I used to think I was a coward.
It was a deep shame inside me—a dirty little secret.
I had a long reel of
memories as evidence.
So many moments of shrinking back, not speaking up, not telling my truth, hiding behind excuses.
Looking back, I have to admit I was chicken.
And yet, in countless other ways, I was fierce, and bold, and brave.
As a child, I was the first to investigate scary houses alone.
I wrote songs and presented them to my classmates.
When I was in kindergarten, I put my own photo in Terry Birch’s cubby-hole to let him know I was in love with him.
That takes courage.
I put my heart on the line again and again, but when it came to saying no, or telling people what I really felt (or admitting that I didn’t agree or feel the same way as they did) I wobbled all over the place.
Instead of a backbone, I had a wiener bone.
(Trust me, this is more common than you may think.)
As a Life Coach, I see this condition a lot.
And it always boils down to one simple thing.
A lack of internal boundaries.
When I was young, I didn’t know I had the right to my own feelings. I was taught to be nice and agreeable and obedient.
I didn’t know it was healthy to speak my mind when it came to things that made me uncomfortable.
I'd always been expected to give up my preferences to please adults.
This laid down a pattern—making me wishy-washy and vulnerable to the opinions of others.
By the time I reached my thirties, I was a full-time, around-the-clock, approval-seeker.
An acute case of anxiety that turned my inner life into a misery.
I couldn’t set limits without feeling an immense burden of guilt.
My body began to use illness to help me escape doing things my heart didn’t want to do.
And I don’t mean fake sick.
I mean go-to-the-hospital sick.
I went from doctor to doctor, groping in blind circles for years.
And then my youngest brother (who was majoring in psychology at the time) gave me my first book on boundaries.
That’s when the floodlights snapped on.
As I read, I had one mini-revelation after another.
I wasn’t a coward! I was afraid to set limits because I feared abandonment and withdrawal of love.
And I'm not the only one.
When parents teach children that their worth is attached to being agreeable, they’re putting them on a fast train to trouble.
Children need to have a sense of SELF to know where they end and others begin.
That’s why a two-year old shouts out the word “NO!”
They’re just beginning to understand the need for personal space and physical boundaries.
A toddler knows what doesn’t feel good and will push people away.
But if we’re punished for not being "nice", we learn to deny our true feelings and ultimately lose a sense of who we REALLY ARE.
Over time, we develop unhealthy defences to make up for a lack of self.
Ringing any bells?
I used avoidance strategies instead of setting limits.
I got sick because I was afraid of being rejected if I said no.
Illness, as crappy as it was, gave me a legitimate excuse to be myself—while providing relief from the guilt of disappointing others.
THIS IS A LOUSY WAY TO LIVE LIFE.
But it could have been worse.
Many others who are raised without boundaries become victims of sexual or physical abuse.
Having a wiener bone isn’t as funny as it sounds.
It’s actually dangerous.
Children need to be able to tell their truth even if it's not socially acceptable.
Their future relationships depend on it. Their lives could depend on it.
But how can we teach our kids about healthy boundaries if we aren’t honouring and setting them ourselves?
And how can we set healthy boundaries if we don't even know what they are?
And this is a problem I want to change.
Which is why I've created an Education eCourse that focuses on INNER BOUNDARIES.
Most of us have come to equate boundaries with saying NO, but a boundary isn't just a limit that you set.
It's also a container you create.
An EMOTIONAL BOUNDARY gives you the space to actually feel your feelings, and share them in a healthy way.
A MENTAL BOUNDARY allows you to have your own thoughts and opinions.
An ENERGETIC BOUNDARY helps you protect your energy levels, while also helping you manage the intensity of your emotions and shielding you from the intensity of others.
And there's SO MUCH MORE!
Which is why this topic is often confusing.
As I was researching boundaries, I came across DOZENS of different boundary definitions—each one containing a truth, but never the WHOLE truth.
I began to realize that there are many aspects to boundaries and that each one holds a vital piece that connects to a larger picture.
Boundaries are not orders.
They're not meant to be used to control other people.
And yet many of us do, myself included.
This isn't a judgement.
Most of us grew up learning warped ways of interacting with others.
We've only seen two players in dysfunctional game—the Compliant and the Controller.
To find out which one you are, ask yourself these questions:
Do you find it difficult to allow others to be their own separate person?
To make their own choices about their lives?
Do you use guilt to try to get them to do what you want?
Do you withdraw your love if they don’t?
Do you have a hard time hearing their NO?
Congratulations! You’re a Controller!
Now, ask yourself this:
Are you afraid to say no to people?
Do you feel you are “good” only when you’ve made someone happy?
Do you take on responsibility that isn’t yours to take on?
Do you try to appear nice even though it’s not really authentic?
Are you burnt out, exhausted and seething with resentment?
Ding! Ding! Ding! You’re a Compliant!
Which means you’ve probably got a good-sized wiener-bone of your own.
But please don't be embarrassed about that.
It's taken me over a decade to understand, appreciate, and strengthen my own inner wobble.
You aren't weak.
And you don't have to prove anything with your fists.
True strength comes from an inner core of self-confidence and worth.
If you want to develop that, I'm here to help.
You really are enough, just as you are.
But if you're betraying yourself as a tradeoff for approval and love, then Healthy Inner Boundaries are your ticket to freedom.
Sending you so much love,