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As Care Givers, we seem to have problems saying "No" or letting others in. Let's give each other ideas on how to set boundaries with the people we care for as well as others who may take advantage of our tendency to take on extra issues and problems.

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Speaking of toxic situations, I still maintain that boundary setting can occur in workplaces as well. I've had toxic bosses who were manipulative and controlling. It isn't easy to stand up to a bully boss because you're more likely to be fired or get a bad review. Yet you risk a loss of your own self respect if you allow yourself to be manipulated.

But bosses aren't the only bullies; some co-workers are as well. Some manipulate and try to push off their work; standing up to them is delicate because it can easily be construed that someone who won't be manipulated isn't a team player - literally the curse of death in a work environment.

I'd actually rather deal with boundary establishment in a personal and family environment.
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Orange, I see this as very simple. You have gotten away from a horrible situation and built a life. You have established healthy boundaries. Good for you. It must be very difficult to hear about your family's troubles, but stay strong, enforce those boundaries, and keep your life.
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I'm new to this tragic situation and too young to be involved, age 27. Yes, I set firm boundaries with my toxic mother and family by separating (non-contact, no-communication, etc.) over a year ago. Recently, I received paperwork in the mail from a lawyer that tracked me down disclosing that my mother was seriously ill, was committed, her sister was granted guardianship as well as the state. The paperwork was a lawsuit pressing charges against them both. She refuses help and believes nothing is mentally wrong with her; however, she has clearly lost her mind. I did reach out to my mother, and learned her physical state is disastrous (strokes, etc). I learned today that the fire department picked her up again lost and confused last night. She was driving miles away from her home. The police were involved. She is delusional, VERY ANGRY, and strikes out against anyone that tries to help by filing lawsuits or she will pull their funding. My mother lives alone in a condo in FL. All family has bailed. She's been committed, handcuffed, the next stop is death. I've contacted assisted living facilities in CA, and they told me it has to be her decision to live there. There is nothing I can do but accept her decisions as she rapidly deteriorates and refuses help. She has paperwork from the court declaring her competent (thanks FL!) My boundary is that I will not aid my mother in killing herself, and that means resuming the no-contact, no-communication one. Yes, this very challenging to do. This is not avoiding. I broke free from a cycle of toxicity. This is a solid boundary. I cannot permit it degrade my new life. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Completely estranged from their horrible family, and then learn your parent has disintegrated into nothing while you were getting well and making your own happy family?
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If you get a chance, everyone, google Don't try to reason with unreasonable people. There will be a Psychology Today article that comes up by Susan Biali. It made so much sense to me.

There are some people who don't understand and won't respect boundaries. My mother is one of these people. She respects a boundary only if it is something she doesn't care about. Really, if I had to diagnose her, it wouldn't be dementia. It is more like crazy with some memory loss. (That sounded so disrespectful that I feel bad to say it, but it is true.)

I have set so many boundaries. Some are fine, but others that challenge my mother's control may as well not be set at all. She has no respect for others and will terrorize with threats and yelling. I figured that I was just not good at setting boundaries and was a weak person. But I am thinking that it is not me. In order to set and maintain boundaries you have to be dealing with a person capable of respect. You have to be dealing with a reasonable person.

So, as a hypothetical based on threats I've heard. What if a person wants a pill right now. You say it's not time, so they start yelling that they want it and you should get it right now. You say no. So they say they will trash your room. You say no. So they start breaking your stuff. Now you're stuck with giving in or calling the police. Yes, there are some of us who deal with this type of thing too often. I've been dealing with it all this week and believe me it isn't fun.

Of course, I always have the option of giving her all her pills. But she would end up killing herself with them.

I do like Dr. Biali's suggestions on dealing with the unreasonable person. The best boundary is just not to be around them. Sadly, this is what I do. It makes me sad when I read things by people who write their mother is their best friend. Mine has been and continues to be a terror. You can't establish boundaries with an unreasonable person, so don't even try. Just avoid.
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Boundaries are a challenge to a bully's control!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All I can say is let you yes be yes and you no be no for anything more is a wasted breath.
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Most days I feel my life is all about setting and enforcing boundaries. I took today pretty much for myself and went shopping for a blouse and then went to the senior center gym. My mother was in bed sick all day. I talked her into going out to eat. When we came home it wasn't long until she had her thermometer in her mouth. I have a temperature of 99.6, she announced. Instead of being concerned I asked her why in the world was she checking her temperature.

I thought about how my mother has made a career of being a sick person. She has been sick each day all day long for about 15 years. She checks her symptoms until she finds one that's off, then announces it like "See I'm sick." Often she wants me to take her to the doctor or hospital.

This may not sound like a boundary issue so much, but believe me it is. If I don't put a wall up, she would consume my life with her obsessive symptom checking. I've wondered if she felt that worrying herself (and me) about her health has some function. Maybe she thinks that if she worries enough, then sickness won't sneak up on her.

Unfortunately, my mother sees my boundaries as a challenge to her control. She can be quite the bully in trying to topple them. She mentioned last night that I don't sit and talk to her much. Well, doh. I don't blame me. She could worry the whiskers off a cat.

She ought to just be glad that I'm here.
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It was pointed out to me today that I need to be able to say "NO" and deal with how I feel about that.

My saying No is NOT:
Evidence that I am a bad person
Me just slacking off (heavens, how many things do you do in a day?)
My not caring about the person or the situation
Admitting that I am not able to do it (well maybe it is sometimes)

I need to make my health (mental and physical) as much a priority each day - as much as I do for the loved one I care for.

How did you care better for yourself today by setting a better boundary? I gave mom dinner and told her when I would be back and then left and did not return until then. How about you?
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Building on ff's suggestion, a friend of ours gathers all the crockpots she can find, puts in plastic pot liners and warms all of the food in them. She serves on some of the spiffiest disposable dinnerware and faux flatware.

On jesse's scenario, I think I'd be brave and tell Mom that " unfortunately I don't have the wherewithal to plan, shop for, cook, serve and clean up the most involved dinner of the year, for a large crowd. But perhaps we could host a brunch for them during the holiday season. "
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I recently had to set a boundary with a very narcissistic home improvement person who I did not employ and who would not take my very polite no as the final word. They came down on their rediculous price that was still to high via text messaging to my smartphone.

I said no again and she began to call my smartphone but I denied the calls. Finally, I blocked her from my smartphone and texting, but she left voice mails on my phone which I deleted. I wish smartphones would block the voice mail as well.

I also blocked my home phone from her and it is still blocked.

At last, she used someone else's phone and sent me one more deperate, guilt inflicting text message which I did give the dignity of a replay saying look I told you no and do not contact me again. I have not heard from her since, but a man who has worked for her and now works for me was asked by her to talk with me about not getting back with her and hiring her. He informed me of his request, but told her he was not getting into all of this. I told him that as far as I was concerned, she was a dropped topic and to please not mention her name again.

All of this took place over about 2 or 3 weeks. During the early part of it I was on a trip with my wife and during a very enjoyable time, that woman called and I gladly rejected that call. That call did not get blocked because I failed to activate the blocked calling. It is a two step process. And I went right back to having fun!

I showed her last text using someone else's smartphone to my therapist today. His response was that this woman is a predictor and if she contacts you again should be reported for harassment.

I guess she thought she had me hooked when I paid her the compliment that she looked way too young to have grandchildren for to me she only looked old enough to have a child in senior high. I mean that seriously. She must of had her first child when she was 16 or 18. Well, I'm too smart of a business man to not pay attention to other clues that told me not to hire her along with her ridiculous bid!!!

I even read my polite no to my wife who thought it was very nice. Two weeks agon my therapist said her price was a rip off and even where he lives where the cost of living is higher than here, he would be charged 1/6th of what she was asking.

I had told her and another person that I was getting bids. She lost and the man who was far more reasonable got the job. He did a fine job. He's also worked on my yard which had gotten badly out of control. He did wonderful at a good price for that too.

But dang to be told by my therapist today that she's a predator in his professional opinion is something else.

I'm glad that I set up my boundaries and stuck to them. That woman is a mess and in many ways reminded me of my mom who used her very good looks and charm to manipulate people, including me when I was very young and kept trying to cling onto me into early young adulthood, but that is another story about boundary breaking there which I had to deal with both before and after I got married.
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Avoiding chaos and confusion is how I practice boundaries. With practice, I can now identify it's arrival, even predict re-occuring patterns when they are about to reoccur. So, if that person just drove up to see my husband, I was not even here!
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My local grocery stores cooks the meal, boxes it up, and you pick it up a couple days before the big day.... just heat and serve. You need to order it a week ahead of time.

Now if only the grocery store would come to the house to get it clean and set the table :)
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Cracker Barrel serves Thanksgiving dinner all day. I know it is not fancy but it even includes pie for the price and non-turkey eaters can even have breakfast if they choose. go early it was crowded around here last year.
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Therapy was where I picked up the helpful phrase: "Sometimes, nice is not nice".
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Stating, 'I cannot help you" has not worked for me lately. Because it is my own fault, with very little pressure from another, there I am, attempting a rescue. Going 'no contact' has been the only way to respect my own boundaries!
Friends have, in the past, identified me as a soft touch, meaning that their kids 'saw me coming' and would take advantage because they could 'read me'. Then, the 'friend' took advantage too. Makes me wonder if I am the typical 'patsy' that con artists look for, because of 'collapsible' boundaries.
It is my own fault requiring more effort to strengthen boundaries on my part, then worry about coming across as cold, heartless, mean, distant.
It is either back to therapy, or get another book on boundaries. (that I gave away!) Ha, so hopeless.
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I think we need to realize that our own needs are important. But we need to communicate them with definite statements: I am going downstairs now. I can do one more thing for you this evening, what should that be. I will be back by (pick a time that works for me).

Often I think we are fooled into thinking we are being nice by soliciting input. And the folks who are giving that input can no longer understand our needs and points of view...declaritive statements reflecting our needs...
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You might try an intermediate step if the point is to be the center of attention for Mom and you cannot take any pushback emotionally with any degree of NO.
Do your research first. Find a really neat FANCY and SPECIAL place with food she likes. "Mom, we were going to surprise you but we have reservations for the 3 of us at a very special place. They make really terrific food, and it will let you relax and enjoy the meal without any of the hassles. You know how difficult it will be for the three of us to help prepare the big meal and get everything ready and clean up the house like you want for company. We can invite the others to meet us there if you want, but they'll need to make reservations soon."
I reset the button for Thanksgiving last year with my best friend's 87 year old mom who wants a houseful of people (she is deaf with social anxiety and wants hosted in MY house) and avoided spending first holiday in 5 years with my husband's parents (who went to my BIL's with new wife for the traditional dinner I was not providing hehehe). Ruth Chris did thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, etc. option for Mom. They fussed over her and treated Mom like a queen. They also had fabulous steak options for those who don't like turkey (like my husband who always complains). It was worth every penny.
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Why don't we do an imaginary situation. Suppose you have a dominating mother who wants you to invite your two sisters & families for Thanksgiving. And she wants you to cook a big meal for them. You absolutely dread the thought of your two sisters coming. You don't get along; you hate to cook; and you need a break from Mom. You have secretly been planning to send Mom to one of the sisters' houses and enjoy Thanksgiving alone with your husband. Your mother lives with you and hubby, though, and will be incensed that she won't be able to play hostess to your sisters and her family. How would you handle this, knowing there is no fury like the anger of your Mom having her control challenged?
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My husband's parents are both narcissists. When we found out he would be having surgery, I asked him not to tell them where the surgery would be. I was so stressed out and just wanted to be able to sit and read my book while waiting. We also have a large group of friends that I would be texting updates. MIL cannot sit with me and not require my attention for her litany of ills or family slights. I reminded him that I had requested he be left alone when I had surgery in the past. His parents called the night before surgery and FIL left message that MIL wanted to know where procedure was so he could drop her off to wait with me. So I would be expected to entertain for the day the Parkinson's patient and get her home besides day surgery for husband. Direct appeal worked. He did not call back and we had quiet day focused on his surgery, after care and getting home. I told him if he could not deny them details and they showed up, I would hide in the car. I am not the cruise director. And the desire to be there was not shown for the last two months of medical visits and consults other than compare MIL symptoms to whatever they checked on husband. This kind of broken does not understand polite and has trained its children. I told my husband that he helped create this feeling by leaving his fold at family gatherings. He and his brother don't like being with the folks, he and bro want to see other people. Well, don't look for me to manage them! Took years of therapy to figure out.
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I'm happy to see this discussion. We could use some articles here about this subject by people who know about them.

"I" statements show that you are owning your feelings and your decision. Very often, the person we are setting a boundary with cannot be reasoned. Thus, the need for a boundary.

On the other hand, "you" statements are almost always heard as an attack even when they are not meant to be heard that way. "You make me angry when you do ___" is heard and felt like an attack. "I feel angry when you do _______" is still confronting the person, but it's not a direct attack. I'm sure there are some online articles about this somewhere. We need articles on this if they are not already here.

Boundaries are not for the purpose of modifying someone's behavior or to punish them. They are for self protection for the sake of one's own dignity, self-respect and well being. The only punishment involved comes when they break that boundary which is their choice and they get to experience a consequence.

There needs to be concrete consequences for breaking a boundary. Otherwise the boundary is meaningless.

I find that if I have to defend or explain my boundary that the focus on the boundary gets lost.

I look forward to seeing the further development of this discussion.
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I think one thing is to realize the value of your own life and your own time. Sometimes being a caregiver, you can loose all perspective. I have the tendency to let myself disappear.. my needs, my happiness. We (including myself) need to realize our own worth. We need to stop and focus on our own lives (as much as possible).

I find myself putting my own needs and happiness aside for others.. way too much.
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for me the "hmmm, let me check and get back to you" to buy time works. When I say "no, I am unable to do that" I don't get into the "why not?" because the other will try to argue me out of that - and I have some pretty pushy people in my family. My answer is "I checked - it won't work for me" and repeat over and over - kindly. Remember - you cannot control their requests, demands or anger at boundaries - you can only control your responses. It helps to role play too, if you are trying to set boundaries with someone and you consistently end up giving in.
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To keep perspective. What is the discussion actually about? And avoid "I" and "you" statements.

I find conversations can spiral down quickly once tangents start. And better progress is made if "we" is used as it makes everyone feel included and implies everyone has a part. As in, "Maybe if we...."
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It is actually good to be of help to others, but I cannot help everyone. Noticing that there are many resources for people needing rides to doctor's appointments, I made it a rule not to take people to their dr. Appts. Just that one thing, is setting a boundary, and it is working.
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Some support groups say to avoid making decisions when you are too hungry, too angry, and to defer the decision to another time.

You can make a prepared list of answers to use:
I just cannot answer (or address) that right now.
We will have to talk about that at a later time.
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Yes it is strange how some people are about things...

What tip would you give others about setting boundaries?
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Glasshalfful: What if when one takes that moment, that "pause", to process an answer, but is then accused of being unresponsive?

I have one individual that takes offense to the slightest missed word or hand gesture. So when I'm asked a questions by this individual, I have to pause and process an answer that takes this into consideration. If I take too long, this person storms off thinking I am ignoring the question.
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So I realize that I have issues with setting boundaries and saying NO...to everyone.

My tip is to pause when something else is requested and consider how this will impact me personally (do I have the time, strength, etc, to take this on) It has helped me say no or make preemptive decisions about new responsibilities.
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