Do you ever feel responsible for the circumstances or the feelings of other people? Do you often find yourself in chronic indecision?
When you have to make a choice, do you ask everyone you know what you should do before you take action?
If you are nodding your head right now, then this episode is for you because I’m going to be sharing with you 5 signs your emotional boundaries need help!
I recently facilitated a Boundary Bootcamp weekend retreat at The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Out of the five areas of boundaries (physical, sexual, material, mental and emotional), 97% of the people in attendance said they struggled most with emotional boundaries.
And I thought, well if they are struggling with emotional boundaries, lots of other people out there in the world might be able to use a tune-up in this area as well!
First, what are emotional boundaries?
Emotional boundaries make up the invisible line between your emotions and your responsibilities and the emotions and responsibilities of other people.
When your emotional boundaries are weak or disordered, you can take on other people’s stuff like it’s yours or feel responsible for “fixing” their issues.
Disordered emotional boundaries can mean you feel guilty about other people’s feelings, especially if you think you’ve hurt someone’s feelings or that they don’t approve of what you’re doing.
Do your emotional states easily fluctuate based on the emotional states of others? This can be another indication of disordered emotional boundaries. For example, your kid or your partner comes home and you are in a great mood, but they are upset or sour over something. Suddenly, your good mood evaporates and you are in it with them, whatever the situation might be.
Here are some more symptoms of disordered emotional boundaries:
- Chronic Indecision
You have a hard time making decisions and ruminate about what to do or about what you did or didn’t decide. You might do copious research before you make a choice. You may excessively worry about making a mistake which inspires you to ask everyone around you what they think you should do. Being in a state of chronic indecision is exhausting and can block you from taking action in your life. I did an entire episode on indecision with tips and strategies to help you be more decisive and you can check that out here.
You are overly invested in the feeling states, the outcomes, the circumstance, and the decisions of the people in your life to the detriment of your internal peace and wellbeing. How can you tell if you are codependent? When something happens to someone in your life, they have a problem or an issue, check your urgency. Does it feel like it is happening to you? Do you feel compelled to help or fix it? That is a codependent response.
Here’s another codependent red flag:
Every time you think, “I don’t want them to think…” or “I don’t want them to feel…” take note. This is an indication you need to get the heck back onto your side of the street because what they think and how they feel is on their side of the street.
- Auto-advice Giving
If you immediately start doling out advice about what someone should do when they are discussing an issue – even if they have not asked you for input – that is an indication of disordered emotional boundaries.
I understand that you might want to help, sure. But unless someone has asked for your help, giving it on auto-pilot is dysfunctional. When we do that (and I’m a recovering codependent, so I’ve been right there with you), we are centering the other person’s problem on ourselves because their pain causes us pain. What we really want is for our pain to stop. But it can be just as painful for the people in our lives to be bombarded by what we think they should do. And who are we to know what’s right for them? They might just need to talk and for us to hold space for them to figure it out on their own.
- Emotional Reactivity
Emotional reactivity means we don’t have space between when something happens and our emotions taking over. There are no moments to ponder. It is literally the definition of a knee-jerk reaction. What is really happening in these situations is we get thrown into the fight, flight, or freeze mode.
What does it look like? We can attack, blame, name-call, analyze, pursue or yell. We can withdraw, isolate ourselves, deny, stonewall, or get numb. We can defend or avoid. Emotional reactivity blocks problem-solving and can create a lot of unfinished business in relationships.
We need to have a certain amount of emotional regulation skills because everything isn’t a five-alarm emergency. But when you have disordered emotional boundaries, it can feel that way, because you might always be in primal survival mode. Being in a perpetual state of emotional reactivity is draining and not great for your relationships or for you.
Overfunctioning is taking on too much responsibility. This can look like doing things for others they can and should be doing for themselves. It’s volunteering and doing things people aren’t asking you to do. There is a compulsion to provide value and to secure your worthiness by going above and beyond within your relationships.
What ends up happening eventually is you can end up angry, bitter, and feeling like you are being taken advantage of…even if you are volunteering to do all this crap. The thing with over-functioning is even if people are grateful, the reality is nobody can ever be grateful enough because your motivation is coming from a disordered place. You’re not driven solely by love, you are likely being driven by the fear of rejection or abandonment.
When your emotional boundaries are disordered, over-functioning can feel like less of a choice and more a compulsion, and unfortunately, it can negatively impact our relationships.
If this is resonating with you, and you want to learn more about how to get your emotional boundaries into a strong, healthy, vibrant, and flexible place, you’re in luck!
Enrollment for Boundary Bootcamp closes at midnight tonight and I would love to spend the next 8 weeks teaching you how to become a true Boundary Boss.
I’d love to know what you think about emotional boundaries–what are your challenges? What are your questions? Drop me your comments here (I read them all) or connect with me on Instagram @terricole. ❤️
My gift to you today is a special guided meditation to help soothe any jangled nerves or anxiety you might have around boundary setting and emotional boundaries. You can download it right here.
Thank you for your commitment to being the very best version of yourself and as always, take care of you.