Did you ever have a conflict in a relationship that consumed your thinking? Someone who was taking advantage or doing something that affected you in a negative way. Then, when you finally get the courage to confront them and stand up for yourself; afterwards you felt worse by second guessing what you said and questioned if it was the right thing to do? This is what I call emotional backlash – When we speak our truth in a healthy way but worry about the other’s reactions. Are they mad? Did I hurt their feelings? Will they reject me forever? Was I mean? Emotional backlash can put me in a tail spin for days and sometimes I will even go back and apologize even though I did nothing wrong. Why do I always feel so guilty?
In my search for emotional growth I found this type guilt is unmerited and invalid. It was driving my decisions, and ultimately my life – but how do I change it?
Boundaries are a great start. My first step is to identify my personal boundaries; what is my responsibility and the responsibility of others. I’m I responsible for someone’s emotional state.? If I treated them inappropriately; my responsibility is to apologize; what they choose to do then is their responsibility. My feelings/ my responsibility -their feelings/ their responsibility. When I take responsibility for their feelings it’s a boundary issue, I have crossed my boundary over into theirs.
As a single mom boundaries can be tough. We are usually being pulled in many directions and just don’t want to rock the boat. We may also feel our child is having a hard time and we just want to help them feel better. We may even take on the responsibility for their emotional state and tend to say “yes” when we should say “no”.
Survival is sometimes the primary purpose of a single mom. To make a change and stand up for ourselves without a support system can be very hard, but not impossible. Although challenging at first, boundaries will give you the strength and time to do the things that are important. When we have no boundaries we are constantly pleasing everyone but ourselves – our needs never getting met and ultimately burning out, sometimes turning to unhealthy things to make us feel better. Boundaries create a more manageable focused life. Instead of your life running you – you are running it. Don’t you and your kids need that?
Yes, we may make someone angry and others will reject us, but if they truly care they will always remain in the relationship. Surround yourself with people who respect your boundaries and honor your “no”. You deserve that! Give it to yourself today!
Recommended read: BOUNDARIES, by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend (at any library)
Written by Renee Blankenship