“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how to use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won't accept.” –Anna Taylor

I spent way too much of my life not understanding this. I was aware of healthy boundaries as it applied to physical things like someone invading my personal space, but I knew very little of healthy emotional boundaries. Being a “people pleaser” only complicated this. I’m also a “people lover” and desired to help others from a young age. Without realizing it, I took on the emotions of others as if they were mine. This got jumbled up into one big mess leaving me vulnerable in many ways.

I remember the first time I heard, “No is a complete sentence,” I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Simply say, “no” with zero explanation? That was completely contrary to most other messages I had heard. If I could not do something for someone or go to an event, I always ended up feeling I needed to explain in great detail, so the person would understand why I was saying “no.” This left me open to judgment and criticism when my explanation didn’t match the expectations of the other. This left me feeling “bad” and doubting myself.

One of the things that helped set me free was learning that not setting healthy boundaries actually isn’t good for the other person either. I’m certain I invaded others’ emotional boundaries before I ever understood. I let people hurt me emotionally because I didn’t know how to protect myself with healthy boundaries. Had I created them, it would have taught them that I would not accept their behavior.

I am still learning, but I am better at setting healthy boundaries now. It has cost me loss of relationships, but I’ve gained back parts of myself in the process. I have gained confidence and freedom to be more of my authentic self. It helped me to care for myself better and learn to love myself, which I had formerly found very difficult to do.

My 12-Step sponsor reminds me I only have so many “energy sticks” in the course of a day. Setting healthy boundaries helps me to use my energy more wisely. Sometimes, I talk very judgmentally to myself, then the one I need to set healthy boundaries with is my self.

How are you doing with healthy boundaries? Do you find yourself giving away too much time and energy and are depleted as a result? Do you find that you are allowing others (or your own self) to treat you in an unloving, unhealthy way? Do you find yourself needing to “over explain” when saying, NO?

As you set appropriate healthy boundaries you show great love to yourself and teach others at the same time!

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.