One of things I have to watch as a recovering codependent is my tendency to forget that I have self-authority.
I sometimes forget that I CAN set boundaries around the time and energy I invest in others’ needs, desires, and struggles until the sensations of frustration, powerlessness and/or overwhelm set in.
These days, I catch myself giving my power away much more quickly than I ever have, which means that these sensations usually only live in my body for a few minutes or hours, as opposed to days, weeks, and even years at a time as they used to. I feel proud of the healing work I’ve done to get here. I’m also fascinated by the pattern I now see clearly:
Old reaction: Drop everything I’m doing and start fixing/giving/consoling/helping compulsively.
Intentional response: Breathe deeply, check in with my physical sensations, and calm my system if activated. Decide whether or not I want to invest in helping this person, when, how much time and attention I want (and have!) to give them, and what exactly I’m agreeing to.
Old reaction: Feel anxious, tense, and worried until the problems are resolved, or until I could feel sufficiently and consistently helpful. Feel especially soothed if I could “FIX” the person’s problem and help them back to a more peaceful place, even if it meant absorbing their anxiety and stress.
Intentional response: Notice what’s happening in my body. Go for a walk, lie down and breathe, or do some journaling to help myself get clear on what my responsibilities and feelings are, and what I’m absorbing from the other person. Reach out and ask how I can be most helpful instead of assuming I know what’s best for the other person. Decide, based on their request, whether I want and/or am able to give what is being asked of me from my own overflow, as opposed to the marrow of my bones.
Old reaction: Channel my inner task master and push through because I love this person and love is demonstrated through exhausting effort, saviorism, and self-denial. Eventually feel resentment building because my own needs aren’t being considered (by myself or anyone else).
Intentional response: Notice when I’m moving out of my window of tolerance. Decide what boundaries I need to set in order to protect my energy. Express to others any boundaries that need expressing (I sometimes still feel clumsy with and challenged by this part).
Recently, I’ve also noticed that:
Here’s to learning to confidently hold boundaries… and receiving deeper healing, connection, and joy as a result!
Big love to you, brave mama,