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

Boundaries are hard.  I am aware that one of my own shame triggers is if I perceive someone doesn't like me.  I tend to respond by making my boundaries more permeable and to over-function.  As if giving more of myself will make a person like me more.  As I reflect, I can cite numerous examples of how I have dishonored my own boundaries in fruitless attempts to feel like I am enough.  

Sadly, my lack of boundaries didn't do me or the other person any good.  One could actually argue that it was more detrimental than anything else.  For example, if I perceive that a client doesn't like me I have at times tried to give them "more" to prove my worth – more time by extending our session past the scheduled limit, more talking than listening, more handouts that "prove" I'm right.  And ~shockingly~ my shame purge isn't usually very effective.  That's because it doesn't address the real issue.  It might be simply a personality mismatch, perhaps I did something to offend the client and need to repair the relationship, or maybe I inadvertently triggered an underlying emotional issue.  Regardless, disregarding both my own and the client's boundaries by throwing more of myself at him/her isn't the solution.

Consider another scenario.  I was doing some contract work doing nutrition groups for an organization.  I wasn't getting paid in a timely manner; they were months behind on paying me.  The manager wasn't returning my calls or emails so I stopped by the office and met with her in person.  My plan was to resign – a perfectly reasonable boundary given that they were disrespecting my time and violating our contract by not paying me on time.  Instead, I left that meeting not only without a paycheck, but I also hadn't quit.  In fact, I made a pitch to do more work for them (as if making my services "more valuable" would inspire them to pay me on time).  My husband, who is very good with boundaries, helped me to see how ridiculous this was and gave me a pep talk to set the boundary and quit.  Once I did, the frustration and resentment I felt went away and were replaced with relief.  

It is apparent to me that I have some boundary issues when I am feeling shame, frustration, resentment, impatient, overwhelmed, and/or anger.  I fall into what my therapist called my "victim role."  When I am in that headspace it feels like the world is against me.  A response that further disregards my boundaries adds fuel to the fire.  

Setting boundaries is hard.  At some level I still hold on to my core belief that boundaries make me selfish, mean, or rude.  Yet the opposite is true.  Boundaries are a form of self-care and self-respect, and they allow us to be more authentic in our relationships.  If you're looking for a good read on boundaries, check out Dr. Henry Cloud's book, Boundaries.

Leave a Reply