How guilt sabotages boundaries!

You may believe that boundaries are only needed in your romantic relationships but that’s not true.


There is a saying:  How you do anything is how you do everything which means that if you have flimsy or no boundaries in your romantic relationships chances are that you also have flimsy or no boundaries with your boss/co-workers, friends, and even family members.


Relationships show us the parts of ourselves that we need to heal and fortunately we live in a loving universe that is always showing that to us.  


I’ll share a personal story of how this showed up for me in my family.

Last year one of my adult girls moved with her young family to live closer to me.  I have always had a strong bond with her but her tween and teen years were painful for her and me as her mom.  I always had pangs of guilt that would show up but it was easy to push it down and not deal with it because….. well, out of sight out of mind. 


The problem with this

Eventually those feelings need to be looked at.  Suppressed feelings and their associated emotion cause blocks in the flow of our life. They are also stored in our bodies which eventually will manifest in dis-ease causing disease. 

What I want to address in this article are the blocks in the flow of life; specifically boundaries.  There are two reasons someone may struggle with boundaries.

     1.  over-compensation because of guilt, and

     2.  fear of what they will lose.

Let’s talk about ……

No boundaries due to over-compensation because of guilt

When my daughter and my grandkids moved close to me, naturally I wanted to help them as much as I could.  However my help was not really helpful.  It was only helpful short term and it caused me to over-give of my time, my money, my energy, and it exhausted me mentally and emotionally.  

I knew how this over-giving was affecting me, yet I continued on because I wanted to help her become stable so she and her partner could start creating something wonderful for their young family.

Sounds like something any parent would do to help their children…. or would they?

The boiling point

It all came to a boiling-over point for me when they announced that they were thinking of moving back to where they had moved from.  A place that they said lacked the opportunities they needed for work, and the family support she needed.

I was really really upset about this.  Besides the obvious; I wanted her and my grandkids to be close to me, I also recognized that there was something deeper than that.  It wasn’t that I had poured so much of myself into helping them.  It was something buried deep. 

Because of her troubled teen years I didn’t have her at home with me from the time she was 15 years old.  Having her here with me meant I had the opportunity to have a second chance at being there for her because I felt tremendous guilt that I had failed her as a child.

I am the queen of boundaries and am always teaching others that we have to take care of ourselves first and we give from the over-flow. I didn’t do that.  

The words, ‘I’m not able to help you with that’ were never said. It was always, ‘yes’ regardless of what I had going on.  I also jumped in so many times to offer my help without ever being asked so she didn’t have to figure stuff out on her own which to me was being helpful because she already had so much stress in her life.

Her stresses also triggered things in me that I needed to look at.  

A side note:  when you look at things that trigger you with people close to you, you start to see patterns within yourself that are also interwoven with the other person.

Both are classic examples of having no boundaries.  Both are classic examples of how we over-give to try to save others which only stalls their own growth.

I recognize my pattern of over-giving and having no boundaries because of something I felt guilty for.  I also experienced this in two of my past relationships.

We want to make up for harm we believe we caused another.  In my opinion people-pleasing and over-giving is NOT the way.

How to heal this.

This is exactly what I did to heal this and you can too.

     1.  Forgive yourself. 

You are always doing the best you can with where you are in your life.  Your intention is never to hurt someone but sometimes actions and things said do hurt others.  It doesn’t make you a bad person and the fact that you have the insight that you may have hurt someone shows that you have an inner awareness of who you are and that is a very good thing.  

     2.  Apologize if you have the opportunity.

In AA one of the steps to recovery is to apologize to those that were impacted by the addiction.  There is tremendous healing in an apology.  It’s been my experience that most times the other person has already forgiven you or they appreciate the apology.  Sometimes the other person has no idea what you’re talking about because they didn’t see the situation the way you did.  Regardless, it releases you both from any karmic cord keeping you bound to the experience.

    3.  Take a deep breath in and blow the past away.

You can’t change the past.  You can only take what you have learned and move on to the next great adventure in your life.  Humans like to anchor themselves into their past and it blocks the flow of life.  We are here to learn and grow.  Growth happens when we experience pain.  There would be no growth if all we ever experienced was bliss.

A couple weeks ago I wrote an article of over-coming guilt.  You can read it by clicking here:  Recovering from relationship guilt.

I hope you found this helpful.

Sending you lots of love,

Photo credit: Thank you Ana Tavares on Unsplash

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