Archive for the ‘Personal Boundaries’ Category

Having been on the receiving end of many of these phrases and been made to feel like it is my burden alone to carry, it is time many of our called Christian favourite pull-out phrases go under the microscope. We tout these out making us feel like we have responded in a caring, Christian manner when in fact we have only added to the isolation and pain. Some of the responses below aren’t even biblical. Like many other sayings, they have come about from home spun, pull yourself up theology. I never want to be on the receiving end of these again, nor do I want to ever find myself saying them to someone in painful, messy, traumatic circumstances. Instead I hope to offer practical help, just turn up with the cleaning gear, the meal, the hug and never ever offer empty phrases or wait to be asked to help out. It also means forgiving those, who in their narrowness and inabilities, didn’t intentionally mean to harm. And hope through grace and maturity will grow to be more caring and embracing of pain in others.

Marilyn R. Gardner


  1. God will never give you more than you can handle. While some may believe it is theologically correct, depending on your definitions, it is singularly unhelpful to the person who is neck-deep in a crisis, trying to swim against a Tsunami. A wonderful phrase recently came from Support for Special Needs. They suggest changing this from “God will never give you more than you can handle” to “Let me come over and help you do some laundry.” This strikes me as even more theologically correct.
  2. It gets better. Yes, yes it does. But right then, it’s not better. And before it gets better, it may get way worse.
  3. When God shuts a door, he opens a window. Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe he just shuts a door. Maybe there is no window. There was no window for Job. There was a cosmic battle that raged as he sat in distress. There…

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This come courtesy from Weightless. It is good advice all round – regardless of what illness or pain we have in the household and how to cherish each other and our relationships.

Be someone's safe placeListen to your loved one without judging or criticizing them.

Listen without fiddling with your phone.

Listen without interrupting.

Be curious. Don’t jump to conclusions, and assume you know what they’re going to say or why they feel the way they feel. Ask open-ended questions.

Don’t bash others’ bodies or your own in front of your loved ones.

Don’t make negative comments about their body.

Don’t make comments about the calories in their food or how much they’re eating (e.g., “Wow, you can really put ‘em away!” “Are you sure you want that second helping?”)

Avoid saying “You’ve lost weight! You look great!” We never know why someone might’ve lost weight. They might’ve been terribly sick or stressed out. They might’ve just stopped a restrictive diet. They might have an unhealthy relationship with food. In other words, we just never know. It also makes people wonder, “did I look bad before?” Either way, it can be potentially upsetting or triggering for someone.

Respect their boundaries. Let them decline invitations they’re not interested in. Give them the space to say no to extra commitments. If they’re not ready to reveal what’s bothering them, try to respect that, too.

Hug them.

Hold their hand.

Tell them you love them.

Tell them why you love them.

If you feel comfortable, be vulnerable with them.

Keep their secrets secret.

If you find yourself getting angry, take a break. Take a breather. No one feels safe opening up to someone who’s boiling over and yelling.

Validate their feelings. Let them feel what they’re feeling. They’re not wrong, weak or selfish for having those feelings. Again, get curious.

Why are you feeling this way? What happened? Help me understand how you’re feeling.

Ask how you can help: What can I do for you? How can I help you with this? What do you need? Ask this regularly.

Ask them directly about safety and self-care: How do you feel safe? How can I help you to feel safe? To take kinder care of yourself? To feel the way you’d like to feel?

Of course, we may try our best to create a safe space for our loved ones, and we may mess up, because, well, we’re human. These are just suggestions and reminders that we can do many things to help others feel safe, too. When we inevitably make a mistake, we can be honest, we can apologize, and we can keep trying.

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No matter how good our intentions at times, we can find it very hard to stand alone and not become part of the crowd we hang with. It is so easy to take on mannerisms, beliefs, attitudes, habits etc without even realising. It doesn’t matter whether you are online or in a physical social environment. We become, far too easy, what is around us. We may have the best hope and strength for recovery, but the everyday whittling away from those around us, particularly the online environment, can find us falling back into relapse or struggling more than we need to in our recovery.

Where our mind or thoughts are focussed on, that is where our heart resides.

We might have to rethink our lives, clear things out, stay away from social media, make new friends, look at our spiritual self, make our homes a safe and strong environment. Whatever it takes to continue recovery, to continue health.


If you spend the most time with people who are consumed by calorie-counting and their appearance, you’ll probably start watching your food and nit-picking your body.

If you spend the most time with people who bash their bodies and themselves, you’ll probably start looking at yourself with disappointed, angry eyes.

If you spend the most time with people who consider themselves martyrs, you’ll probably start to feel selfish for practicing any kind of self-care.

If you spend the most time with people who don’t respect your privacy, like to gossip and are very judgmental, you’ll probably feel alone and hesitate to open up to anyone. You may even view humanity with some suspicion and dread.

If you spend the most time with people who have zero boundaries and get upset when you set yours, you might find it hard to have a healthy relationship with both them and yourself.

If you spend the most time with people who have strong boundaries and treat themselves kindly, you’ll probably be inspired to do the same.

If you spend the most time with people who love to laugh, really listen to their loved ones and practice self-care, you’ll probably feel more fulfilled and energised yourself.

If you spend the most time with people who love you for the real you, you might be inspired to turn this love inward and start the process of loving yourself.

It’s the same with the shows we watch, the books we read, the places we go, the things in our homes. We often are our environments. That’s why I suggest recycling diet books and “health” publications and creating a home that nourishes you and helps you feel good about yourself.



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You are given permission to let go of:

  • the scale
  • diet books and cookbooks
  • beliefs that you’re not good enough
  • stories that you need to earn — through your accomplishments, appearance and actions — respect or love or kindness
  • the view that you can’t be your top priority because it’s selfish or you don’t have the time
  • your endless list of chores
  • yelling
  • the idea that happiness resides in smaller jeans
  • a longtime fear
  • restriction — whether a diet rule or working too hard
  • the need to please others
  • the need to control others’ behavior
  • waiting to take tender care of yourself until you lose weight
  • a regret
  • staying silent
  • guilt over eating certain foods
  • a subscription to a magazine that makes you feel like crap
  • expectations that you must do everything perfectly
  • stories surrounding what you should be or what you should do
  • a friend who puts you down
  • the idea that thin — and only thin — is beautiful
  • the idea that a good workout has to be painful
  • the idea that you need to “work off” everything you eat
  • the idea that you can’t love your body right now, without changing a thing

The Let it Go Project and Weightless.

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Often, we think we need to figure everything out by ourselves. Or we withdraw or isolate ourselves when we’re going through tough times. Eating disorders in particular are even more so at risk for isolation. The illness itself can be described as an illness of loneliness.

But turning to others — the people who genuinely care about us and have our best interests at heart — can give us new, valuable perspectives. It can remind us that we’re not alone. It can boost our mood and ease our pain. Even in the midst of us pushing them away.

building a support system

And having a support system can help us in building a more positive body image and taking better care of ourselves.

Who are the people in your life you can turn to? Who are the people you can count as your support system? Who can become a helpful resource to you (such as a therapist or yoga instructor)?

Here are some ideas for creating your support system and letting others help you:

  • Talking to a friend about your body image struggles.
  • Having a co-worker join you for a walk during your lunch break.
  • Scheduling a weekly or monthly heart-to-heart session on Skype with a loved one.
  • Working with a local therapist or coach — by phone and email — to help you develop a more positive body image and fulfilling life.
  • Working with a nutritionist who helps you develop a healthier, more peaceful relationship with food and your body.
  • Emailing with a gratitude buddy about three things you’re grateful for every week (including one thing that’s about your body).
  • Meditating alongside your partner. Here are several meditations to try.
  • Taking an e-course on anything from practicing yoga to nourishing your body and getting support from both the instructor and your fellow students.
  • Joining organizations or support groups, which have like-minded members.

Sometimes, the people surrounding you might not have the same priorities or principles (for instance, maybe they’re knee deep in the diet mentality and even make rude comments about other people’s weight).

But remember, like I mention above, your support system can come from many different areas: It might be friends or family who live far away but can chat on Skype every week.

It might be a therapist who specializes in helping people heal their body image or self-image issues. It might be a yoga instructor who helps you learn to listen to your body and practice self-compassion.

Today, make a list of at least three people — family, friends, co-workers, professional practitioners — who can become part of your support system. Then reach out to each one.

Remember, you don’t have to heal your body image hurts alone. Because you’re not alone.

Main text from: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2014/01/body-image-booster-build-your-support-system/

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setting clear boundariesSetting clear personal boundaries is the key to ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, supportive and caring. Boundaries are a measure of self-esteem. They set the limits for acceptable behavior from those around you, determining whether they feel able to put you down, make fun, or take advantage of your good nature.

Your personal boundaries also define who you are as an individual. They maintain a line between “you” and “me”, recognising that we have different thoughts, feelings, beliefs, experiences and needs. Without boundaries, we would all meld together; there would be nothing distinguishing one person from another. Your personality and individuality are dependent on boundaries. People with poor boundaries easily conform to those around them; dress the same way, think the same way, even feel what people around them are feeling – there are a lot of “me too!”s at the expense of your own identity.

Close, meaningful relationships also require each person involved to have personal boundaries. Boundaries allow you to connect with another person as a distinct and unique individual. You can only value and celebrate each other for who each of you are, both in your similarities and differences, if you have clear personal boundaries. Without being able to express our individual differences and be accepted for who we are, our relationships would be much less meaningful and fulfilling. Authentic relationships can only form and flourish when individual differences are allowed to exist, and when personal boundaries are upheld.

Learning to set healthy personal boundaries is necessary for maintaining a positive self-concept, or self-image. It is our way of communicating to others that we have self-respect, self-worth, and will not allow others to define us.

Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.

It would not be possible to enjoy healthy relationships without the existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate them directly and honestly with others. We must recognize that each of us is a unique individual with distinct emotions, needs and preferences. This is equally true for our spouses, children and friends.

To set personal boundaries means to preserve your integrity, take responsibility for who you are, and to take control of your life.

How to establish healthy personal boundaries

Recognize that other people’s needs and feelings are not more important than your own. Many women have traditionally thought that the needs of their husbands and children are more important than their own. This is not only untrue, but it can undermine the healthy functioning of the family dynamic. If a woman is worn out mentally and physically from putting everyone else first, she not only destroys her own health, she in turn deprives her family of being fully engaged in their lives. Instead, she should encourage every family member to contribute to the whole as well as take care of himself or herself. Putting themselves last  is not something only women do, but many men as well.

Learn to say no. Many of us are people-pleasers and often put ourselves at a disadvantage by trying to accommodate everyone. We don’t want to be selfish, so we put our personal needs on the back burner and agree to do things that may not be beneficial to our well-being. Actually, a certain amount of “selfishness” is necessary for having healthy personal boundaries. You do not do anyone any favors, least of all yourself, by trying to please others at your own expense.

Identify the actions and behaviors that you find unacceptable. Let others know when they’ve crossed the line, acted inappropriately, or disrespected you in any way. Do not be afraid to tell others when you need emotional and physical space. Allow yourself to be who you really are without pressure from others to be anything else. Know what actions you may need to take if your wishes aren’t respected.

Trust and believe in yourself. You are the highest authority on you. You know yourself best. You know what you need, want, and value. Don’t let anyone else make the decisions for you. Healthy boundaries make it possible for you to respect your strengths, abilities and individuality as well as those of others. An unhealthy imbalance occurs when you encourage neediness, or are needy; want to be rescued, or are the rescuer, or when you choose to play the victim.

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries

  • Going against personal values or rights in order to please others.
  • Giving as much as you can for the sake of giving.
  • Taking as much as you can for the sake of taking.
  • Letting others define you.
  • Expecting others to fill your needs automatically.
  • Feeling bad or guilty when you say no.
  • Not speaking up when you are treated poorly.
  • Falling apart so someone can take care of you.
  • Falling “in love” with someone you barely know or who reaches out to you.
  • Accepting advances, touching and sex that you don’t want.
  • Touching a person without asking.

When we possess healthy personal boundaries:

✓ We have improved self-confidence and a healthy self-concept.

✓ We are more in touch with reality.

✓ Are better able to communicate with others.

✓ Have better more fulfilling relationships.

✓ Have more stability and control over our lives.


From: http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/personalboundaries.html

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It’s about learning what are healthy boundaries. How to protect ourselves, our identity, our health, our mental state.

Boundaries work two ways – us protecting ourselves from others who don’t respect our boundaries; and us learning to respect other’s boundaries.

Often those with mental health illnesses have never learnt to build boundaries that protect them from people, situations and emotions around them. We have allowed others to crash our boundaries, giving up our rights and identity to others.

But more than that, eating disorders being the nature they are, are another unwanted crasher of boundaries. We can learn to push back people who would treat us like this, but will still allow the eating disorder to destroy and deny us every human right and life itself.

Recovery encompasses learning to build healthy, loving boundaries that respect us as people and keep us safe. We learn to set limits on the people who hurt and deny us, but we also learn to set boundaries on the eating disorder. We learn to tell it “you cannot come here again”.

Like all boundary building this takes time. It is not easy learning to build boundaries. We feel like we may be selfish or manipulative but building boundaries are not like that. It is critical, healthy and right to do so. It takes time and practice to build the boundaries. To tell people they cannot talk or treat you like this. And most importantly for those with an ED, that it is no longer welcome. You will not give it the time of day, it cannot continue to treat you this way or destroy you life.

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