Our guest blogger this week is Elisabeth Davies. Elisabeth is a professional counselor and coach, from Arizona. She believes in helping clients become skilled in overcoming their obstacles, so they can live emotionally healthy lives. In 2008, she began writing a self-help series called “Good Things Emotional Healing Journals” with the goal to offer effective strategies and resources that empower people to live an emotionally healthy lifestyle.
Do you ever tell yourself you’re going to stop a bad habit or start doing something new that will improve your life, then within a short period of time you realize you have been unsuccessful at maintaining your goal? Well join the club! Why is it so difficult to maintain changes that we really desire to make? Well sure it’s work and it takes commitment, perseverance and self-discipline, but there may be something else you have not factored in that significantly influences our ability to maintain desired changes; internal boundaries.
An internal boundary is a limit we set with our self, regarding our own rules. What we think is right or wrong. What we allow or don’t allow regarding our personal thoughts, words and behaviors. If we set limits for our self and do not follow through with them consistently, it is an indication that our internal boundaries are damaged.
Some examples of damaged boundaries are:
- Failing to keep the promises we make to our self about limiting our intake of food, alcohol or drugs.
- Failing to follow through with the goals we set for our self.
- Failing to keep the promises we make to others, regarding our behavior.
- Continued choices that are causing negative consequences to our health, personal relationships or finances.
Damaged internal boundaries can come from being raised in an environment where we were not treated with value, and our boundaries were not respected. If our parents or caretakers abused us verbally, physically, sexually, spiritually, or neglected us and did not honor our boundaries, we will have difficulty honoring our boundaries.
Some examples of our boundaries not being honored include:
- Saying, ‘Don’t hit me’ and the hitting continued (physical abuse).
- Saying ‘Stop yelling at me’ or ‘don’t call me that’ and the yelling and name calling continued (verbal abuse).
- Saying ‘’I don’t like it when you touch me there’ or ‘I don’t want to do that’ and the inappropriate touching and sexual misconduct continued (sexual abuse).
- Our parents or caretakers making promises to be there for us and not following through with their promises (neglect).
If our words and needs were frequently dishonored, then our boundaries become damaged. The great news is internal boundaries can be reestablished, by forgiving and healing our past and relearning how to respect and unconditionally love our self. It is important if we are healing past abuse or neglect to know that the people who have disrespected our boundaries do NOT define our value as a human being. We are born valuable. Our value is inherent. Recognizing the things we naturally do well can remind us of our value. Forgiving people who have abused or neglected us is key to healing our past. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened, it is releasing all hurt, pain and resentment from what happened, so that our negative emotions caused by the abuse become ‘neutral.’ Forgiveness moves us from remaining a victim to our past to being powerful co-creators of our future!
Here is an effective forgiveness exercise: Each time your mind recalls a memory where you are being abused or devalued as a human being, say to that memory,
‘I unconditionally forgive _____________________ (person, perpetrator) for saying or doing ________________________ (act that was committed against you).’
Repeat this forgiveness exercise, each time you have an abuse or neglect memory. When your mind responds to hurt with unconditionally forgiveness, it will release the hurt. When you can recall the memory, and there is no longer negative emotion attached to it, you have healed that experience!
Strengthening our internal boundary is something that takes consistent work. When we catch our self participating with a behavior or choice that we told ourselves we would no longer do, it lets us know we still have unhealed parts in our self which we need to love, forgive, and accept, rather than look for something outside of our self to medicate or distract us from our inner mental hurt.
Here is an effective exercise to strengthen our internal boundary:
Each day take five to fifteen minutes and go sit somewhere that is quiet, with no distractions. Close your eyes. Take in several slow deep breaths. As you breathe in, say in your mind’ breathing in peace and calm.’ As you exhale, say in your mind, ‘breathing out all negativity and stress in my being.’ Then for the next couple of minutes, let your body breathe all on its own, without any assistance from you.
I call this ‘sleep breathing,’ because this is how our body breathes for us when we are asleep. This type of breathing allows our thoughts to become less dominant and creates mind, body, spirit balancing and wellbeing. Allow your imagination to come out and visualize yourself saying ‘No’ to the behavior or choice you no longer want to participate with. It is your imagination, so feel free to bring in characters, props, or anything that strengthens your ability to steady yourself in the choice that is for your highest good. Release everything in your being that is blocking you from making choices that are for your highest good, by breathing out old beliefs, thoughts, or maladapted programming.
Do these exercises many times, to reinforce new thoughts, beliefs and behavior patterns that strengthen your internal boundary with your unwanted habit or choice. Open your eyes breathe out and steady yourself in the right choice.
Hold the visualization of yourself with a strong internal boundary and use it each time you are tempted, or exposed to a choice that is not for your highest good. We are healable. We are reprogrammable and we can make choices that are for our highest good.
This is a guest blog written by Elisabeth Davies, MC
Elisabeth Davies is a professional counselor and coach, helping clients become skilled in overcoming their obstacles, so they can live emotionally healthy lives. In 2008, she began writing a self-help series called “Good Things Emotional Healing Journals” with the goal to offer effective strategies and resources that empower people to live an emotionally healthy lifestyle.
These workbooks offer effective strategies, motivational interviewing questions and progress inventories, which reinforce emotionally healthy living. Elisabeth’s first published book, GOOD THINGS EMOTIONAL HEALING JOURNAL-ADDICTION, offers effective strategies to manage unwanted habits and compulsive behaviors. It is currently available on her websites: www.BrightAlternatives.com and www.GoodThingsEmotionalHealing.com, Amazon & Barnes & Noble.
You can email Elisabeth at: email@example.com