Ever hear that bullying voice playing like a looped record in your mind? The one whose greatest hits include, "You're such a pathetic loser! What a cow! You're so stupid? You're not good enough!"
Whether it's these exact words or a similar tune, many of us have experienced the feelings and choices that come along with them, but not all of us know how to stand up to them.
We nurture compassion within ourselves when we create a different voice through showing kindness and concern for ourself when experiencing stressful thoughts, feelings, and circumstances. Cultivating our inner cheerleader vs. feeding the inner bully motivates us to make healthier choices, which reinforces a feeling of empowerment and resilience in the midst of stress and anxiety.
Self-compassion is like being with the friend who reminds us that our worth as a human being is not determined by the events we experience, or the feelings and thoughts we have about them - they don't define us. It says, "I see you fell and scraped your knees a bunch and it hurts, but scraping your knees doesn't mean you are broken. It means you fell and you will heal. So bring on the peroxide and ointment!" This same perspective can be applied to any challenge we face enabling us to mindfully shift our response each time that nagging voice pumps up the volume.
By becoming more aware of our feelings and experiences - without the critical judgement - we feel calmer, more trusting, and more open to life. We open the lines for true communication and deeper connection in all of our relationships. Instead of reacting to ourselves and others with harsh judgement, we can more easily accept our humanness. Recognizing our shared vulnerability affords us the opportunity to connect and build intimacy with ourselves and in our relationships.
So, next time those pesky negative thoughts arise, invite that friendly voice to pop in and say, "This is where I'm at right now. It's not who am I, it's simply an experience I'm having, and this is how I choose to support myself through it." The more we take the time to mindfully and compassionately explore our internal landscape, the more healthy choices we can make for ourselves and others.
Written by 7 Cups Therapist, Jamie Rautenberg, LCSW
Do you ever feel like you do not know where you begin and another person ends? Are you the rescuer type? Do you constantly feel worn out and suffocated? Boundary setting is something you may need to work on if you can identify with those statements.
First of all, when you try to set boundaries, do not do it when you are angry. You are more likely to go overboard and set your partner a task of cleaning the kitchen every day for a whole year (if you know what I mean!!) It is helpful to use very few words and be specific when you communicate so he or anyone else you’re working on boundary setting does not feel attacked. Avoid rationalising, and apologising. Do not feel ashamed or afraid when you set boundaries too. Also, learn to listen closely to yourself. Do not let the barrier of shame restrict you from taking care of yourself. If you feel victimised, suffocated, or threatened by others, you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you.
Sometimes, others may not like the new “You” because they feel defeated and may not be able to manipulate you or push your buttons. That is their issue and part of boundary setting is not taking that on as your problem too. You may want to specify consequences and give ultimatums in order to enforce the boundaries - what is it that is and is not acceptable about your parent/partner/friends behaviour?
A certain type of readiness is needed to be able to set boundaries. If you are not ready, you will not be able to enforce it either. It is connected to your growth and insight and as soon as you realise that there is a need for it and you cannot tolerate other people negatively impacting your life you will be ready to enforce it. Learn to identify what you like and don’t like and what brings you pleasure so you will start engaging in self-nurturing activities and will not feel guilty if you take care of your needs. Once you form a healthy boundary, you will notice that you will be able to enjoy and experience life more.
You’ll be able to feel happy knowing that these limits you’re setting are not to harm people but they are there to take care of YOU. After all, studies have shown that people feel more comfortable in the presence of people with healthy boundaries. Boundaries help us to develop intimate relationships so once you set them you’ll see that you blossom into maturity too and you’re able to handle relationships with more ease too. Healthy boundaries help us to withstand manipulation and empower us to welcome the good things into our lives!
Do you have any stories to share about your own boundary setting experiences too? Often the healing is found in feeling like you’re not alone too.
Written by 7 Cups Therapist, Lisa Wilson, Bsc (Psych), Dip Cert (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), Dip Cert (Couns)
Lisa's 7 Cups Profile: https://www.7cups.com/@OceanCounselling