Setting boundaries is a form of empathy. Sometimes someone close to you needs to thrash on their own the same way a kid needs you to let go of the bike so they can learn ride on their own. Codependency with emotional expression is a common way to avoid self-assessment and exacerbate blame. Blame creates distance from pointing the finger inward. And I get it. The ego doesn't want to be the asshole. I don't want to be the asshole. "Everyone else is the asshole." But trust me, everyone gets a turn at being the asshole and when we realize how we've been the asshole we make important shifts. Not setting a boundary keeps you both in a drama triangle like Batman, The Joker, and Gotham City stuck in a dance that is an everlong stalemate. You just toss the ball back and forth to see who gives in first. War only ends one of two ways, you drop your sword or they drop theirs. Setting boundaries is the result of strengthening your self value and in turn, gaining leverage. To keep engaging in heightened emotional codependency is an enormous waste of time, energy, focus, talent, and purpose. Setting boundaries is an attempt to remind someone that you are not their enemy, savior, or victim. I am not the focus of your frustration and I won't tolerate abuse of our relationship that I cherish. Boundaries remind others that you're human and not an emotional punching bag. So, how do you set boundaries? Audit your time, energy, and attention: Begin prioritizing what's important to you in your daily life. You can't set a boundary if you don't value your inner resources. If you have no sense of self-value then of course you'll give all of your energy away to anyone who asks for it. If you know what your energy is worth you can begin to develop core principles that define how you want your energy to be respected. You can start to notice when those boundaries are crossed. You'll begin to know what it feels like in your mind and body when those principles are disrespected. Change your role: Those caught in a codependency triangle are typically playing a role of hero, villain, or victim. There's someone needing to be saved, you've been oppressed, or you're out for blood or chaos. Each of these roles require the other roles in order to have a personal sense of purpose and value. A Hero is nothing without a victim to save. A Villain has no purpose if there not hero to foil. A victim can't continue to express helplessness if there is not villain oppressing them or hero to save them. Each of these roles is trying to or needing to fix someone or change a perspective to keep feeling a false sense of self whether that's superior or inferior. Begin to save yourself. Or become someone that provides ideas but doesn't have a stake in the outcome. Or challenge an idea by testing its merit without tying your self worth to whether or not someone is affected by what you do. Speak your truth: If this person is making you feel uncomfortable then tell them. If someone is crossing the line then tell them. If family is abusing the relationship to emotionally vomit on you then tell them honestly and personally. Call them in privately, don't call them out publicly. They very likely won't like this and will begin to thrash. Their assumptions of your relationship are being questioned and the brain goes haywire. This is where you need to stand your ground and do so without further warning. They may call you names and whatever other tricks they've got up their sleeve. The more personal the relationship, the higher the risk of hitting a nerve. This is when you'll need to follow up with a consequence and be prepared to follow through. At this point, if you've told your truth and they refuse to hear it then there needs to be an external response that lets them know you won't be playing the role they want you to play. Block, mute, ignore, stop engaging, pull away, leave the room, etc. No one gets special privileges to walk all over you but it's up to you to not only take the time to assess your own value but to also remind them of how much you value the relationship by honoring yourself. By doing that you lead by example and give them the opportunity to do that for themselves.
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