Women, Low Self Esteem, and Setting Boundaries
Self love sets the foundation and precondition on which you love others. You cannot give others what you do not hold within yourself. Self love is your birthright, and non-egotistical or selfish. When you learn to love yourself in a healthy way, the desperate hunt for affection and love from others falls to the wayside.
To love yourself is to acknowledge your existence and know your worth. It is self acceptance of your experiences, failures, and story. It is caring for your mind, your body, and your spirit. In your adult years, you express the same protection, kindness, care, acceptance, and goodness modeled in childhood from your parents towards yourself. In other words, you learned the function of emotional self-protection and love through your parental models. If your environment deprived you of kindness, care, acceptance, protection, and goodness, you might find it hard to give it to yourself.
To give love, you must first have love. If you lack the love you want to experience from your relationships, then the intention would be to give yourself the love you want to experience. This means in order to have love, love yourself. Self-love transforms all relationships.
One act of self-love is creating safety and protection for yourself with the use of personal boundaries. A boundary is a restriction that is placed on others to guard your emotional space and comfort level. Personal boundaries help you to establish a sense of worth and a sense of self love.
For those who experienced abuse or neglect as a child, establishing and maintaining boundaries can be challenging. Because boundaries are learned in childhood, being raised in an abusive or toxic environment your boundaries were constantly violated in many ways. This has conditioned you to be silent, tolerate chaos, minimize your opinion, and seek approval or validation from others instead of trusting in yourself. The lack of personal boundaries causes more unwarranted pain and hardship that makes you feel as if you don’t have any sense of control over your own life.
Personal boundaries range from how you feel about something to the way you express your thoughts and feelings, as well as the level of comfort in which you allow others to get close to you emotionally, mentally, and physically.
The goal of boundaries is to keep people out.
A great way to safeguard yourself is by actively using the word NO. It is one of the most powerful statements you can make to someone that guards your time, energy, and heart while positively impacting the quality of your life. By saying no puts you in control of who you want in your life, how much time they get, and what role people play.
Setting boundaries is the best thing you can do for yourself because it tells people how to treat you. Boundaries create an emotional space or physical distance that divides you and another person to establish limits in your life.
Negative experiences form and highlight weak or shaky personal boundaries. Negative experiences such as abuse of any kind or neglect cripple you and your sense of self. You often consider the thoughts and feelings of others over your own, you feel responsible for others' happiness, and shame and guilt play a big part in your high tolerance of pain from others. Until you establish personal boundaries, you will continue to suffer emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Being shamed for having basic needs or not being viewed as valuable may have caused you to become out of touch with your feelings, and even afraid to set boundaries in fear of being abandoned.
Boundary breaking can happen when you are put under extreme stress and too many compromises are imposed, causing you to question your own thoughts, feelings, and identity—leaving a hole in your self esteem.
The ultimate test of self love and breaking of boundaries often comes from those who do not respect or accept boundaries. These are the toxic and narcissistic energy zappers you have in your circle who wear you down.
However, they are your best teachers. The lessons from your past experiences of being taken for granted, feeling frustrated, or resentful are prime examples of when your boundaries were unclear or weak.
You are entitled to have your own thoughts, opinions, needs, feelings, space, friends, and beliefs. Here are three steps to start the process of setting healthy boundaries.
#1 The Choice to Protect
Let’s reflect back on some of your negative experiences. These could be a range of experiences that made you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, violated, or even abused at that time. Reflect on what was said or done to you? How did this make you feel? What could you have been done or said that would've shifted or offset this experience to make you feel more protected?
I was at a conference out of town. My cash was limited so if I had leftovers from lunch, I ate that for dinner to preserve cash. A group of ladies talked about getting dinner and one of the ladies from my hometown asked if I wanted to go to dinner with them. I replied, “I have leftovers”. She then said “You always have leftovers” in an angry tone of voice. I did not reply but gave a weird look as to why she would respond like so. I was very embarrassed, not because of her words but the tone which she used. I felt the remarks were demeaning and projected a sense of despising because of my choice to do something different.
#2 Crossed the Lines
You are no longer a child and letting people talk to you in any kind of way is unreasonable. If someone is mistreating you, it's partly your responsibility. So, what’s the limit? Where do you draw the line? Setting boundaries is not all about being right or wrong. Your prerogative is about your own thoughts, opinions, needs, feelings, space, friends, beliefs and effectively communicating this with strangers, work colleagues, friends, family, and intimate partners.
Setting boundaries can make you feel awkward or even uncomfortable at first. But with practice, it becomes more natural.
New Boundary: Look into their eyes and state firmly, “What I decide to do is really up to me.”
I feel this statement is firm without going into too much detail about why I made a choice.
Setting boundaries requires that you increase your awareness of how you feel and find the right words to express your concerns without sounding like a mad barking dog. Self-protection is the process of learning how to inform people they’ve crossed the line and communicating this in a clear, simple, direct, and respectful. In the end, you’ll feel proud of yourself.
#3 Enforce Behavior
Stating your initial concerns won’t hold if you are sweet-talked or worn down into an unwilling yes. The key here is to remember why you set the boundary in the first place and how much you value your sense of worth. When you go against yourself, this is betrayal and causes self-hatred for not standing up for yourself.
Learning a new habit takes time and repetition, including setting boundaries. In other words, be alert but easy on yourself at first.
Being consistent helps to enforce the new behavior. No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable or enter your space without consent. Protecting your thoughts, opinions, needs, feelings, freedom, friends, family and beliefs is the beginning of adding more self-love and worth into your life. When you fail to follow through and stand firm, you make your own boundaries pointless. Therefore, diminishing your self-esteem and worth.
Kimesha Coleman is a Self Esteem Enhancement Expert and Results Coach who works with women who tend to cater more to the needs of others more than themselves.
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