Why Setting Personal Boundaries is Not as Easy as it Sounds


dysfunctional families“I learned to set boundaries by realizing where they were missing in my life. I learned where they were missing in my life by seeing the truth about abuse etc. As long as my value was in question (by me as a result of the way I had been defined) I could not set boundaries.”  Darlene Ouimet

I googled the key words “setting personal boundaries” and the top info I found on it included understanding the abusers and not judging or placing blame on them because after all, we are all wounded souls! No wonder we have so much trouble healing from abuse! Oh it all sounds so lovely, but the truth is that I healed by setting ALL that aside after trying it that way for well over 20 years with the main result being that the depressions only increased and my boundaries got weaker. (see the links at the end of this post)

Have you ever thought about why setting personal boundaries is so dang hard in the first place? Here in Emerging from Broken, I always talk about how everything has a root. Depression starts somewhere. We are not born with low self esteem. And it is the root of both those things that makes setting personal boundaries so hard!

When I was defined as “not good enough” or “not worthy” by the actions of others in my life, it is understandable that I believed that definition of “me”. And as long as I believed that the definition of me was correct, I didn’t believe I had a right to HAVE boundaries.  I didn’t believe that I had a choice in my own life about what kind of treatment I had to accept. I didn’t understand that I was being treated badly and that I had a right to say no to that treatment. 

There was a root to why I had no idea what setting a personal boundary meant. The very foundation of setting boundaries was totally foreign to me.

In order to understand the concept of setting a personal boundary, I had to look at the ways that I had been defined by others and by the actions of others.  I looked back into my childhood for the answers to those questions. I looked at traumatic memories such as being ignored and dismissed and I looked at memories of being harmed and abused and at the messages that I received as a result of those events. I had been defined by those events as unimportant, unlovable and unworthy all throughout my childhood.  

Some examples that I have written about in the past are when my parents didn’t protect me from a teacher who was picking on me; By their inaction I was defined as a whiner and a story teller and exaggerator. I was defined as not respecting my elders. I was defined as “the problem”.  The teacher was ignored and left alone. Not even addressed (until my doctor stepped in). That delivered a message to me too.

When I was sexually assaulted by my mothers boyfriend and told it was because I had “a crush” on him, I was defined as the one who brought it on myself. I was defined as someone who was “sending messages to attract grown men to come to my bed”.  And I added that message to all the other times before that I had been sexually assaulted.  I was defined as “the problem”.  I was blamed and learned to accept the blame!

When I took a bite out of a cupcake and tried to hide it by covering it with extra icing, I was punished and my friend was sent home and that time I really had done something wrong so I took that as proof that I really was “bad” and I applied that “proof” to all the times that I was punished for things that really were not my fault and to all the times that I had been beaten because my mother was in a bad mood and the conclusions that I came up with were always that it really was “me” and that I was unworthy of  love; I was unworthy and bad. And if it really was ME then I deserved all the “abuse” that I received, but I didn’t call it abuse. I believed I brought it on myself. And since I agreed with all these false definitions of me, and I agreed that whatever happened to me was my fault, that I could not do anything right, that I attracted abuse, and that the teacher didn’t like me because I was unlikeable, I never knew that I could HAVE a personal boundary.

I had to look at all these things in order to realize that the things I believed about myself were lies. My value was no less than anyone else’s value. But until  I looked at the roots of where my self esteem got damaged and where my lack of worth came from and how I had BEEN defined in the first place, I could not change the root belief so that I could SET a personal boundary.

Please share your thoughts on the difficult subject of setting personal boundaries and remember that you are welcome to use any name you wish in the comment form.

It may help you to check out the links I have posted to the three stories I refer to. (the coloured bold print is live linked to the stories, just click those words)

 Here is the link to the website that I mentioned earlier. I don’t recommend you reading this website other than to see the typical ways that we are encouraged NOT to look at the truth of this stuff but instead are encouraged not to place blame or hold people accountable because somehow it is better for us to skip that part. I got stuck there for many many years. It didn’t take me very long to achieve all my recovery goals when I stopped trying not to place blame where blame belonged and I live my life today free of emotional pain and resentment. I am free of depression and dissociation. I set healthy boundaries. I have wonderful relationships based on equal value for all parties in the relationship. I sleep great and I laugh often and I know how to love and accept love.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


312 response to "Why Setting Personal Boundaries is Not as Easy as it Sounds"

  1. By: Melinda Posted: 9th April

    Boundaries are VERY important. In 2013, I had an epiphany…I finally learned that I had to stop letting people treat me badly.
    Now more than ever, I have to stand firm in what I believe and stand up for myself.

    So much of what you write brings me comfort, Darlene. It helps me to see that I’m not alone and that I need to fight for myself because I matter.

    This is how I want to set boundaries in my life:

    -Surround myself with positive people…anyone who treats me badly is no longer welcome in my life

    -Be protective of my time, resources and mental/emotional health

    -Learn to spot abusive people and avoid them

    -Affirm myself as worthy of love, respect and kindness because I am a loving, respectful and kind person

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