There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about boundaries. Some think boundaries are about changing the other person in the difficult relationship. They aren't. Boundaries are about changing you to better care for yourself. The other person may, or may not change in response to the changes you make, but that is secondary to the point of boundaries. The main reason for setting boundaries to to make your life better, healthier.
Here are some points about boundary making from psychcentral. https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-way-to-build-and-preserve-better-boundaries/
10 Way to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries
Name your limits. You can't set good boundaries if you're unsure of where you stand. ...
Tune into your feelings. ...
Be direct. ...
Give yourself permission. ...
Practice self-awareness. ...
Consider your past and present. ...
Make self-care a priority. ...
My mother, now passed, had Borderline Personality Disorder and was narcissistic, then developed vascular dementia. For my own survival I had to develop strong boundaries. They didn't change her, but they did make my life better.
Mother kept pushing the boundaries. My response was to back off - distance and detach - more and more till I was (relatively) ok.
Another good article is found here. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/set-boundaries#boundary-basics-and-benefits
Boundaries do work, if you understand them and apply them properly. This is about growth and self care, not trying to fix others. You can't change anyone else - you can only change yourself.
Personal growth rocks!!!
Talk about the need for all kinds of boundaries now!!!
Got knocked down with my thyroid being low, a serious extended family illness, and then of course this virus hitting the world and the adjustments I have made to keep myself safe,
belated thx need - that's very kind of you. One hopes that in learning to deal with all the garbage in one's life, that other's can benefit.
DofNPDmother - wow -amazing list of extremely useful things and amazing of you to be working them. it must have made a critical difference in your life. I am so impressed!!! I know you have done a lot of work.
kbuser - it is my sister who used to stir up trouble via my mother. Once mother was not able to engage in this any more, sis used her dd, and then became directly nasty to me, alternating with being very sweet. I have gone no contact and it's a great relief.
1) I learned how to say "no" when I didn't want to do something. Words let others know what you will and will not allow. No one should be expected to read your mind. You have the right to say "no" but it can be very scary the first time you do if you are a people pleaser and afraid of rejection.
2) I learned that accepting and expressing my Truth is essential to my self worth and self care. Having the attribute of integrity is living in your own truth, being true to who you are. I value peace and tranquility, so living in a state of fear and anxiety was not living in my truth.
3) I learned to use the boundaries of Geographical Distance (keeping physical distance) and Emotional Distance (a really BIG one for me to learn). Physically removing yourself from a person or situation is a way of enforcing boundaries. I would use this as soon as my brother began ranting at me - just silently walk away and drive off. Not everyone is safe for you to open up to emotionally. This is the case with my brother. I learned to guard my heart and never share anything personal with him.
4) I learned that Time is another boundary. I am not obligated to spend X amount of time with anyone. I did not have to answer every time he called or spend X amount of time on the phone. I told him I preferred to text and stuck to that boundary even though he didn't like it. I learned to listen to my gut and ask myself, "How much time do you want to spend caretaking, etc.?" I worked my schedule to make that happen, and sought help for things that I didn't want to do.
5) I learned to reach out to groups like this one for support.
6. I learned to apply Consequences consistently for people who crossed my boundaries.
I also learned to use these Strategies:
1) Grey Rock - don't get emotionally involved with the unsafe person; use brief responses; do not engage; make yourself "boring" and of no interest to them so you are not a resource to get their egoic needs met.
2) Emotionless Contact - avoid being emotionally supportive (I know, it goes against nature!) If they bring up emotionally charged subject, don't engage. Stick to safe things like the weather.
3) Minimal Contact - use text; limit time ("I have an appointment in five minutes")and let them get answers from someone else. They will likely blame you for advising them if something goes wrong anyway.
4) Watch out for tools of manipulation: Cut off anger (walk away), self pity (no response), charm (be cautious)
5) When others are not being direct in their communication, we tend to mirror their behavior - Don't! Be direct yourself when others are not.
6) Express only needs that your can express SAFELY. Don't open your heart for punishment.
We can't control what other people think or do. My therapist taught me that we don't use boundaries to change other people's behavior, only to protect ourselves. We also learn to respect other people and not cross their boundaries. Unfortunately, after our mother passed, my brother has done everything he can to make my life as trustee miserable, going against what my mother wanted, and going against the law. I have a great attorney and communicate only through her now. I could dwell on his behavior and make myself miserable, but I don't. I am free of his hold due to learning about boundaries. Hallelujah!
Maybe you don’t like the distinction of caring for the oldest person but I have always counted on you due to your vast experience. You have great suggestions and answers. I love your compassion and support for all of us.
need - major trauma does change us. It can be for the better or for the worse. I don't doubt that detachment from your bros needs to be permanent. I understand forgiving and loving your mum from a distance. Hah I suppose my mother lived the longest of those looked after for by posters here. Not sure that it is a distinction I care for!
Hi ginger - you are welcome. We need boundaries in many situations and realization of that makes a huge difference. So glad your life is better and you have a plan and peace. We all need that. Other benefit from hearing about people like you who have made changes.
send - no fights, no strife if possible. Just set the limits. Don't wear yourself out. Trying for normal sounds like an impossible task. How are you doing with the new boundaries?
worried - I think that people who are judgemental of others are privately more judgemental of themselves. Not his job to figure you out. Think of the source and let it slide off your back. That said, it isn't nice to experience the judgement of others.
glad - yes for sure. They love nibbling on my laptop cord or string of any kind, especially when it moves. I know it is built in. Cats are very visual and that's how they catch their prey, but...I am thankful they haven't attacked the toilet paper, though that is cheaper than laptop cords. Online I can buy cord protector made for those who have bunnies running around. I think it is worth a try - or smearing with Vicks. 😏
Back in winter here but not severe cold. I have boundaries with the weather too!!! ❄🌨❄
Seems a little optimistic to think that a 96 year old with dementia and “hours to days left” is competent and able sign forms ;)
Ming loves chewing on the cover for my kindle. Drives me nuts. And then anything that has a tie, shoe laces, string on sweat pants, you name it. At least she leaves the cords alone.
I totally agree. It’s why I can’t relate to my brothers. They are ‘know it alls!’ At least they THINK they know it all. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers because I don’t. Actually, no one does.
The person who thinks they know everything stops growing. They don’t seek out information because they feel like they know everything already. It’s sad. To be honest, I feel sorry for them.
The day I start resting on my laurels and think I'm done will be the day I really need to look inward.
You said it! Some people expect entirely too much. They are usually the ones who like to pretend they are better than others. Some people even believe their own lies.
Here’s the thing though. Their lashing out at others backfires them because they end up chasing everyone away. It’s sad. They could have chosen to be caring people but decided to be manipulative and deceiving.
You are so smart in assessing and seeing through this type of behavior.
I hear such wisdom in your words. We all hope to grow. It’s inspirational to others to see progress. You have progressed and that brings internal peace. I too have had feelings similar to yours, very similar.
All of us have had people who have been ‘thorns in our sides’ and we learn to cope with their behavior. Hopefully one day they will learn to see their true selves in the mirror one day and desire to make positive changes in their behavior.
Your sister in law has not walked in your shoes. She does not have a right to judge you. She doesn’t even have the right to know about your personal relationships. IMO she needs to mind her own business.
If she were asking about your family out of concern for you that would be different but she isn’t. She is asking because she is nosey and wishes to pass judgment.
Good for you for not allowing in to bother you. She is who she is. Why would you expect anything else? Sounds like you know exactly how she behaves. So you are one step ahead of her. She won’t catch you off guard.
The boundary that I am setting for the first of the month is to share less information with hubs about bill paying unless he asks. He never asks, so why am I trying so hard to make things 'normal'?
I am wearing myself out.
It is not normal to start out with. He does have cognitive decline and at times becomes argumentative in a ridiculous sort of way.
Nothing against him, it is his condition. He is so intelligent, but cannot use it for his own good.
I am going to have to step up, do more on my own, and am tired to start out with this month. I won't let that stop me.
And Golden, you are right, it doesn't have to be a fight. He won't even notice I am sharing less.
I was out with my sister in law and she got started like she does asking if I'd been in touch with family. She's my brother's wife. I unapologetically said no I hadn't. I saw judgment in her face but for once was unfazed by it. It made me realize I've grown in the last little while. I don't need her approval. Her family is close, mine isn't. Not through any fault of mine. I don't take ownership of that dysfunction. It felt good to not care what she thought.
Thanks for responding to my posting.
I agree with your words. I love deeply and I hurt deeply and being hurt from those I loved really destroyed me. I am not the same. Everything about me has been altered.
I am doing the very best that I can for now. I feel the detachment relationship with my brothers has to permanent. I will always love my mom in spite of her favoritism that she showed to my brothers all of my life. Other issues too, sort of complicated.
My relationship with mom became terribly strained. I completely forgive. I did speak to her on the phone briefly a couple of times since she left my home. Sadly, I am not hopeful about much restoration in the relationship. I wish her nothing but the best and I just seek peace in my life.
I admire your wisdom and how you have handled your experiences. You certainly have dealt with more than most. I suppose your mom lived the longest of anyone posting on this site.
It is sad when family members or other loved ones hurt us and we wonder what we did or why they do it.
I think we make excuses because we are not ready to accept that that is how they are. We make excuses and keep hoping that things will turn out the way we want them to. I am so glad that you have learned to see your self as you are and not as your family sees you.
I always felt that my mother and sister didn't "know" me as they made me into the person they needed me to be for their unhealthy "games".
Detaching doesn't always have to be forever. Temporary detachment may be enough for the other to sit up and take notice and make some changes. I never completely detached from my mother but I kept a healthy distance
That’s the best thing, walking away. Because like you said, they have no clue what they are even talking about! Soon enough people forget about their nonsense.
They made mistakes when they were new. Everyone does! I really dislike perfectionists. They are miserable people and very difficult to be around. They usually end up alone because no one can stand being around them. They can’t tolerate their shortcomings or mistakes made by anyone. So ridiculous because no one is perfect.
Only vain and insecure people can’t admit mistakes or apologize to others. People who are secure can freely admit they screwed up and accept that others will goof up from time to time too.
It’s truly sad because how many times have perfectionists been told by others that no one will love them any less due to mistakes? Their vanity and insecurity just won’t allow them to admit anything.
I like your therapist! Isn’t it liberating not to care about the foolishness that others say?
The detaching part can really be tricky for some of us. It was for me. I have found that the more I was hurt by those who claimed to ‘care’ the easier it became to detach.
They kept proving who they were with their actions and hurtful words and I slowly but surely saw their true colors.
It’s sad because we want to believe the best about our family. Sometimes we make excuses for them and I am not sure why we do that. Is it to protect them or ourselves? I learned to view myself from my own feelings and not their distorted illusions.
good night all