‘The only people who get upset by you setting boundaries are those who benefited from you having none’ – Unknown
You have worked damn hard to get this healthy. Setting healthy boundaries is NOT an easy thing to do if you have never done it before. People don’t make it very easy. If you have managed to set healthy boundaries for yourself, pat yourself on your back because you have:
- Faced the fact you need healthy boundaries.
- Taken accountability for your lack of boundaries.
- Assessed with whom and where you need to set healthy boundaries.
- Learned new techniques to setting healthy boundaries.
- Taken action by setting new healthy boundaries.
- Maintained the healthy boundaries even though it would be easier to give in and go back to the way you used to do things.
Setting healthy boundaries is so SO necessary for your own sanity.
It can be as simple as saying “No” to the cashier at the grocery store who asks you to donate one dollar to the newest non profit. And it can be as difficult as finally saying “No” to your abusive parent by telling them you no longer will be at their family holiday party because you want to start your own family traditions.
I help clients set healthy boundaries for themselves often. I have set them myself as well. And in my experience, professionally and personally, I have learned that becoming aware of the need for healthy boundaries and setting the healthy boundaries (as challenging as they are) are far easier than maintaining healthy boundaries.
The reason maintaining healthy boundaries is the most difficult is because people don’t always like it when you really mean what you said about a boundary. If those close to you are used to taking advantage of you, manipulating you and getting their way with you, why would they stop? Unless you forced them to, by setting a healthy boundary.
A change in their relationship with you has taken place and it was NOT on their terms, they did NOT agree to it and they are going to lose something from this change. They don’t alway take kindly to or respect you for those changes. So you can expect some of those people to up the ante and have a bit of an adult ‘temper tantrum’ by putting extra pressure, guilt and shame on you to get you to drop the new healthy boundaries you set.
This is you LAST STEP of setting healthy boundaries; accepting the consequences (positive and negative) of setting healthy boundaries. You may lose people, and you may lose them in the most negative of ways…them throwing shade and anger your way saying ‘you’ve changed!’.
Here are 3 ways to survive the backlash of setting healthy boundaries:
Remember your reason for needing and setting healthy boundaries. You did this for a reason. Probably because you were in some sort of pain and anguish from allowing yourself to be used and taken advantage of. Remember how much it was causing you your time and energy. Remember how much resentment it created within you. Remember the shame you would feel after you allowed them to have their way, again.
Engage your support system. If you have been able to set healthy boundaries and gotten to the point of consequences you likely have one or two strong support systems. A good friend, mentor, coach or counselor. Utilize them as a listening ear to help you process through this very confusing time of consequences. The people who manipulated you and took advantage of you know you, they know the buttons to push and they are increasing their behavior. Don’t take their manipulative talents for granted, they are likely very good at what they do. Reach out to your support system and ask for coffee dates or appointments to talk it through.
Empty your bucket of fxcks and walk away; they will survive and either move on to manipulate another person another day or choose to change. Your refusal to allow them to manipulate you will not kill them. They will survive. You’re the one who has to live with yourself the rest of your life, they won’t always be around. In fact, they might leave you if they cannot benefit from manipulating you anymore. As much as that initially sucks, ask yourself, would you want them in your life if you constantly had to demand respect from them?
You will NOT change them. Let go of trying to ‘enlighten’ them to their ways, they won’t see it through you attempting to change them. They are adults, they are perfectly capable of obtaining self awareness on their own, they have to see it through their own dysfunction (just how you saw your own).
In fact, you might be doing them more of a service by NOT trying to change them than by attempting too. Allowing them to experience the loss of you might cause them to ‘wake up’ and get help. Continuing to ‘change them’ only continues to give them your attention and it blocks their ability to see through their own shit.
I have found many people shape up instead of ship out when they know you are fxcking serious about your new healthy boundaries. Yes, they throw a ‘temper tantrum’ for a bit but if you maintain your healthy boundaries, once they know the new layout they settle down.