Having boundaries is a significant sign of having a good healthy self. If I feel good about myself, then I want to associate with people who keep that good feeling going. However, if I don’t feel good about myself, I may allow people to treat me badly, and as a result feel bad.
Here is a list of behaviors that demonstrate unhealthy boundaries. Identify which one(s) you do, and identify:
In hearing this song last night driving home, I was struck by the number people I’ve worked with over the years that this song could apply to. These men or women are in addicted/abusive/unhealthy relationships,and think that they “can’t find a better man”(or woman). These people who like the person in the song “practice their speech”, but rarely say anything to their partner about their needs. Over time, because they haven’t expressed their needs, they don’t have needs, and decide that they “can’t find a betterman, oh”.
How does this happen? In my experience, many of the people I’ve worked with come from families who have the same addiction/abuse/chaos and dysfunction. It’s what they know, so therefore they can’t find that “betterman” because they have no idea what he or she might look like. All they can find is the repeat of their family of origin. They probably have stated at least to themselves, that they hate the behavior of family members (or the family members themselves), and when they get married, there is no way in hell, that they will marry a person who acts this way. When they meet that special one, and decide to cement the partnership, it’s no surprise (to me) that they do exactly the opposite of their goal–they repeat exactly what they hate!!!? Later in the relationship, as the dysfunction grows to be destructive, “she loves him, she don’t want leave this way, she feeds him, that’s why she’ll be back again” is the day to day refrain of the relationship–the person knows nothing else.
With all of this stuck, rigid, predictble day-to-day mess, how does this person end up in my office? This is one of the most exciting and interesting parts of my day. How does the person find the courage to talk about all of this stuff when arguably they’ve never talked to anyone in their life? (“no one else needs to know, she tells herself”) What prompts them to pick up that “10,000 pound phone” and say “I need to make an appointment”? Some people come in because of other issues– anxiety, depression, their own addictive behaviors, others ask a trusted friend, “what should I do?” Some people, miraculously as it seems to me, find their way because they are “sick and tired of being sick and tired”.
The first part of the journey is their own awareness that they don’t have to feel the way they do. They have other options. They can work on having feelings and validating them. They can identify their own personal boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. They can work on communicating the feelings and the boundaries. They can work on self care!!!–how to care about my needs, my wants, and feel like a real person. This is a long process, but a rather doable one. Each step of the way is highlighted by the person examining their own behaviors, motives, and feelings to “rewire” the dysfunctional family of origin wiring, and replace it with new, healthy, self care wiring. In the end, they can find a betterman(or woman) to complement their own growth,and their own happiness.
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