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Boundaries. Thursday June 8, 2017

Boundaries confuse me. I constantly struggle to set the boundaries that I feel I need to enable me to look after myself well, whilst still maintaining relations with friends and family.

If I don't have some boundaries in place I end up feeling burnt out, taken for granted, insecure and then low. So low that the black hole then comes calling.

People pleasing is my 'problem,' and trying to get everything perfectly right all the time along with perfect manners, perfect interactions etc, etc... Phew! I feel exhausted just writing that last sentence!

How can I really know where a healthy boundary should be? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

Are you able to set 'healthy' boundaries which allow you to care for yourself?

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Molly Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 12:50am

I think it is best just to be yourself. I pondered over your blog and struggled a bit. I don't think there should be boundaries really. I believe we are more respected if we put on a front. But personally I am not prepared to do that. Be yourself. Thanks for making me think Jane xx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:19pm

Thanks Molly. Sorry I'm a little late I have been at work in London today. On the train now sitting comfortably and ready to read and respond to everyone. I agree Molly, I think we should be able to feel that we can be ourselves. I think I'm rather mad though! Not sure how people would take me, I've learnt to put up a front and I'm now learning to take it down again!

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:22pm


Molly Sat, Jun 10th 2017 @ 3:08am

I think we are all a bit mad Jane :-) xx

Hopeful One Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 7:51am

Hi Jane SG- Thanks for that thought provoking blog.Yes boundaries are important and necessary if one believes in Freudian theory where breaches are considered significant and subject to further analysis. I feel we need boundaries mainly for our self care and our self preservation.They ,in a way ,define us- what we are prepared to accept ,tolerate,give,take and so on.

One boundary I do struggle with is being PC especially when it comes to a joke.Many of our jokes are jokes because they are often not PC.I hope this laugh does not breach anyone's boundary but if it does my apologies!

An elderly lady goes to see her doctor for her annual checkup.The young doctor who examines her tells her that she is in good shape for her age.He then asks her if he could look at the tablets she is taking to see if if she needs to carry on taking them at all.She shows him her pills and among them she has contraceptive pills. The doctor asks"What are these for? You don't really need them at your age."She says"They are my sleeping pills"The young doctor is surprised and tells her "They are not sleeping pills" So she replies."Oh yes they are.I crush one every morning and put them my grand daughter's fruit juice and that helps me to get a good sleep.

Tutti Frutti Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 8:05am

I like it! TF x

Orangeblossom Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 9:09am

I brilliant!

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:22pm

Ooh er! I love your jokes HO. My favourite act on Britains Got Talent this year was the very non PC comedian! Thank you for your response x

Jul Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 7:58am

Hello Jane SG. Your blog is very timely for me as I am having to set boundaries right many demands on my time and emotions in the last day or so. I do agree with Molly that probably the best thing is to be yourself but sometimes that means giving too much of your time and energy to someone or people who just absorb all your kindness and continue to ask for more..At this stage you get burnt out and drained. It's a difficult one! I successfully put up boundaries recently and it worked for a while and then I found myslef slipping back into my old ways so I guess our personalities win in the end. I understand exactly where you are coming from Jane. A good blog thank you. Julxx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:25pm

Thanks Jul, I'm glad it was timely for you. Yes I find setting boundaries a daily battle as, as you say, personality fights back. Unfortunately this is not always to my advantage! X

Tutti Frutti Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 8:03am

Hi Jane
I think boundaries can be really difficult. I find it easier at work where I think I expect to have to set out clearly what I can and can't take on and when I can get things done by and I have to make sure others do stuff for me. I think the key at work is that I don't get so caught up in guilt for saying no. With family and friends we are in agreement a lot of the time so I can be a bit taken aback if they suddenly expect me to do something that I think is an unreasonable demand. Usually it's that they want me to go the extra mile on something which is good in itself. For example one of my best friends who organises the after church lunch for the older folk. I had volunteered to help out with a group of others but she had an extra gap in her rota so she assumed that I would be prepared to do the whole thing (cooking for 20) on my own/persuade the rest of my family who hadn't volunteered to come and help too. When my family wouldn't help (unsurprising as my husband hates cooking and both he and my daughter are really fussy eaters) I had to tell my friend I thought she was asking too much and I couldn't do the lunch. I found this really difficult and felt very awkward and guilty. However I did stick to my guns (have since helped with the lunch as one of three volunteers) and my friend and I didn't fall out over it.

So a really difficult area Jane. Have courage!
Love TF x

Jul Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 8:42am

You did really well there Tutti with your friend and the lunch. When I've had to make a similar type of difficult decision in the past, Ive found it has definitely been the right one for everyone involved. Difficult at the time but if I remember past experiences it should make it easier in the future when this sort of demand arises. Jul xx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:29pm

This was brave of you Tutti Frutti and I'm so glad you were able to stand up for yourself. It's a great example of how you can set a boundary which cares for yourself without causing upset, as everything turned out ok. Well done! I lack courage in this area, it's something I need to work on. X

Orangeblossom Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 9:03am

Hi Jane, thanks for the blog. My roles in life mean I have to constantly negotiate boundaries. However, it is a work in progress. I have to constantly negotiate boundaries.

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:31pm

Thanks for your response Orangeblossom. This sounds tiring, is it? Or are you adept at it? Do you get negative responses? X

Dolphin Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 9:59am

Please go on posting everyone and thanks for writing this Jane. I struggle with boundaries too so I am interested in your responses.

I also have the syndrome of feeling resentful and taken for granted when I give too much and then decline into a deeper depression. But then in my head I have the refrain from my family of origin - you are too fussy, stop making a fuss, you are too prickly etc. I know this is way back in time, but I really am not able to judge myself. Am I too harsh/ demanding or am I a doormat?? Or do I swing between the two? Or was my ex-partner (like my original family) too demanding and manipulative when I stood my ground? I like Molly's advice to be yourself, but what is my authentic self?! Maybe I should look to my friends for a mirror because I have long-standing, loyal friends who seem to like me....

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:35pm

OMG, reading your comment was like looking in a mirror Dolphin! I give too much and then feel resentment and then I get low. When I give less I am constantly questioning myself, am I too harsh etc! I like your idea of asking for feedback from longstanding friends. Friends who like you and can be honest, but gentle, with their feedback. I do sometimes ask a friend but tend to ask my kids more! Not really fair on my twelve year old although she seems wise beyond her years xx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 7:27pm

Also I was brought up to never upset others and make excuses for them. So I understand about the impact of family of origin xx

Rachel Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 10:21am

Very thought provoking, thank you! There seems to be guilt attached to these boundaries? I make sure I eat well, sleep and rest when I need. I avoid energy draining people! I am a people pleaser too but I know I have to look after myself first.

If you exhaust yourself life and people carry on regardless.

I got tired of watching from the darkness and exhaustion. I want to join in! And to be able to do that I have boundaries. I still run round like a loon trying to please everyone! However with lots of practice over many years I am learning a mechanisms/boundaries that seems to come so naturally to some.

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:39pm

Hi Rachel, yes a lot of guilt is attached when I try to put myself first. And also some worry that people may stop liking me or stop being my friends. However I do realise if that was the case then they are not worth it. But I'm also a naturally caring person. Well I hope I am! Im interested that you say you still run around people pleasing but you have learnt to set some boundaries. How did you do that? Have they made a difference to you? X

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 10:41pm

Rachel, your comment 'if you exhaust yourself life and people carry on regardless,' has really stuck in my mind tonight. Thank you, this was really helpful xx

Rachel Fri, Jun 9th 2017 @ 7:52am

Hi Jane, as I say I am still learning! Someone else commente about coping mechanisms being similar. I never sat down to eat. I do now. I recognise signs that I am getting tired and rest and am not guilty.. I limit my time with energy sapping people. I make sure I do little things I enjoy - it can be as simply as sitting down with a good cup of coffee. To be able to enoy life and people I have to be well myself. Have a good weekend

Jane SG Fri, Jun 9th 2017 @ 1:59pm

I like the idea of making time for the smaller enjoyable moments. I'm going to work on this. Thanks Rachel. You too have a good weekend x

Leah Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 11:27am

What an honest blog. I don't have boundaries but I wish I had an indicator to say enough is enough before I take on more and then get exhausted and rundown. I have no answers just more questions. Why don't I see the signs that I have taken on too much.Leah xx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:40pm

I like the idea of a traffic light indicator Leah. Maybe a watch that turns amber as a warning that we are heading to the dangerous burnt out red zone! Xx

The Gardener Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 11:38am

I think Tutti Frutti and Jul have possibly explained, with practical examples, what Jane might be getting at. 'Boundaries' has so many implications - I see these more as knowing your limitations - perhaps learn not to step out of your 'comfort zone' (horrible expression). My current 'boundaries' are more strategies to help me when I feel I am being driven out of control. De-fusing the situation vital. I see actual 'boundaries' in the bringing up of children (we are g-g parents). If you say to a child 'if you do so and so x will happen'. If 'x' does not happen when they over-step the mark then they lose all respect for authority, knowing threats are empty. You may enter a battle of will, but the boundaries are there. Our eldest son was, like so many teenagers, out of step with parental and school authority. He dropped out of 'A' levels, and therefore had no targets. The 'crunch' came. He mucked about with motor bikes, and refused to wash his oily hands when he came to table. We said wash them, he said no. So no family meals - his four siblings thought he was God and were all prepared to follow suit. Outcome? We gave him a one-way ticket to Australia and told him to come back when he was better. It worked. A better man you could not wish to meet now. Apparently, talking to his headmaster many years later - the peer group, hell at school, all became most responsible citizens. I think what we did was pioneering - created the equivalent of the 'gap' year which did not exist in the 70's. Other parents were profoundly shocked (but I think might have wished they were brave enough to follow suit when I remember what they put up with!)

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:43pm

WOW! A drastic and brave thing to do. Thank you so much for sharing this dear Gardener. I'm so glad it worked out xx

The Gardener Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 11:41am

Apologies to Leah - our son was not sent to Oz like an old-time convict, we had contacts there

Leah Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 11:51am

I wish my parents had sent me to Uk or Europe for a few years, I had to send myself !! See Uk sent us all your convicts and look what we did, we send our comedians and singers and actors back to you- is that payback.

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:43pm

Oh this made me chuckle! Xx

LP Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 12:55pm

Hi Jane,
I have believed that this is at the core of my anxiety and depression.
As HO says, the Freudian type theory about childhood experiences of boundaries being breached having an impact in adult life, would certainly make sense with the things that have led to symptoms of anxiety and depression.

There is the doubt though that maybe my belief that this has been the case has in itself led to the persistence of the difficulties?
Probably both are true.

By coincidence, I experienced what felt like a breach of my boundaries at work yesterday which led to an immediate fight or flight response. Tears that I couldn't hide. Social embarrassment so awful. I have physical and mental symptoms of stress and anxiety. I am not well enough to even talk about work at the moment, it's like I've shut down.
It's been a longtime since this has happened at work, but it is what it is.
Life throws stuff at us and it's about patient and gentle recovery. Knowing that I'll get back to what is normal for me and it will take time and that's ok. Less time than it used to for which I am grateful. It's a dip.

Am looking after my wellbeing in all the ways I can.
I know it's me me me, who else would it be about? :)) I have the right to feel safe and well, even at work!
It'll be a challenge not to think about it, but every time I realise that I am, I'll gently notice it and bring my awareness back to where I am and my breathing. Distracting myself with nice things maybe. A walk and a stretch would be nice if I can. Some decent food, keep hydrated and hopefully a nap or an early night will help.
Colleagues have been great. I've put the embarrassment to one side and simply said what it is so they know.
Management have a poor track record and I predicted that something was a foot from hints that had been dropped. So I have no great expectations in their ability or willingness to accept that work related stress causes me anxiety. Seems obvious to me.
You're right Jane, we who seek to prove our worth can be overly giving in order to please. We want harmony.

I think at the time it's difficult to see the boundary. Where it is, is it "right"?
In the moment when logic is taken over by emotion and the body is giving early warning signs, for me is a sign about a boundary. The aim I guess is for the warning signs to remain in proportion. If they're unmanageable, help is needed.
I was so overwhelmed yesterday, that I forgot to do any breathing or awareness exercises when I excused my self for several minutes. I'll try carrying something as a reminder maybe, see if it helps. Knowing myself it takes a good couple of days to a week with plenty of sleep for the heightened symptoms to settle down. I am very determined to protect myself from prolonged anxiety. It's a very clear boundary and would go to my go if I were worried.

I hope by sharing that you are not alone and how I have learned to take small steps forward, something from it may be of use to you Jane.
Wishes for tranquility and cheer to you and all thank you for the much needed relief of a smile Today HO! :) .LPxx

Jul Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 2:31pm

Hi LP. I am so very sorry you had such difficulties yesterday at work. I too had a difficult embarrassing day yesterday writing stuff I regretted afterwards. I was worried it would cause me a sleepless night going over it in my mind but I did what you have successfully done..put the destructive thoughts to one side and tried to bring my mind back to thoughts which are uplifting and positive. I know that it's my over emotional state right now which contributed to the embarrassing outbursts but actually today I think I did the right thing , cringeworthy as it felt at the time. I have had some positive reaction to it which relaxed me and made me feel so much better. I think you too will feel good about yesterday. Courage my friend. Julxx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 6:47pm

Dear LP, I'm going to reply properly to this shortly as my train is nearly at the station. Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing this. I'm going to give this some thought and reply shortly xxx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 7:32pm

So LP, I'm home with a cup of tea in my hand! I've thought about your response. My instincts are that I feel really proud of you and for you because you were authentic and also honest with colleagues. I think being honest, and daring to show ourselves in entirety takes courage. Good for you colleagues for being so understanding, they sound great. Around 3-4 weeks ago I had to abruptly leave the office at 10am for the day as I had what I call a 'stroppy b...h' moment and I was going to start swearing. The slight on me was a minor one but it was enough to tip me over! The result, I had time out and even wrote a poem about it which I shared with someone I feel close to and can trust. It's about hearing and seeing he warning signs I believe and knowing when to step back. Thank you LP. It's so good to know I'm not alone xxx

LP Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 10:44pm

Oh Jul, we must be kindred spirits! Yes, on reflection you could be right. The fighting back tears and returning from loo with red puffy eyes was cringe, but the content of what I said was true and measured, even if the delivery was an outburst. I bet we'll get "ground rules" next. Still just caught myself dwelling and heart thumping will distract with the election! Thanks for lovely reply, good to be in the boat together, best of uplifting wishes to you Jul LP :) xxx

LP Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 10:53pm

Hi Jane, yes so often it's the snidy little comments by b___y or completely insensitive uncaring types that get to me too! It's unbelievably hard to hold back. I try to say it, rather than explode it if I can cause no one can blame me for that, but it doesn't always work that way. If I didn't at least say it I might feel like it's going to come out some how at some point! Yes lovely that we are not alone in that boat! LP :) xx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 11:18pm

I hope none of us lose the oars! Keep rowing! Or 'keep swimming' to quote Dory from Finding Nemo xxx

Jul Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 2:30pm

Hi LP. I am so very sorry you had such difficulties yesterday at work. I too had a difficult embarrassing day yesterday writing stuff I regretted afterwards. I was worried it would cause me a sleepless night going over it in my mind but I did what you have successfully done..put the destructive thoughts to one side and tried to bring my mind back to thoughts which are uplifting and positive. I know that it's my over emotional state right now which contributed to the embarrassing outbursts but actually today I think I did the right thing , cringeworthy as it felt at the time. I have had some positive reaction to it which relaxed me and made me feel so much better. I think you too will feel good about yesterday. Courage my friend. Julxx

LP Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 10:53pm

Oh Jul, we must be kindred spirits! Yes, on reflection you could be right. The fighting back tears and returning from loo with red puffy eyes was cringe, but the content of what I said was true and measured, even if the delivery was an outburst. I bet we'll get "ground rules" next. Still just caught myself dwelling and heart thumping will distract with the election! Thanks for lovely reply, good to be in the boat together, best of uplifting wishes to you Jul LP :) xxx

Nicole Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 2:50pm

Thanks Jane SG and to everyone else.


It is hard to keep boundaries generally with demanding people who don't realise they are even being that way.

For me, its my Mum who is the hardest person to create boundaries and and keep them for.. She doesn't know what a boundary is .

My Mum has a particular style of pushing boundaries. Asserting her views over others ,never being wrong and placing unspoken demands and expectations onto me , mainly for company and some chores and admin that she cant do due to dyslexia.

She is 84 now but has always done this particularly with regard to spending time with her . She is still active and well ,and able to go out every day , yet she refuses to do things with others or make friends , she just wants me and my time . I guess its easier to get what she wants from me I guess
I do set boundaries, one new one is by getting off the daily phone far quicker when she is complaining and not accepting any positive encouraging response from me

I also get drained if I spend too much time with her . We had a nice few days away apart from one critical outburst that she had, I dealt with that by going off for a coffee on my own . As she cant stop once she starts. I have felt the need for three days to recover at home and maybe a few more before I am able and willing to see her again :)

I am learning to put my time ,wellbeing and work before her needs , very hard though as i know she wont be around for ever.

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 7:54pm

Dear Nicole, you response resonates with me as I also have demands from elderly parents albeit different ones. My Dad (step-dad) can hardly walk now having waited forever for a knee op. He has been housebound for nearly 2 years. My Mum has dementia/Alzheimer's and therefore is also housebound. They live 2 hours away from me and I try to get there at least one weekend every month. I also pay for their carers. Oh the pressure and guilt. Juggling their needs with my children's with my job, commuting etc etc... I am fortunate that they don't make demands on me but I need to be there. When I get home after I've been on a visit I need 24 hours space to recover. It sounds like you have started to put some boundaries in. It's so important in situations like this to look after yourself. We cannot look after others if we get burnt out. I admire you greatly for managing this difficult situation and the criticisms. Keep going Nicole but look after yourself as much as you can xxx

LP Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 11:00pm

Hi Nicole and Jane, Yep same here. Have demanding mother why I won't accept it any longer and lived with the guilt of upsetting my dad and awkwardness seeing them. Yes, takes a good few days. Xx

The Gardener Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 5:06pm

Oh Nicole, another one, join the club! I got Mr G from respite an hour ago, and am already tearing my hair out - your mother seems a carbon copy of my husband - demanding, egotistical, never made his own friends and wants me under his thumb all the time. I won't go on, I'm an appaling bore on the subject - you HAVE to be strong, somehow, even if you have to be rude - people like your Mum and my husband have incredibly thick skins, and, although claiming to be 'well read' do not know the word 'sensitive'.

Jane SG Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 7:55pm

I really don't know how you manage dear Gardener. I have nothing but admiration for you. Xx

Nicole Fri, Jun 9th 2017 @ 12:01am

Thank you Jane SG,LP and The Gardner ,
It is so true what you all say. Vital to take care of ourselves and not take endless use and sometimes sadly i must say seems to be borderline or just plain abuse. Jane SG, sounds like you have it double hard with two unwell parents ,sorry to hear that.The guilt trips they play LP for me are what induces my guilt until i see it and feel it and then just feel damn angry with her.
Yes they have thick skins and being so direct that is may appear rude, I agree is the only way for those narcissistic types to get it in order that we are not going to almost kill ourselves caring or die as their 'Echo' . Sensitive these demanding types are not ,,are they Gardener.
all very trying and tiring. Onwards with good healthy boundaries we all go .xxx

Jane SG Fri, Jun 9th 2017 @ 7:17am

What a great way to finish this discussion Nicole, ' onwards with good healthy boundaries we all go.' Sending you a big hug xxx

Nicole Mon, Jun 12th 2017 @ 5:11pm

Thank you. xxx sending big hug to you too

Jane SG Mon, Jun 12th 2017 @ 9:09pm

Thank you Nicole! Feeling a bit down tonight so I'm glad I saw this! :) xxx

Sean Wed, Jun 21st 2017 @ 5:05pm

Wow fantastic. I was feeling particularly vulnerable today, and reading many of these have made me feel so much more positve about the future and healing. Thanks everyone.

Jane SG Wed, Jul 5th 2017 @ 10:56pm

Hi Sean, not sure if you will see this now. I've just picked this up as I was looking back at the comments. Really glad they helped you to feel more positive

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