by Jennifer Zmurchyk – Prairie Sky Wellness
I am a 45 year old divorced single mother, and almost my entire life I was a pushover – that’s four decades of allowing people to use me and not treat me with respect. A lot of this came from the fact that I am highly empathic and a genuinely kind person who tends to see the good in people while at the same time ignoring the bad. An ‘over giver’. Constantly giving to other people at my own expense and I rarely received anything in return.
When you are an empath and you have a kind heart, you to do not possess the DNA to use other people and it is very difficult to understand that not everyone is like this. Many people are perfectly content to take and never give anything back once they know that they have found a target to use. ‘Energy vampire’ is a good term for these folks.
Eventually I got to a point where I realized enough was enough and I discovered an amazing tool called ‘boundaries’. Up until last year I honestly didn’t even know what a boundary was, or that I possessed the inner strength to actually set them with others who were using me.
What’s a boundary and why is it hard for some of us to set them?
According to Wikipedia:
“Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.”
All of us deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and other people do not have the right to cross certain lines when it comes to how we are treated. However, getting to a place where we have the confidence to set conditions as to how we will and will not be treated is often very difficult for someone who is empathic and a naturally giving person. Why is it difficult to set boundaries? A lot of it has to do with self respect and self empowerment. If we have lived a life where we were raised in an environment that was toxic, or have been paired with a relationship partner that is disrespectful or narcissistic towards us then it would have been very easy to take on that negativity and internalize it with the belief that we do not deserve respect.
Knowing when to set a boundary, and how to find the strength to do it
The following are some key indicators that we need to set a boundary with another person:
- Someone continuously asks us for help with things they are perfectly capable of doing on their own
- When we spend time with a person and afterwords feel energetically drained
- When we kindly give from our heart, but find that this person never gives us anything in return
- Our gut instinct is telling us that we are being used and taken advantage of
- When another is disrespectful or abusive towards us in any way
- When other people are constantly demanding our time and are exhibiting codependent behavior towards us
It’s usually very easy to know when it is time to set a boundary however actually finding the strength to do so can be difficult. In my own experience, when I first began to set boundaries with people in my life it was hard because I was fearful that these people would no longer want to be a part of my life. That fear changed though because I soon began to realize that setting boundaries was a good litmus test to indicate which people I actually wanted to have in my life. People who genuinely care about us will have no issue with us setting healthy boundaries and they will gladly respect them. Toxic people will have a very adverse reaction to us setting a boundary and they often become angry when we stand up for ourselves. These are the people that need to go – there is no use hanging on to someone in our life that becomes angry with us for asking to be treated with respect. The ones who are ‘energy vampires’ will quickly show their true colors once we set a boundary and they realize that they can no longer use us.
Above all, it is so important for all of us to cultivate love and respect for ourselves. There are many kind and genuinely good people out there that will treat us well and recognize that a healthy relationship of any kind requires a balance of give and take. Do not be afraid to set boundaries, we all have the power to create a positive and fulfilling life for ourselves that is free from toxicity. Once we are living from a place of self respect and are no longer giving to others out of a sense of obligation or fear, then the toxic people around us will naturally fall away on their own and the people that truly love and care about us will remain in our life and be genuinely happy to see us in our power.