Managing Boundaries In Challenging Times

In the previous episode, I gave you some tools to cope with the intense emotional experiences you may be having lately during the lockdown. Then last weekend my YouTube video was to see what current struggles you guys are having. Thank you to all of you who have shared in the comments. 
In this episode, I want to focus on managing boundaries in these challenging times. This content will help you deal with toxic people in ways that most support your health, safety and sanity. I know some of you are currently living with toxic people, some are alone but receiving communications from toxic people, and some of you are really lonely and maybe even thinking about contacting toxic people. Whatever your situation, I think you’ll find something valuable in here. 
In this episode, you’re going to get some helpful tools to manage your boundaries. I’m going to give you access for FREE to the 3rd episode of my 12-Week SANA Series on this topic. Part of this episode is a guided meditation to help you grow your self-awareness about where your limits are, to recognize the signs of boundary violation, and to help you create new boundaries. 
Even if you’ve never set a boundary in your life, by the end of this episode, you’ll have the tools you need to do so. If you’ve got boundaries, but you’re realizing how drained you feel, then this episode will help you figure out where the toxicity is getting in so you can uplevel your boundaries. 
Now I’ve never given away this content for free but it feels like the right thing to do right now as many of you are currently struggling with boundaries on top of the emotional intensity of the present times. If you love this content and want the other 11 episodes, you can find the 12-Week SANA Series here or on the homepage.
This episode is going to help you free up your energy from investment in toxic people. We can use all the energy we have to get through these challenging times. It’s like when your financial budget is tight due to a reduced income crisis. Those aren’t moments to frivolously spend your money. Those are times to buckle down, figure out where you’re wasting money, where you want to cut back on expenses and investments, and to create a new plan to get through the challenging times. You can think of money as a form of energy. So is emotion. During intense life experiences, emotion becomes magnified. Emotion contains power and we must use this responsibly and invest it wisely. 
Grieving and trauma processing is normal during times like this. I went into detail about that in the last episode. In this episode, I want to help you avoid stacking more emotional issues that deplete your energy and cause you additional, unnecessary trauma. This of course is the inevitability of dealing with toxic people and not setting the proper boundaries to protect yourself. 
While we can’t control what other people say or do. However, we can turn away from them and not give away our energy to them. You could spend this challenging time investing lots of energy and emotion in toxic people, or you could set new boundaries and redirect that energy toward building self-love and reconnecting with who you are. That choice is yours. 
You could feel tempted to drop your boundaries when the SHTF because you’re scared, lonely, confused or in self-doubt. I encourage you to recognize that this is one of the most important times to manage your boundaries, and even to uplevel them. 
If you’ve noticed that you’ve been extra angry lately, this could mean that you’ve been letting someone cross the line without setting or enforcing a boundary. If you notice when you try to set boundaries, you come off as angry and aggressive, it might mean that you waited too long to set that boundary. Righteous anger lets us know that we have been violated in some way and we need to do something about that. Doing something is about setting new boundaries. Not getting revenge or retaliating. Righteous anger is not the same as the toxic anger you will notice in manipulators who rage when they don’t get what they want, like when you set a boundary. Toxic anger is used to bulldoze your boundaries and extort what the manipulator wants from you. That’s not the same as righteous anger. 
If you notice that you’re feeling angry lately, check in with yourself and ask your inner being if you feel violated in some way. During the guided meditation part of this episode, you’ll get to explore the signs of boundary violation from your experiences so you can learn to identify these signs in the moment and set boundaries in time to avoid a transgression. 
So here is the 3rd episode of the 12-Week SANA Series, recorded in February 2016:

In the last episode, we talked about the Legacy of Abuse & How You Can Stop It.

We went over the chain of blame and how it goes on and on until someone stands up, speaks up and says, “It ends with me."

We talked about the importance of relentlessly facing the truth in order to pierce the subconscious denial holding you in the Victim Stage so you can empower yourself over the First Threshold into the Surviver Stage.

We talked about acceptance as an important part of your self-care practice and how it’s key to you setting yourself free from the victimhood of Stage One of the recovery process. Then we did a meditation to help you reach the acceptance that will induce the breakthrough from the Cognitive Dissonance.

This episode is about Mastering Your Boundaries to Increase Your Self-Esteem.

We are going to talk about:

- What boundaries are and why you need them
- What does self-esteem have to do with your boundaries
- How to create healthy boundaries so you can have healthy self-esteem
- How to set and enforce boundaries with toxic people and what to expect when you do so
- At the end we’re going to do a Boundaries Self-Awareness guided meditation that you may find very helpful as you’re working to create healthier boundaries in your life.

Having healthy boundaries is a key foundation of your self-identity, your self-care and your self- love work. It’s not only the foundation of your relationship with yourself, it’s also the foundation of a healthy relationship with other people.

Creating boundaries is about knowing and respecting your limits, and setting up protection for those limits. We all have limits and it’s important to recognize where yours are. There’s no shame in that.

If you don’t set boundaries to protect those limits, then you become the doormat that manipulators take advantage of because they can.

Creating boundaries is a way of ensuring your safety, acknowledging your truth and speaking your truth. Remember in episode 1 we talked about truth and safety being the foundational components of the recovery process after the trauma of abuse.

Creating boundaries is part of the self-empowerment process because in setting and enforcing your boundaries, you’re taking responsibility for your beliefs, needs, thoughts and feelings. You’re ensuring your safety with your boundaries, not only the physical but also your psychological and spiritual sense of safety.

These limits are unique to each person. Your boundaries are likely going to be slightly different than the next person and that’s okay.

You’re the only gatekeeper of your boundaries.

Working on your boundaries is a way of taking back control and power in your life. You have the control of them, you’re responsible to set them clearly and enforce them. You can also be flexible when you want to and hold strong when you need to.

This is a trial and error process. The thing about learning boundaries is that you learn through experiences that we’ll call “lessons” in which someone either violates a boundary you didn’t know you had and so you set a new boundary, or someone violates a boundary where you took for granted that everyone else would have that same boundary and you thought you didn’t need to make that explicitly clear.

A boundary is an invisible line where you end and someone else begins. It helps you to stop taking responsibility for someone else. It helps you remember that you are not there to manage someone else’s emotions and dramas or to get sucked into them. It helps you maintain a healthy of balance of togetherness and individuality in a relationship. It helps you show others where your sacred space is so they know not to violate that.

Essentially boundaries are a way of teaching others how to treat you.

The process of creating boundaries is one in which you will get to know yourself better. You learn where your limits are. You learn how to take control of your space. You develop greater self-esteem through this process because you’re exerting your right to take responsibility and control of yourself without letting someone else’s needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and opinions to overwrite your own. Toxic people often do this by shaming or guilting you to back down on your boundaries.

If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, chances are you discovered that you have new boundaries or need to have new boundaries to protect your limits.

Likely some of those lessons were painful. Unfortunately, that’ll happen sometimes. If we don’t know where our boundaries are, we create experiences in which we have the opportunity to realize that.

We always attract our mirror opposite reflection in life. If you have poor boundaries, you will attract people who abuse boundaries until you learn to manage your boundaries better.

At that point, you get it and say, "I need to have a boundary there because that didn’t feel good.” You learn: "I’m not going to compromise that again."

Poor boundaries usually correlates with low self-esteem.

Self-esteem is about your ability to engage with reality around you, to notice the feedback of your efforts and how you esteem yourself in this process.

Low self-esteem is like learned helplessness where a person has learned through experiences with boundary abusers to not assert their own needs, feelings, opinions and rights. Likely you’ve also learned to feel guilt and shame about having limits and setting boundaries.

Again, this was something you learned while letting people take advantage of your boundaries. If you grew up in a dysfunctional family you likely learned unhealthy boundaries or you may not know how to have boundaries at all. A child who doesn’t understand their right to boundaries becomes a pre-qualified victim of future abuse because they will not know how to say no or even recognize that something is wrong. This is very common in childhood sexual abuse but also any form of abuse and it can easily continue into adulthood because the early life programming remains in place until we consciously work to change it.

If you have poor boundaries, it’s good to reflect upon how you were raised. Was your privacy continually invaded? Were your limits crossed? Were you allowed to have boundaries at all? What happened when you enforced a boundary of yours or expressed that you didn’t like how a boundary of yours was crossed?

OK so now you need to unsubscribe from that programming. Recognize that you have every right to take up space, to claim your personal sacred space with your boundaries, and to teach people how to treat you with respect. You also have the right to show people the door when they don’t respect your boundaries. That also goes for family members.

You might feel some guilt as you’re starting to declare new boundaries but remember that guilt was taught to you and you have every right to know your limits and protect yourself as an adult now. People who don’t like your new boundaries are free to hit the road.

Creating boundaries is about deciding where your limits are and protecting them.

decide = cut off (de = off and caedere = cut) to determine (Latin)

Sometimes you need to determine what you don’t want before you can figure out what you really want. That’s what dating is about. You meet new people, and maybe you meet a lot of people who aren’t the right people. At the very least, each person teaches you something about what you don’t want, helps you define what you want to cut off from your life, and helps you practice setting the boundary when you don’t want to see them any more. When you cut away what you

don’t want, you make space for what you do want, even if you don’t know what you do want yet.

How to set boundaries so you can have healthy self-esteem
Give yourself permission to put yourself first. If you got into an abusive situation, it’s probably because you put someone else first.

You need to define your sense of identity and protect that otherwise you will look outward for others to define you, and you’ll likely draw in another perfect match in another abusive situation to teach you that lesson again.

Practicing your boundaries is one of the best ways to build your self-esteem. As you work through this you will naturally begin to feel better about yourself because not only are you respecting yourself more, so are other people and when they don’t, you show yourself respect by showing them the door. This gives you a new sense of empowerment over your life.

You will develop more confidence each time you do it because you know you can do it again.

These boundaries are to protect you from being manipulated, used, and violated by anyone, including skilled manipulators. Your boundaries let others know what is acceptable and tolerable for you and what isn’t.

Here are 9 tips to setting healthy boundaries in general:

1) Be assertive and explicit.

2) Trust yourself. You know yourself and your limits better than anyone else.

3) Set your boundary calmly yet confidently and don’t feel the need to apologize for it or defend it with explanations. Backtracking sends mixed messages to other people and it gives them a lot of wiggle room to take advantage of you. Giving explanations to toxic people will give them the opportunity to keep negotiating over your boundaries.

4) Communicate with compassion and respect, then let go of the other person’s reaction. That’s not your responsibility. It’s a whole other thing to be condescending, angry, and accusatory and then say that it’s the other person’s problem. Save your anger to process when you’re alone.

5) Realize that healthy people will respect your boundaries and only those who respect your boundaries deserve a place in your life, especially in your Inner Circle.

6) Communicate without blame. Instead of using “you...” statements like, “you made me feel...” change those into, “I feel...” I statements like, “I feel like this when you do that.” This is part of taking 100% responsibility for your life.

7) Express your honesty through direct, explicit and COMPASSIONATE communication. Radical honesty isn’t about being cruel. It’s about being real and direct.

8) Set consequences in advance for when someone violates your boundaries. ie: “If you choose to continue, I won’t accept it any longer.” You don’t need to go into ultimatums, it’s enough to say you won’t accept it. You need to be clear with yourself what action you’ll take if that person does choose to continue the unacceptable behavior. Will you break up, move out, leave your job, etc? If you don’t follow through, you’re not respecting yourself and you’re sending the message that you aren’t serious about your boundaries and they will likely be abused again. Stick to it. If you wait to set these consequences in the moment, you’re much more likely to backtrack on your boundaries especially if you really like the person who is violating your boundaries.

9) Use your feelings as a barometer of your truth and your limits. Keep coming back to you and how you feel. If you don’t feel good, something isn’t okay. If you feel good, you’re doing it right!

How to Set Boundaries with Toxic People
Establishing and enforcing boundaries with toxic people is next level work. Healthy people

respond respectfully to your boundaries. Unhealthy people respond with all kinds of emotional manipulation tactics and will likely continue to test you until you either cave in and give them what they want or you cut them off for your own sanity and wellbeing.

One aspect of creating boundaries is about getting rid of the toxic people in your life to create more space for what you really want. In this process you'll free up your energy for creative purposes. If you’re not ready to go No Contact with a person yet, at the very least set up healthy parameters to have limited contact with toxic people and strong boundaries.

You will have so much more energy, motivation and passion to channel into your creative endeavors when you aren’t wasting it on toxic people that become like energy vampires in your life or toxic thought patterns of obsession or self-doubt that become like a neurological prison hijacking your inner resources and wasting them in endless negative feedback loops.

Question: Do you want to cut off contact entirely with this toxic person or set new limits on the contact so that you can maintain the relationship while also honoring your boundaries?

Option 1: Cutting Off the Toxic Person
Do this gently, firmly and with as much dignity as possible!

Let them save ego as much as possible because if it’s a narcissist and you call them out directly they will likely become aggressive and potentially even violent. They will step up their efforts to

attack you and you’ll end up wasting so much energy on defending yourself, fighting back or just trying to deflect and hold your ground amidst the storm of chaos that’s coming at you.

The best way to get away from a narcissist, psychopath, sociopath is to sneak away. Plan your escape thoroughly. Know when they will not be present or aware of you leaving and walk away quietly. You may want to employ help like family/friends or movers. Do not make a big deal of it or tell them why you’re cutting them off and leaving or even that you’re leaving. This can lead to them becoming aggressive or violent and you may put your safety at risk. At the very least they could try to talk you into not leaving and confuse you into giving it another try.

If you’re not living with the person, this is much easier. You can end the relationship by simply blocking their number from sending you texts/phone calls, delete and block them on Facebook and all other forms of social media, and block their emails. In case any communications come through, delete those before opening and reading. Connecting with their words will trigger your emotions and re-establish the energetic connection. It’s best not even to look it though the temptation will be VERY very strong. This is a boundary you’ll need to set with yourself. I’m telling you this because I’ve made this mistake many times.

Cutting off someone is the hardest decision to make and the easiest boundary to compromise later on when you miss them or hear from them unexpectedly. Going No Contact with a toxic person is a boundary you’re setting primarily with YOURSELF. It is a boundary that protects you so you can move forward with the healing process instead of getting re-traumatized over and over again.

Option 2: Maintain the Relationship with New Limits
This option is for when you know this person is toxic but you either have to or want to maintain some form of a relationship... maybe you’re just not ready to leave yet, and that’s okay we’ve all been there... maybe it’s due to the practicality of co-parenting a child/children... maybe because it’s a boss or co-worker and you can’t leave your job yet... maybe because it’s your parent or the parent of your partner and you aren’t ready to cut them off yet.

It’s entirely up to you if you want to maintain a relationship with a person or not, however if you know they are emotional manipulators, you need to be very clear about your boundaries and set new ones each time you realize the person has violated one of your limits. Expect them to keep violating your limits because that’s what toxic people do. Expecting them to respect you is a recipe for insanity. This is why you will likely eventually get to the point where you know it’s time for No Contact. That usually comes when you’ve exhausted yourself trying to get someone to respect your boundaries and/or when your self-worth grows bigger than your desire to please them or maintain contact with them.

Practicing boundary setting and enforcement with toxic people is like baptism by fire. You will learn to master your boundaries because your opponent is mighty and they will test you over and over again.

As you change your patterns and boundaries, the relationship will change because the other person will have to adjust to your new boundaries about what you will tolerate and not.

First you have to know what those new limits are. Likely you learn where those limits are through your interactions with that person where those patterns keep repeating.

There must be consequences to a violation of your boundaries otherwise, you are rewarding the person for breaking your boundaries. If you say no calls after a certain time, or you say you’re unavailable for the person to stop by when they asked to, or if you say you’re going to bed and that person texts or calls or shows up anyway, do not respond. If you do, you’re rewarding their disregard for a boundary you set up. That’s the moment where you’re being tested. They WILL test you. If you reward them for abusing your boundaries they learn that they can get away with

that and they’ll keep taking more. Your self-esteem will plummet because you’ll feel out of control, violated, disrespected and powerless. Enforce your boundary to take back your power.

If a person responds with anger or indignation about a boundary you set and enforce, you know you’re dealing with a boundary abuser. They feel that their needs and wants are more important than yours and expect you to cave on your boundaries because they’re not happy with these parameters.

If a person makes you feel guilt or shame for setting a boundary that they don’t like, you’re likely dealing with an emotional manipulator. They may say covert things like, “You’re making me feel unwelcome,” or “I have never treated you this way.” Expect them to gaslight you. You’ll need to be strong to remember that it’s not your job to manage their feelings. You need to manage your safety and wellbeing first and foremost.

Nevermind all that noise.
You need to take care of you... that is your #1 responsibility.

As you engage with others and reality around you, you’re getting feedback. From that feedback you can learn more about your limits, your boundaries, your needs and desires and how you are conveying all of that to others. If you look at the process of developing healthier boundaries as a series of lessons, you’ll always learn something from even the most challenging, hurtful and disappointing experiences.

The thing is you can always keep coming back for more and you’ll always have more learning opportunities, but once you understand the lesson and you’re ready to graduate from that class, that’s when you draw the line and say, "Enough!” If you continue to stay or keep going back for more beyond that point, you can pretty much call that masochism. It’s a form of self-punishment through martyrdom.

Now, maybe someone asks you something and you aren’t immediately sure if you want to do it. You can always breathe 3 times before responding. If you’re still not sure, take a step back and say, “I’ll get back to you on that!” Take some time alone to reflect. How many times have you made a decision in the moment and later wished you’d taken more time to reflect? Buy yourself some time if you aren’t sure.

When you don’t want to do something because it doesn’t feel right or it goes against your values or you would be over-extending yourself to do so... Learn to say NO. If you can’t say no, people will always take advantage of you. There are some people whose superpower is the way they imposition themselves on others until the person says yes. These are your greatest teachers of boundaries and learning to say no. No is a complete sentence. No is the most basic form of boundaries that you can learn to set. If you don’t know where to start setting boundaries, start by looking at where in your life do you need to start saying no more often?

Boundary Self-Awareness Mediation
The purpose of this meditation is to get back in touch with your intuition around sensing your limits. It will help you cultivate the Observer perspective so you’re not caught like a deer in headlights where a manipulator wants you.

Manipulators like to catch you by surprise when you’re off guard because those moments are when you’re likely to go along with what they want. This meditation will also help you learn how to identify your limits (physical, psychological and spiritual) and to enforce them through your boundaries.


Go ahead and get comfortable, closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths...

I invite you to think about being with someone in your life who might be abusing your boundaries.

How do you feel during and after interactions with that person?

Do you feel exhausted, drained, low energy, down on yourself? What does it feel like in your body and mind?
Maybe you feel uncomfortable, anxious, stressed, tense... Maybe you didn’t feel safe or respected or appreciated...

Have you felt like this with this person before?
Have you felt like this with other people before?
When was the first time you remember feeling like this?

You might notice this is a repeating pattern in your life.
Reflecting on these experiences will help you gain self-awareness of where your limits are.

Discomfort in the moment or later as you’re rehashing the events... or resentment toward a person that builds up later as you are having flashbacks of how they hurt you... means that you allowed your limits to be crossed and that’s a clue where you need to set a new boundary to protect yourself.

Now that you know how your body and mind recognizes toxicity and boundary abuse, recognize those signs as a security alarm, like a warning that you are compromising your wellbeing and safety, that your energy is leaking and your limits have been crossed. Remember this feeling, this unique language that your body communicates to you when your limits have been crossed.

I invite you to look a little deeper at what specifically is bothering you about what happened in those situations?

Is it the way they disrespected your time? Your body? Your feelings? Your opinions? What specific limit did they cross?

How could you approach that differently the next time someone does that so you don’t compromise your wellbeing and safety?

How could you use direct, explicit communication with compassion to communicate this boundary to another person before it gets to the point where they have crossed that limit? Imagine yourself doing that now.

If you look at the bigger patterns, is there a particular area of your life where you notice you have weak boundaries or difficulties protecting yourself? For example... trust, intimacy, sex,

What is one new boundary you could establish in that area of your life starting tomorrow?

How will you teach others to respect that boundary?

How could you enforce that boundary if someone tries to abuse it?

Imagine yourself setting and enforcing that boundary effortlessly, assertively with confidence and compassion.

Take a moment to check in with your mind and body now. Notice how you feel. Do you feel more empowered? More self-esteem?

If not, I invite you to spend more time with this exercise daily so you can build your sense of self-esteem as well as your proficiency in setting and enforcing boundaries, and recognizing when your boundaries are being abused so you can swiftly deal with it in the moment and not feel drained, hurt, taken advantage of or beaten down later.

When you’re ready, take a deep breath and you can start wiggling your fingers and toes, opening your eyes and bringing your awareness back to your physical surroundings.


Boundaries are a protector of your values, what matters to you, what you love.

Boundaries help you maintain personal emotional integrity.

If you don’t respect your boundaries, others won’t respect you. Set your boundaries and give them the opportunity to see if they’re capable of honoring your boundaries.

Be explicitly clear in your communication of your boundaries with compassion. If they are still not capable of respecting your boundaries, let them go. Stop following people who don’t care about you, your feelings, thoughts, needs and perceptions because in doing so you’re sending a message of low self-worth to your being.

See how people are responding to your new boundaries. It’s a learning process and you’ll discover more about yourself and others along the way.

As long as someone is abusing you slightly less than the amount you abuse yourself, you’ll stay and put up with it. When you realize you’re with people who don’t respect you and you know that you respect yourself enough to not allow someone to treat you that way, move on.

Setting boundaries is about upleveling your self-esteem and self-worth. Once you decide and know you’re worth more respect, it’s pretty clear when someone else isn’t capable of giving you that respect. That realization alone is enough to make your heart want to walk away.

My Persian friend, an older, wiser woman told me years ago, "Stop allowing people to walk through your temple with dirty shoes."

How do you know if it’s working?
You feel good. It’s that simple. You feel like you respect yourself, you love yourself. Your self-esteem feels good. You have a healthy amount of energy, focus, passion and motivation. You feel good about who you are. Your self-worth is growing.

Remember you can always breathe 3 times before responding in the moment. Take the time to get back to someone later when you need time to reflect.

Having boundaries helps you realize that you matter. Your feelings, thoughts, needs and perceptions are important. Your boundaries are valid and you’re allowed to have them, in fact you need to have boundaries to protect yourself.

I also want to offer you the FREE worksheets that come with this episode of the 12-Week SANA Series. You’ll find the direct link to the PDF download in the show notes. Just click on that link and it will allow you to download the worksheets that accompany this episode. 
Of course, if you want the other 11 audio episodes plus the PDF worksheets for each one, check out the 12-Week SANA Series. The link is in the show notes and you’ll also find it on the homepage.
In this episode I had mentioned how boundaries affect your self-esteem because 4 years ago when I recorded this course, I didn’t realize the difference between self-worth and self-esteem. There is a difference! Both of these are part of the 4 Pillars of Recovery. If you still haven’t got my FREE report on the 4 Pillars of Recovery After Narcissistic Abuse, you can get that download link in the show notes. It all starts with self-worth and your self-worth is only as strong as your boundaries. 
If you want to do deeper work on creating new boundaries, in Raising Your Self-Worth, I give you a step-by step guide on identifying your values, then setting up standards and boundaries to protect what most matters to you. That’s a 1 hour video course with PDF worksheets. You’ll also get Q&A video, where you’ll get to hear the questions asked by the participants, and my answers, when this course was given live in 2019. 
I hope this episode was helpful for you and I hope you’ll explore these additional resources if you want to delve deeper into your self-care work around setting and maintaining boundaries. You can use this time at home to uplevel your boundaries and grow your self-worth in the process. That way, when this is over, you’ll come out of this experience stronger and more empowered. Plus, when you stop giving your energy away to toxic people, you’re going to have so much more energy that you can use for something creative and purposeful in your life!

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