Giving & Taking: When to Draw Boundaries Around How Much of Ourselves We Feel We Need to Give

Knowing how to draw boundaries around how much of ourselves we feel we need to be giving is a loaded topic for many. This was one of the chief concerns in my family growing up and something that, thanks to the help of my therapist, I recently got a much needed new perspective on. In this post, I’ll be going into the different aspects of giving and receiving in relationship, especially with those who are closest to us, and how giving too much of ourselves can put a strain on all of our relationships. Also, I’ll be adding a few tips at the end to help forge some new boundaries. Hopefully, we can break some of our old patterns and start a new.

Guilt & Feeling a Burden for Simply Being

In my family, doing for others was something that brought up a lot of resentment. It seemed that anytime something was needed of another, there was usually an accompanying, cutting comment that came with the chore. Regardless of how small the task, or if it was even difficult, whomever was asking was made to feel a burden to the other. It was second nature to us. It was our way of acknowledging that the other had a need or needed support.

But what made this so insidious was, that these comments started immediately upon entry into our family. Imagine being 5 years old and hearing the resentment in your parent’s voice as they responded to you after you asking them for something as simple as a snack. I was barely old enough to open the fridge, let alone make something to eat for myself! But whatever the request was, the reactions were the same. The roll of the eyes and incredulously, indignant sigh while they begrudgingly lifted themselves up to attend to whatever task was being asked of them.

The term martyr was used liberally around our household to describe someone who thought they were doing too much. Usually said with venom. As if to say, “you think you’re doing a lot! Take a stroll in my shoes!” And most of the time, the “martyr” was only setting a boundary around what they were willing to do. Even as I’m typing this post, I felt guilty about typing the words “willing to do”, in stead of, capable of doing. Because in our family, if you were able to do what was asked, it was expected of you to do what was asked. Your will didn’t even enter the equation. And this mentality, breeds resentment around something as simple and possibly joy inducing as giving. So why were we so venomous towards one another? If all we wanted was to feel accepted and loved? Because our self worth hinged on how much we were doing for one another.

Self Worth & Value

In my family, we definitely had a lack of self esteem. We were always so uncertain of how we stood in each others regard. We seldom received positive feedback or reinforcement, so we were usually looking to gain some social capital in the family. One of the ways we did this was by doing things for one another. However, we were all so self-conscious about how we were perceived by the other. And with no one being brave enough to tip our hands, to show our true feelings, that even when we did something from a sincere place, we wouldn’t know because we were always so guarded.

With all of this uncertainty, it’s no wonder why we were so resentful of each other! We inevitably drifted further and further apart from the thousand tiny wounds we inflicted on one another. Our surroundings grew cold and void of affection, with fear and resentment residing in their stead. As Melba would say, it was “no easy”.

What is most difficult about how we ended up, is that we were once close. I can remember large family gatherings where children, me being among them, would run wild while the family humming in the background preparing meals and watching games. It was nice, comforting. We felt connected and vital. And all it took to rent our family apart was to hide our emotions from one another in an attempt to feel more needed and loved by the other. All because we didn’t feel we had self worth apart from somebody else’s opinion of us. Or what we were capable of doing for them. That and a fair amount of shared family trauma. So if we were so hurt by one another and all we wanted was to feel appreciated, why did we not just say what we needed from each other? Why hold our feelings so close in? I believe this was for fear of being seen as weak.

Fear of Exposing Our Weaknesses

It blows my mind to think how unforgiving we were in my family. To think about how we viewed our vulnerabilities as weaknesses to be routed out makes me wince a little. And in our family, giving was seen as a strength. But only because we made it known how much of a burden we were taking on by giving ourselves so “selflessly” for the other’s benefit. This was how we turned asking for help, into a weakness. Something to be ashamed of. Or, at least that’s how I felt.

And of course, this is something that is perpetuated in the culture. With role-models such as Rambo, The Terminator, Taylor Durden, John Wayne… the list goes on. But with role-models like these, it’s hard to escape the message that strength is the absence of vulnerability. However misguided that message is.

And just because we pretended that we don’t have our vulnerabilities, doesn’t mean that they are not there. But we pretended and covered them over whenever they would inevitably show themselves. And for what? To cover up the fact that we felt flawed because we didn’t feel accepted or acceptable. By ourselves or by the other. So how do we break this cycle? How do we find the strength that isn’t based in how much of a burden we can take on by giving ourselves to the point of emotional burnout? I think some of the answer lay in how we take care of ourselves.

Learning to Give & Set Boundaries Around how Much We are Giving After Not Knowing How to Give

Setting boundaries around what we’re willing to give is tricky business. Saying no to a task or a need is tough enough when you truly want to be helpful. Add guilt or feeling like your worth hinges on whether or not you say okay and it’s paralyzing. I used to be in the camp of not doing anything for anybody. Of course, I could barely take care of my own needs, let alone help someone with theirs. But I was also taught this sort of, lived helplessness by those who were constantly doing for me.

So it was a double edged sword. I didn’t know how to do for myself due to those who were taking care of me never showing me how. Maybe they did this for fear of feeling less valuable if I was independent. Though when I asked for something, a need to be met, they made me feel as though I was a burden for asking. So when I struck out on my on, I had no life skills or self esteem from feeling like a burden for so long. I didn’t even know how to ask for the help I needed, for the life skills I didn’t know I didn’t have. It was a difficult first few years for sure.

I don’t like to think how long I floated along in life before I realized I was lacking these essential skills. But regardless, I came to a place where I now understand and appreciate giving and what others give to me. But, like with all of the other areas in my life, I needed to set some boundaries around what I gave.

When is it too Much?

When I woke from the trance I had been under, things began to change rapidly for me. For the first time in my life, I understood and appreciated the sacrifice that those supporting me were making on my behalf. It felt good, knowing that I have this support, but also as though I needed to express my gratitude more often. And for me, acts of service is one of my main love languages. So giving for me can quickly turn into spreading myself too thin.

I need to keep an eye on how much of my time I’m giving, so I don’t over commit myself. Because this will lead to me burning out. I mainly do this by keeping a to-do list in my bullet journal, with a calendar for the next three weeks opposite my list. This way, I can allocate tasks to days on my calendar and check in on my progress.

Also, I need to keep an eye on whether the other person even wants what I’m offering or doing for them. I’ve often times found myself thinking that I’m “helping” someone with a great idea I’ve had, only to realize that they were just fine with the way things were. This is an embarrassing situation to find yourself in, so it’s best to read the room before you jump in!

Have a Conversation

This seems like a no brainer, but talking to those who are closest to you is what’s most helpful in finding out what they need. It’s also a way for you to set the tone of the relationship. As a child, I was sent the message that communication in all its forms, especially around my needs, was dangerous. Dangerous in that simply asking for something, however small, threatened my very belonging to those who cared for me.

But by asking those who you are close with what they need or what you can do to make life easier for them, you’re sending the message that, as a friend of mine used to say, “I’m here, I care.” And something so simple as having the coffee ready for your partner in the mornings because they told you they don’t feel as though they have enough time in the mornings, sets the tone for a more stress free environment. It’s these small gestures, done with love that cultivates feelings of acceptance and appreciation.

And talking about our needs also brings with it feeling heard. Something that is in short supply from my experience. I know this to be true for me, that sometimes I feel so focused on my goals, or the task in front of me, that I forget that one of the simplest gifts we can be giving one another is our time and attention. To really listen to what someone is telling us and respond in authentic and caring ways. Never underestimate the power of feeling heard and seen.

Healthy Give & Take

With the holidays around the corner, there’s no better time to jump in and practice setting some boundaries around what we’re capable of giving to each other. If you’re anything like me, you like to go all out in the gift giving department. Maybe this year, take a step back. Take a look at what you’ve done in the past and how it’s made you feel. Do you dread the holidays? Does it feel as though you’re the one who who is consistently giving directions and planning events? Maybe do some more delegating this year. Take a look at you’re budget and try to stick to it better when purchasing gifts.

And while you’re reigning in your spending and the time you’re spending on various projects, don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Treat yourself to a bath during the week. Or a special meal. Something that will bring you sense of ease and peace. Because there’s no point in fostering a healthy and happy relationship, if you’re making yourself miserable in the process. Peace : ) & thanks for reading.

Image Credits: “Give, take ‘n share” by Funchye is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Moving Past The Past and Into Forgiveness

Moving past the past and into forgiveness. I’ve spoken a lot about the situations and circumstances of my past on this blog. But what I’ve come to realize is, that for all the work I’ve done on coming to terms with what happened in the past, I haven’t really forgiven the major players in the story of what has happened to me. I suppose I needed the time to understand how their actions effected me. But what I’m coming to realize is, that the more I focus on what has happened, the more I stay trapped in my past feelings and patterns .

So with this in mind, I’d like to move past the past and look towards the future, by forgiving those involved in my past story. I want to start by taking a look at the circumstances of my past, those involved and try to use what I’ve been practicing in this blog and extend a little forgiveness to those who’ve wronged me. So let’s see if we can’t move past these road blocks that’ve been holding me back and I imagine others in my situation as well : )

Respecting What Has Happened, Not Forgetting It

For me, forgiveness wasn’t something that was taught, well ever really. I can’t recall one instance in my family where a person admitted that they were wrong. Let alone us forgiving someone for doing something hurtful. This sent me the message that, admitting you’re wrong, as well as apologizing to and forgiving others, is a sign of weakness. And in my family, we used mistakes against one another to feel superior, by making the person who erred look foolish and feel small.

So it was in this environment that I learned to navigate the landmine filled maze of my family members emotional spaces. It was confusing. I was constantly being hit with verbal shrapnel, exploding from one of my family members mouths, all the while nursing one wound or another aimed to maim. And I learned to use the same tactics they were employing, to protect myself from what they were doing to me. It was a frightening environment to grow up in to say the least.

But Dragging Your Past With You Will Weigh You Down

So it was with these lessons that I forged a future for myself. Using the same tools I had learned to use to survive my family in my youth. But this lead to an unhealthy way of living. I couldn’t let my guard down for long enough to build trust with anyone in order to form lasting, healthy relationships. And those that I did call my friends, didn’t stick around when things got difficult. Because we were all using the same lessons to hold our relationships together, there wasn’t much of a substantial connection between us to begin with.

And those bonds we thought we had with one another, were really chains keeping us connected to our past ways of staying “connected”, though not necessarily with each other. We were constantly demeaning one another to look and feel superior while drinking, with the occasional drug use thrown in for some added avoidance of how we were being hurtful to one another.

What we were really doing was avoiding the tender parts of our relationships. The parts where we may have felt insecure about how we looked to each other. Or whether or not we felt a sense of belonging and basic support at all. God knows that we didn’t get it from our families. So we were left on our own to sort out how to feel a part of something larger while being held down by the chains of our past.

So The Past Was Difficult, How Do We Move Past It and Into Forgiveness?

This was/is the tricky part for me. Getting through the feelings of, “I should have gotten what I needed from those raising me”, wasn’t easy. Looking back at what I experienced and where I am now, there was a lot to process, but also a lot to be grateful for. And that’s definitely a great place to start. In realizing that it wasn’t all bad.

Moving Past the Negative Experiences to Look Toward the Positive Ones

I’ve been lucky enough to have had some unique and wonderful experiences along with the difficult ones. I find that when you’re in the middle of remembering the difficult past, it’s hard to see those that were involved as anything but a bad person, or some sort of monster. And there are some monstrous deeds that sometimes are too difficult to process on our own, for sure. But that doesn’t mean that we should allow those deeds to dictate how we live out the rest of our lives.

Or to make wise choices on who we allow to be a part of our future experiences. But it’s important to recognize that there will be good times again, and that if we set some boundaries and choose carefully who we allow access into our lives, we can look forward to happy and fulfilling times : )

Boundary Setting

An example from my life, in trying to rebuild some of the past connections with those who’ve hurt me is, that I’ve been making a habit of trying to stay in touch via text or group chat more frequently. This may seem like a small step and something that most of us do on the daily anyways. But for me and my family, we seldom talk to one another. And when we do, we use words as our preferred weapon, to keep the other at arms length.

This was something I hadn’t realized how bad it had been until only a few years ago. I had asked a family member to meet me at a local whole foods, so we could get lunch and catch up on what was happening in our lives. They agreed and we met in the café area on a day we both had free. We were a little nervous at first, having not seen each other in a long time. But things started out fairly normal.

We asked one another about how things were going, what we’d been up too and how other family members were doing. It all seemed to be going fairly well until they started belittling and making fun of me in the same judgmental fashion that we would poke and prod one another in the past. This was most likely to see where my boundaries were and what they could get away with. It left me feeling confused, a little hurt and sad that we weren’t able to meet without trying to wound the other.

This was something that we used to do, especially when we would drink together. We would be a few drinks in when inevitably the anger that had been seething just beneath the surface, of all the years of neglect and abuse, would come spewing out of our mouths in the form of resentments, judgements and insults, aimed to tear the other person down. And nobody was safe once we got going.

I’m not sure how we got to this place, of feeling that it was okay to be so free with our resentments towards one another in the cruelest ways we could muster. But we had been practicing that way of being for a long time. Now, for me and my safety, I’m choosing how much of the conversation I’m allowing into my life by being a part of it, though only on my terms.

I text on a semi-frequent basis, but also know that I’m able to put down the conversation if it takes a turn for the abusive. Now that I am no longer practicing that type of connection, I see how corrosive that type of resentment can be in relationships. I’m choosing to keep myself safe by setting the boundaries of being able to pick up and put down the conversation on my own terms.

There will be times in the future where I’ll be more flexible in how someone wants to direct the conversation, for sure. But until we can prove that we’re going to treat each other with respect first and foremost, I feel good about taking care of myself in this way. Respecting myself by respecting my boundaries. For more on setting healthy boundaries, this article written by John Amodeo on “Psychology Today” does a beautiful job of explaining what boundaries look like and how to maintain them. Good read, highly recommended.

When To Relax Your Boundaries

While forging these new relationships, it’s important to remember that the end goal is to have a mutually respectful, but also enjoyable experience with one another. This is unlikely to happen if our boundaries are turned all the way up to ten on the dial. Though this maybe necessary when you’re first forging these bonds as I am.

So if you’re rebuilding these bonds, go slow. Give it some time to see how the other person responds. A few questions to ask yourself while you are trying to create new connections may be; are they listening to me when I ask them to change or stop the direction of the conversation? Are some old patterns of connection resurfacing and are you both able to recognize them without getting wrapped up in them? Does the other person acknowledge that the old ways of connecting are unhealthy and do they want something different?

These can be difficult areas to explore, but if the answer is yes to these question, then after a little bit of time and practice, maybe you can begin to relax some of these boundaries and feel a little more free and open in the relationship. Maybe allowing a playful gest into the fold without taking it as insult. These interactions will hopefully come more and more naturally to those in a relationship that is mutually respectful. Then you may be able to enjoy each others company without feeling so guarded. Or as though you have to protect yourself and your emotions.

Relaxing Our Judgements

Judgements aren’t all bad. We make judgement calls all the time that effect our day to days regularly. I think where we get hung up on being judgmental is, when we substitute another’s negative judgement of our character as the truth of who we are. This was something that we did on a consistent basis in my family.

One of the ways we tried to control each other was through our constant and cutting judgements of one another. However, this only leads to resentment, which is corrosive to relationship building. So how do we take care of ourselves in the face of other’s critical judgements of us? Well I think it starts with us feeling solid in ourselves and our belonging, while setting aside the harsh judgements we’ve dispensed in the past.

I jumped on the judgement train at first to keep myself safe. I was being judged so often and feeling subsequently so small for it, while simultaneously watching my judgers hold a smug and superior air about them, that I felt the only way to get some power back was through judging others in the ways I was being judged. This, however, did not work as planned.

My judgements lead me to feel judged in my relationships. And in my experience, this type of judgement leads to resentment. But now that I recognize how I was feeling while I was being judged, and why I chose to pick up that tool and use it as a way to keep myself safe, I can now understand and recognize that what was really happening with those who were critically judging me was actually a deep sense of them not feeling belonging in our relationship.

For example, if a family member chose to make fun of me for my weight, say they called me a human garbage disposal as they often would. My caregiver was often made fun of for their weight growing up as well. And it’s then I’m able to see that they were insecure about their weight and how they were treated because of it. In a way, they were trying to shame me into making a positive change, however backward their attempt may have been. So now that I see where they are coming from, it’s easier to be more forgiving of their ridicule. Seeing how it stemmed from them feeling a lack of belonging.

Finding Belonging Through Forgiveness by Giving Up The Ghosts of Our Pasts

And for the most part, that’s what it really comes down to. Finding a sense of belonging. In a strange way, we were just trying to belong to one another. Through all the harsh judgements, the resentment and anger, we just wanted to feel like somebody wanted to be around us. That we were worth being around. And this is why I’m choosing to forgive those who’ve hurt me in the past.

I know that they want to belong just as badly as I want to belong. And nobody is going to feel like they belong if we keep holding our acceptance of one another just out of reach while we’re trying to buy ourselves some time to find a way to feel loved and belonging. And we know that we can’t live up to some of the impossible standards we’ve set for others. The ones we use to pretend that we are better than others because, by virtue of having that standard, we are better than the other just for having it.

Instead, I’m choosing to accept that I’m not perfect and that nobody is. So why hold it over somebody else’s head as prerequisite for belonging? For me, it’s just not worth it. So if you’ve found yourself in a place where you’ve been reliving some of the patterns of your past, know that you have it in you to move past it. Be a new you, forge a new path. As Rumi said, “be melting snow, wash yourself of yourself”. Wash yourself of the bonds holding you to the past and let your past, be in the past. You’ve got your life to live, go and live it. Peace : ) and thanks for reading.

Image Credits: “Forgiveness” by Neshika Bell is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Knowing When to Walk Away: What to do When Your Boundaries are Being Violated

This is a difficult topic, especially for those who have little understanding of what boundaries are. This is a place I know well. And time after time, I would find myself in situations where I, or somebody else, was taking advantage of somebody’s boundaries. If you’ve read my last post on “Do I Know What My Boundaries Are?“, you’ll know I’ve been steeped in an environment void of boundaries.

This post and my last post, were inspired by a place I was recently employed with. The ways in which the employer has been treating his employees is something that, well, inspired this post on self-care in regards to personal boundaries. In this post, I’ll be going over some red flags to look for if you feel your boundaries are being taken advantage of. Also I’ll be talking about what you can do if your boundaries are being encroached upon. I’ll be focusing mostly on the workplace. But these examples can be applied to other contexts as well. So let’s jump in with what to look for.

Red Flags

If you’re not used to being in relationships with healthy boundaries, it can be tricky to see the red flags that pop up when they’re being violated. That said, some are fairly obvious. However, it can be insidious in how subtly some take advantage of others’ boundaries. Some examples of red flags are, emotional blackmail, criticism without constructive feedback, being unwilling to give clear and concise direction while communicating needs and using misinformation to misdirect from the issues that are in question. These tactics aren’t new. But they make for unhealthy relationships and boundary violations. So let’s start by taking a look at emotional blackmail.

Emotional Blackmail

Let me start out by saying that lying, in and of itself, is a clear indication that your boundaries are being taken advantage of. If you, or somebody you work with or for, is in the habit of lying, then attention needs to be given as to why it’s happening. This happened to me most recently at a job I left not too long ago.

I was talked to by the owner of a small bakery I worked in and written up for not mixing the starter on the scheduled time. I had brought this issue to the owners attention. My concern was for the quality of the product, so I was willing to take full responsibility for my mistakes. But where the violation of boundaries took place was, the owner said he was writing me up for the second time I had forgotten to do this task. I don’t remember the first incident and when I asked for the date of the original infraction, he was unable to remember the time.

He was unable to give me any detail as to when the first time it happened was. Though made reference to my mistake often after he claimed I had. He said that I had made more mistakes without documentation and was using it to make me feel that I should be worried for my job security. These are the mechanics of how emotional blackmail works. His goal in lying to me was, to make me feel as though I was on thin ice in regards to my job security. By making reference to it often, he was attempting to capitalize on my feeling as though I’m not worthy of my job title. Or that I should feel lucky to have the job.

Asides from this being a stressful environment to work in, it also is a way to manipulate those who work for you. In order to make you feel as though you are worth less than you actually are. The result? This environment may lead to people working harder, to feel as though they have to make up for feeling deficient. Or in not asking for pay increases for inflation. Or for increased responsibilities. But also, and maybe most importantly, it also leads to resentment.

Resentment in the Work Place

What made this so uncomfortable was, everybody I worked with had something bad to say about the owner. There were an awful lot of hurt and abused feelings among his employees. Nobody was happy where they were and everybody made it plainly clear how they felt. Yet, nobody would sit down and have the tough conversations around why they felt the ways they did. I attempted to, but was met with arrogance. Actually, much in the same ways I used to be when I was younger. It wasn’t unfamiliar, but that didn’t make it any less difficult to bear.

In these situations and from my experience, it’s best to take the high road. Ask a lot of clarifying questions and try not to lose focus on what is at the heart of the situation. In my case, I wasn’t a bad person for making the mistake. It was only a mistake. The mistake, which at worst was an inconvenience. Because in a bakery, you always have a backup starter for this reason. Also, keep focus on the present and leave the past in the past. Unless it is a string of related events. And most importantly, don’t let someone else attempt to define you by the mistakes you’ve made. We’re all only human. And humans make mistakes.

Criticism Without Constructive Feedback

This is difficult for a lot of people. And rightly so. Without constructive feedback, criticism, especially if given often, is just another way to bully someone. It also creates an unclear or unachievable standard. This was also the case with my last employer. The owner was constantly finding fault with the tasks that were being done. And he was very vocal about his opinion.

An example being, there was one woman who had been baking for him for the better part of two decades. Before she worked there, she owned her own bakery in Viet Nam. She was a good baker, actually one of the best bakers I’ve known. And she did her job well. But regardless of her baking prowess, the owner would often criticize her by calling her the “queen of steam”. If you you’re not familiar, you use steam in the baking process by injecting the oven with water to create steam, right before you put the loaves in to bake. The steam gives the crust a shiny look to it, while the crust develops. So the owner was constantly implying that she was too heavy on the steam.

Later when he criticized my bake, I asked him some clarifying questions around what the standard should look like. He gave reference to the woman’s bake I mentioned above. Saying it should look, just like hers. This was confusing. Because the most common comment I heard from him about her bakes, was how they weren’t good enough. Too much steam. So I was left with no direction on what he wanted from me and the feeling of not doing an adequate job. Regardless of how good my bakes looked. And everybody that baked there, was an excellent baker. Including myself. So there was no clear standard of what he expected from us. Only criticism.

Lack of Clear, Concise Direction

This was at the root of a lot of the miscommunication and confusion. Not only with my last place of employment, but many places have communication issues. Information that is important for employees to do their jobs, is sometimes not provided in a timely manner. In these situations, I find it best to pursuing the information. For example, in my last place of employment there was no established line of communication from what the owner wanted, to what was expected of us.

This left us in the uncertain place of not knowing whether or not we were doing right by his vision of what he wanted from us. Or if we were meeting his expectations. We were left in an uncertain purgatory. This led the employees to distrust those in charge. Because without clearly communicating needs, those who need to know are left feeling unsupported. An example of this type of miscommunication was, there would be changes made to the bake last minute. And if the changes weren’t reflected in the bake, do to the changes not being communicated in a timely manner, than the employees would be reprimanded for not implementing the changes.

These unreasonable expectation and lack of support led directly to feelings of resentment on the parts of his employees. There was a high rate of turnover and there was a steady rotation of managers before I took the position. The lack of communication directly led to a lack of feeling supported, which in turn impacted the turnover rate of the owner’s employees. Not to mention the amount of hurt emotions along the way. All of which could have been avoided if there had been clear direction and support.

So the lack of clear communication is an indicator that your boundaries are being infringed on to some degree. It’s best to address these issues when they arise, as well as to set reasonable expectations for what is expected of you from my experience. This way, you’re not left wondering what you’re supposed to be doing. Or feeling unsupported.

Misinformation and Misdirection

This can be an especially difficult boundary violation to navigate. While I was at my last place of employment, as I’ve said above, I was written up for forgetting the starters and then mislead about forgetting it for the second time. In the same write up for mixing the starters late, it was also mentioned that my bakes didn’t meet their standard.

This came as a surprise. I had no prior warning about the quality of my bakes. No one had ever brought this to my attention. There were also only two supervisors present while I was being spoken with, but there were three supervisors on my write-up. One of which I wasn’t aware was my supervisor.

All of these extra additions, to what was a matter of mixing a starter late, had the effect of misdirecting focus from what the actual issue was. I was being written up for mixing the starter late, which turned into being spoken to by three supervisors, as well as the quality of my performance. This is a good example of misdirecting from what the issue is and an encroachment of boundaries.

Ideally, these should have been brought to my attention in separate conversations, as they arose. So when we discuss the matter, it wouldn’t be a surprise. The experience left me uncertain as to what was expected of me. But also wondering, if it was that important, why was it only now being brought to my attention? Especially since I, like most people I believe, want to do the best job they’re able to.

Using fear and misdirection to manipulate a person to work harder because they fear for their job security, leads to feelings of resentment and confusion. Resentment for the feeling of being in an environment where it’s unacceptable to make mistakes. And confusion because the standards are constantly changing. There was no clear way to discuss what the issues actually were. And another example of boundaries being violated. Anytime there are unclear expectations and you are being told that you are not achieving them, this is a violation of boundaries.

What Can We do About It?

With all of these abuses of boundaries taking place, it may be difficult to know what to do or how to act. With your attention being pulled in so many different directions, it can be difficult to know first, how you feel about it while it’s happening. Secondly what you can do about it. For me, it helped to take it slowly. As I said above, I asked a lot of clarifying questions. I gave them the benefit of my doubt and made sure to follow up with those who were the decision makers. I also gave support to those I was able to, who were looking for direction. Some of the following suggestions are easier to do than others, but with some perseverance, it can be done.

Clarifying Questions

As I said above, asking clarifying questions goes a long way into finding out what specific expectations are being asked of you. The more specific, direct and often your questions and communications, the less likely it will be that there are grey areas. Or feelings of uncertainty.

This may be difficult for a few reasons. First, if your supervisor is being evasive, than it can be tough to get a clear and direct answer from them. Second, if you’re shy or don’t like making waves, than asking questions can make you feel as though you are being a burden on those you need clarifying from. And nobody wants to burden the boss.

But this is where it is so important to be persistent. Asking the right questions and knowing precisely what’s expected of you will only help to improve things for everybody. It will also make you stronger in the end. So try to calm your fears and advocate for yourself. Who knows, maybe you’ll receive the guidance you need.

Give the Benefit of the Doubt

This one can be difficult. Mostly because it involves a lot of trust where trust may have been abused. But going into a situation thinking you are going to be taken advantage of, leads to being guarded and unreceptive to change. And the situation may be that the person who is showing the red flags, may be under a fair amount of stress. Life happens. And it’s best to be able to help out those who need it. Instead of being quick to judge them as being neglectful or malicious in their actions.

I’ve also found that it helps to stay positive in these situations. Bringing an attitude of resentment to the issue won’t help to resolve the issue. It also takes a toll on your own well being. And in situations where your boundaries may be being violated, it’s important to take care of your needs and well being.

Following Up

Following up with your concerns and questions are important aspects of getting your needs met. Especially if the issue has been avoided. This shows that you are invested in finding a resolution. But also as important, sending the message that you are going to advocate for yourself and your teams needs.

This also helps to keep those who are in charge accountable. This way, you’re taking care of your own needs by respecting yourself by advocating for your needs, while also sending the message that your needs deserve respect and acknowledgement.

Giving Support

This one is important. Giving Support to those you are able to helps to provide a sense of working to achieve a shared goal. Teamwork. This is especially important when there isn’t support coming from the person in charge of making their vision a reality. As I’ve said above, a lack of support can lead to resentment. And if we don’t support those we work with, we end up resenting one another. In this case, nobody feels supported. And if we can take care of each other along the way, it helps to make everyone feel a little better.

Conclusion

It’s not easy, but if you’ve found yourself in a situation where your boundaries are being violated, these steps may help you to navigate them with some confidence. And if you do everything you’re able to, for example finding appropriate help for mediation, and you still find that you are being taken advantage of, your best bet may be too leave the situation entirely. But give it some serious thought and try not to let your emotions rule your actions.

My motto in my teen and early twenties was, “bridges are for burning”. This was due to feeling hurt by those closest to me. But it was an attitude that left me alone and without any support. Just because someone has taken advantage of you, doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person. Who knows what their history holds. If it is anything like mine and they’ve been hurt in the past, I can relate. But also be open to the idea that people can change. This helps to soften the blow of your boundaries being violated.

That doesn’t mean that you should allow them to be violated, but to take care of your needs by maybe walking away from the situation. And try not to hold anger or resentment towards those who hurt you, while you’re taking care of yourself. If you’re looking for some more information on healthy boundaries, this article from positive psychology goes into more detail with exercises to help build and maintain healthy boundaries. I hope this has helped in some way. As always, peace : ) & thanks for reading.

Image Credits: Walking Away by Matt Henry photos is licensed under

Updated: 10/27/22

      CC BY 2.0

Do I Know What My Boundaries Are? How to Tell if You’re Boundaries Need Shoring Up

Boundaries are another area I spend a lot of time on in this blog. Reason being, if you were raised in an environment where your boundaries were constantly being violated as I have, then it can be difficult to know what is and is not acceptable in regards to boundaries. I didn’t even know what a boundary was! And even worse, I confused a lack of boundaries for affection in some cases. This was not ideal.

What are My Boundaries

Luckily, I’ve learned a lot about what healthy boundaries are and what they are not. But it took a lot of putting myself in some pretty shady situations. Lessons that I could have probably learned in a much healthier fashion. In this post I’ll be talking about how to establish your boundaries and also how to tell when they’re being encroached on. These are difficult waters to navigate when you have no bearings in the way of role models. But there are ways of finding your bearings. It’s not impossible, but it can be difficult. And in difficult times I like to remember the phrase, “we were built for this”. Let’s find some healthy boundaries together. : )

Where Are My Boundaries?

As I said above, boundaries can be tricky to establish. If you’ve been immersed in an environment where a lack of boundaries was the norm, than knowing where yours end and another’s begins isn’t clear. Or maybe your boundaries were too rigid, too defined. This can be just as frustrating as having no boundaries. Either way, if you’ve been left in one of these boats, you’re gonna need to find another vessel. Luckily there are places to find out what a healthy mix of boundaries looks like. Let’s take a look at being raised with no boundaries first. These can be, I feel, the most confusing.

No Boundaries

Being raised with no boundaries can be very confusing when trying to navigate your young, chaotic world. For me, no boundaries meant being mean to others with callous disregard for their emotions. Eating anything and everything I felt like when I felt like it. Picking up vices like smoking and drinking at an early age (14) and using them to excess. Also using others and confusing a lack of boundaries for affection.

Living without boundaries was due to a lack of healthy role models showing me appropriate boundaries. I was mostly looking to feel loved by my neglectful caregivers, by acting the ways that I watched them behave. My caregivers were mean and rancorous. So I was mean spirited and rancorous. It’s what I thought it meant to be grown up, mature. Later, when I realized that my role models were acting like Jim Morrison, I knew I had been mislead.

Trying to Fit in by Copying What was Shown to Me

Being raised with no boundaries came with a feeling of desperation because of the lack of connection I felt. My thoughts were consumed with what I could do to feel a sense of love and belonging. I thought I could feel connected by doing the things that my family was doing. But these things were clearly disregarding my best interests.

For example I stopped going to school at around age 15 and was drinking quite a bit as well. Also in my teen years, I never exercised and my diet wasn’t stellar either. And I did this all because I was looking for some way to belong. To anything that would give me a sense of comfort and security. Who at the time were my family and the people I was friends with who resembled my family. Not realizing all the while how far I was straying from the ways I could have cultivated, to create a sense of security and comfort for myself.

Confusing a Lack of Boundaries for Affection

And the worst part of having no boundaries was, I confused a lack of boundaries for affection. I assumed that any chance for contact was good because I was so desperate for it. This was because I didn’t have a tight bond with my caregivers. I figured, if I let them do whatever they wanted to me, the greater chance I would have of being loved by them. For me that meant they could say whatever they wanted to me. Or go through my personal belongings whenever they felt. Invade my personal space on a whim and treat me as though I weren’t a person with basic needs and rights.

However, this set me up for my relationships with the women to fail. I would often times feel as though I were never enough. As though I needed someone to treat me poorly in a relationship, because I felt I wasn’t worthy enough to be in a healthy one. This left me feeling uneasy in my relationships. Also, lucky that a woman would even consider being with me. This perpetuated the cycles of poor boundaries and low self esteem. So I acted in arrogant ways to cover over my feelings of inadequacy.

Result? Burnt Bridges

The end result was a lot of burned bridges and a staggering amount of unhealthy habits. I had no career prospects. I had ended the most stable relationship I had been in for eight years, almost on a whim. And I had no idea what my future was going to hold or felt like I had the ability to change it. For all intents and purposes, I was one unfortunate event away from being homeless. Completely without resources. I had made a life’s time worth of poor decisions and many of them could be traced back to being raised with no boundaries or very rigid boundaries.

Rigid Boundaries

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, my other caregivers had very rigid boundaries. There was no physical touch (not that there was much with the other side of my family.) We never talked about how we felt either. There were never conversations about who we were as people. Preferences, likes and dislikes weren’t discussed. We seldom had any conversations that went deeper than the state of the weather. We also barely saw each other as well. Any chance we had to build a relationship was frozen by the oppressive frigidity of the nature of our relationship.

These types of boundaries left me feeling as though I wasn’t good enough to be around. As though there was something wrong with me. Though nothing was ever explicitly said, there was an uncomfortable air of feeling deeply wrong. Looking back, I can recognize that if my family didn’t want to touch, talk to or get to know their own son, there must be something wrong with me. Again, a sense of desperation set in as I tried to figure out why I was being rejected. Only this time the rules had changed. I felt empty and as though I wasn’t good enough. But there was also a lack of trust on my caregivers part as well.

Trusting Others is Difficult with Rigid Boundaries

I had no idea that the lack of trust didn’t stem from me. Only that the rigidity, the stiffness of the boundaries made me feel as though, if I wasn’t behaving properly, or wasn’t as stoic or serious as my caregiver were, than I wasn’t good enough.

I was being rejected again, but I had no idea what I was or wasn’t doing. However I did know that some attention was better than none. So for me, a lack of boundaries was more “nourishing” than being completely rigid.

Making the Choice

So I chose to emulate my caregivers that resembled Jim Morrison. And live the destructive lifestyle that came with it. I would later make the switch to becoming rigid in my boundaries. Basing my values on how much I could sacrifice, while thinking in black and white terms. But no matter which path I chose, I still didn’t feel belonging. This was where I came to realize just how unhealthy my boundaries and relationships truly were. This is something I’m still coming to terms with. But I’ve picked up some resources along the way that have helped me to make some sense of my relationships. Let’s take a look at a few of them. Hopefully some will find them useful.

Finding Insperation

I have a few photos on my phone’s wallpaper, that rotate as reminders to me. They are: two photos of dogs I want, a photo of Adriene from yoga with Adriene, a photo of Dana Schultz from The Minimalist Baker, Tom Hanks, a picture of the bedroom I would one day like to build in my future home and a photo of Tupac Shakur. The reason I bring up these photos is because they’ve come to represent a sense of balance in my life. Things that I’m aspiring to and where I’ve come from.

Companionship

The photos of the dogs helps to remind me of the possibility for companionship, unconditionally. I’ve never seen a dog look at a person and say, “I can’t wag my tail at you. You’re too ugly.” They are just little fluffballs of loving energy. This helps to remind me that no matter how rigid boundaries have been in the past, there are always sources of healthy connection and affection. I just need to find them and choose them.

Caring for Myself & My Limits

The photo of Adrienne reminds me that there are people out there doing good work. They don’t have to sacrifice themselves to be liked or accepted. And in fact, are loved and accepted for pursuing something they love to do. Adriene is also a source of positive energy and motivation. As well as helping me to look out for my health.

Yoga has taught me how to care for my physical self without pushing myself beyond what I’m capable of. Taking care of myself on the mat is a way for me to respect my boundaries around how much I feel I should be accomplishing. Especially when I feel my boundaries are too rigid. I.e. pushing myself beyond what I’m capable of achieving. I know that the purpose of my practice isn’t to push myself until I pass out. I’m there to listen to my body. Also respond to its needs with care. Push my limits, while also listening to what my body is telling me.

Nutritional Needs

The same is true of my photo of Dana from Minimalist Baker. She has seen me through some tough times while helping me learn how to cook for and care for my nutritional needs. All the while, not sacrificing the flavors I love. I owe her a great deal and am constantly grateful for what she’s taught me. Dana was the start of me understanding what healthy boundaries looked like in regards to food and nutrition. And I eat a healthier diet thanks to her.

Kindness

Tom Hanks is there mostly for the roles he played in the movies I grew up watching. There was a time where he was the only responsible role model I had. I watched as he showed care for the people he was acting with. And cared for them in a stable and responsible way. He was never abusive, mild in temperament and shared freely his emotional world. These traits showed me that it wasn’t ridiculous to have a reasonable expectation of a person. That it was normal and healthy to have healthy boundaries.

And growing up in a void of healthy role modeling meant that there was nobody to talk to. The T.V. was my closest family member. This made for a very lonely upbringing. I was never really sure of what I was feeling. And the lack of connection and neglect was, looking back on it, abusive. I’m surprised that I’ve made it as far as I have. And relatively unscathed.

Levity

Which brings me to Tupac. Tupac is on my phone to remind me of where I came from. As the man said, “everybody and their lady got a little bit of thug in ’em”. Me included. Which is funny, because I was and still am, mostly a hippie. : ) But Tupac reminds me that when I feel those rigid boundaries begin to creep in, the ones that tell me I have to be as good as humanly possible, or else, to ease up.

Bringing Balance to Your Boundaries

Everybody has a little rebellious streak in them. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, if you let that side take the reigns as I did, life can get out of control quickly. But stifle it too much and you’ll become paralyzed by fear.

So whether you’ve had poorly defined boundaries, or too rigid ones, there are ways to find a new way of being that leaves you feeling as though you are in charge of your life. While also being able to let go a little and relax. But it takes work. Boundaries, unfortunately, don’t build themselves. But with some dedication and a few good role models, it’s possible to create ones that will aid you.

So if you’re looking to shore up your boundaries, start by choosing some healthy role models. Are there people you are drawn to that seem to have a healthy grasp on their life? Start there. What are they doing that you admire? What are drawn to? Do you have behaviors you are unhappy with? Or wish you could change? These areas are worth exploring more. Maybe find someone who has been in your shoes. What are they doing and how have they changed?

I hope this has been helpful to you in some way. It isn’t an easy path. To nurture something like boundaries that have been neglected for such a long time. But it’s worth it in the end. So stay strong! And remember, you were built for this! Thanks for reading : ) peace.

Image Credits: “Blurring Boundaries” by Karthick R is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Updated: 10/25/22

What to do When You Don’t Know How To Live Your Life: Five Areas That Need Our Attention, Your Budget

I have been thinking about mending things with my caregivers recently. And in an attempt to understand the scope of what was troubling me with our relationship, while I was growing up and beyond, I went over the areas in my life that I feel have been neglected. First by my caregivers and then by me. It was the realization that I had been carrying the legacy of neglect, that brought me to the point of wanting to reconcile. I was floored with the list I came up with. I’ll be going over my budget in this post and will hit the other areas of my neglected life in the posts to come.

A Fresh Start

The amount of neglect I endured is somewhat staggering. But as I organize the areas of my life that were either neglected by me or my caregivers, or I just didn’t know needed my attention, I felt a sense of taking charge of my life. There are many places that need tending to in my life to be sure. But organizing these areas feels somehow like a foothold in what feels like an insurmountable pile of, for lack of a better term, a life unlived. And what makes me most optimistic is, that I’ve already begun the work. A lot of which has been written in the pages of this blog.

In the next few posts, I’ll be going over the areas of focus I’ve been attending to in my life. I’m doing this as a way of reparenting myself around what was never taught to me. Or what I was too angry or disconnected to want to learn. The areas I’ll be covering will be; budget and finance, nutrition and health/exercise, school and career focus, healthy relationships, romantic and friendships, and self-care. I’ll be covering each topic in a separate post or posts and how they are integral to helping us move past the wrongs done to us in our pasts. By being better versions of ourselves, we can learn to forgive and heal so we can move on with our lives. So let’s jump in with budget and personal finance.

Budget & Personal Finance: Debt

I’ve been following Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” to get out of debt and reign in my budget. I’ve spoke about him before on this blog. He’s a financier who made a lot of money buying property on borrowed money. Then he went bankrupt when the housing market crashed in the late 2000’s. Now, he helps people get out of debt. Something I had a lot of. I had about 5 credit cards in my early twenties, mostly just to have credit cards. I didn’t have a plan for the money I was borrowing, so I just kept on borrowing until I maxed out all my cards. It was not a sustainable life style.

It took me the better part of a decade to pay back the debt I racked up. I don’t even like to think about the amount of interest I paid. But what is most concerning about what I was doing is, I was borrowing money because it’s what I saw. I watched my caregivers shop endlessly for things they didn’t need. So I did what they did. What I hadn’t realized was, that they were paying of their balance each month. But I didn’t know because they never taught me how to handle my finances or make a budget and follow it.

And to top it off, I took out student loans at the height of the student loan lending frenzy. Much like with my credit cards, I had no idea what I was going to do with my degree once I got it. I was getting one because it’s what I thought I needed to do. So by the time I was in my early thirties, I was 130k in debt with a degree I wasn’t sure what to do with. This was sobering.

Digging Myself Out of Debt, AKA Creating a Budget

Here was the point where I made the decision to dig myself out of the hole I had dug. It was not easy. This also was the time I found Dave Ramsey and began my debt free journey.

I began with a written budget. This was a shock to me. Mostly because I had no idea where my money was going and was surprised when I found out. I think the biggest one was finding out that I was regularly spending upwards to six hundred dollars a month on food! And that was just for me! Things definitely needed to change and they needed changing fast.

I started by sorting the different categories of my spending into a budget. Categories such as rent, food and phone were no brainers. But other areas such as, self care, gifts and donations, food and friends, weren’t as obvious. I was finally shedding some light on the places that so needed some of my love and attention. This is how I discovered what I was spending and where. I needed to set more structured boundaries around my financial life.

Budget & Emotional Connections

While I was teaching myself how to budget, I remembered that I had watched one of my caregivers faithfully going over the spending for the household while sitting at the kitchen table. This was a ritual they did often. Though one they never passed on to me. These were some of the missed teachable moments that I never received. The lessons that my caregivers should have been pulling me aside to teach me, while they were writing their weekly budget. And I realized this is how we pass on our knowledge. The things we know to those who are in our care.

This new knowledge made me sad. I had spent so much of my time seeking approval from them by doing whatever I thought would get their attention, usually by doing something irresponsible, that I didn’t realize what I was missing out on. The basic skills I would need to run my life. I was missing the most fundamental experiences of being part of a loving and functional family.

So it wasn’t only the life skill of making a budget I was missing out on, but also what it means to be a family. What it means to take care of one another. The difference between caretaking and caregiving. Doing for someone instead of showing someone how to do for themselves. I would later find out that none of my caregivers had racked up debt in the same way I had. They were very disciplined in regards to their spending habits.

Lessons Learned the Hard Way

This made the missteps of my journey sting a bit. Had I known what my caregivers knew, had they shown me, I would be in a far better financial situation. But lessons learned the hard way tend to stick better. I’ve learned how to manage and pay down large debt. How to build an emergency fund for unforeseen circumstances. But also, and most importantly, how to be consistent in my spending and saving habits. By keeping track of what I spend and making a budget each month. This allows me to set financial goals. Goals such as paying off my credit card debt or setting up an emergency fund.

There were some setbacks for me along the way, but I was still able to achieve my goal in the time I planned. This gave me a feeling of agency over my financial situation. Knowing I could make a plan and follow through felt strange but satisfying. Strange in that it was something that was foreign to me.

I was left to my own devices at the age of nine. Direction, goal setting and being shown how to be persistent were not values and skills I was taught how to achieve. But by using my terrible circumstances, I learned to set these goals for myself. I also learned how to pay down large debt and follow a plan through to completion. And all this on my own made it so much more gratifying. It feels as though I really earned what I achieved. Lending even more to my sense of accomplishment.

Following a Plan & Achieving Goals

The way I got there was fairly straightforward. As I said above, I followed Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps which showed me how to pay off my debt. I’m currently still paying off student loans, but am on track to finish with my loans just inside of two years. For a link to Dave Ramsey’s site, head on over to my Community Page.

My plan was to pay off my credit cards first. One at a time starting with the card that had the lowest balance. Then working my way up to the card with the largest balance. That way I could take the minimum payment from the card I had just finished paying off, add it to the next one on my list, along with everything else I could throw at it. This is called the snowball effect. It was satisfying to not only watch my debt reduce, but at the same time, watch the amount of money I was freeing up to pay off my debt, increase dramatically.

By the time I paid of my credit cards and was on to my student loans, I was putting a sizeable amount of cash towards it each pay period. And this was heartening. Because this is the amount of money that I will be saving and putting towards other financial goals once I’m done with debt. Instead of paying off creditors that have already leveraged an unreasonable amount of interest from my financial unknowing, I’ll be banking that cash.

Savings & Emergency Funds

After my debt is paid down, the next step is to create an emergency fund of at least six month’s expenses. Dave suggests between three to six months expenses. But I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck for too long. There were many times where I was uncertain if I was going to make rent for the month. I’ve been very lucky considering how I’ve handled my money in the past. I don’t want to tempt fate by being unprepared. I even have a friend who is saving a full year’s worth of expenses.

Your emergency fund will look a little different from everybody else’s. For me it’s six months, for my friend twelve. The most important aspect of setting an emergency fund is how comfortable are you with the number you’ve decided on. Don’t do it just because someone else told you you should. Do it because it makes you feel comfortable with your financial situation.

And if you’re planning with a partner, try to hash out a number, making sure you both agree and feel comfortable with what you come up with. Which number feels right for the both of you? This is how you stay open in communication, while feeling more connected with one another. From my experience, this is precisely where a younger me would have wanted to be invited into the conversation. About finding the place that makes me feel safest in my financial future. To know how to best care for and attune to my financial needs.

Communication & Money, Savings & Retirement

While I was married, we communicated seldom. Especially when it came to money. To be fair, we were both coming from places of being inexperienced. I came from a place where no one talked about money, ever. This was unhealthy. And the main reason I had no idea what to do when it came time for me to take the reigns of my own financial life. My ex was in the same boat as I was. Only I’m not really sure because we never talked about her experience. Something I regret now. This should have been a warning sign. But I was numb and had muted emotions. I was trying to survive from day to day. Any thoughts of planning for the future seemed so far off, it may well have been in another life’s time. But the lesson I learned from this situation was, talk early and talk often.

Once you’re finished setting up your emergency fund, it’s time to start saving for your future. This comes in the form of some type of retirement fund. Conventional wisdom suggests to open a Roth IRA. This is an individual retirement account, where the money you put in gets taxed when you put it into the account. So when you are ready to make withdrawals, the money you take out is tax free. There is a cap you can put into a Roth IRA, and that’s 6,000$ a year and up to 7,000$ a year after you’re 50th birthday.

Of course, each individual’s situation is going to be different. So it’s best to find an advisor that can guide you through the process of planning for your retirement. This is definitely not the time and place to wing it! This brings up another lesson that was not taught to me when I was younger. Something that has gotten me in trouble time and time again. If you don’t know something, ask someone who does.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask

This seems like such a no brainer. But the amount of time I’ve spent making poor decisions because I thought I’d look either weak, or stupid if I asked for help, makes me a little uneasy. So incase you haven’t been told, it’s okay not to know. Find the people who do and make them a part of your support network. Your team. And don’t be afraid to ask around either.

I have a friend who works in the financial industry. They were able to steer me in the direction of someone who could explain to me what it would look like to take hold of my financial future and make it stable. If it wasn’t for them, I’m sure I would have found someone. But I feel more connected and sure about my choice speaking to a mutual friend, knowing that I’ve been aided in my search by a trusted friend.

After you hammer out all the basics of how you are going to pay the bills with your new budget, pay off your debt, build an emergency fund and save for retirement, then you can actually enjoy your money in the here and now. It’s sometimes strange for me to think about. A time after my debt. Because I’ve been in debt for so long and so focused on paying it off. But the entire reason I’m working to pay off my debt and plan for my future is because I want a future worth planning for.

Lifestyle Sacrifices

For me, I’ve been living as barebones as possible while I’m paying off my debt. I don’t buy too many things for myself unless I need them. For example, I think the things I’ve bought for myself most recently have been iced teas in the mornings where I need an extra boost of energy and a pair of running shoes I desperately needed. Asides from those things, I’ve been funneling all available funds to my debt.

I’ve been living like this for so long that it seems just the norm. To not splurge on anything other than a coffee here and there, or a new pair of shoes. And this can get a little depressing. I won’t lie to you, it ain’t easy. But I’ve started a list of things I want to buy when I no longer have debt. This list, in and of itself, is a motivator for me. Looking at all the things I’ll be able to indulge in when I’m financially stable enough not to worry, is something I’m looking forward to.

The Silver Lining, Enjoying Your Money

For example, on my list are a variety of teas I enjoy from a seller who has exceptional variety and quality. Knowing I’ll be looking forward to my morning cup of jasmine green will be so much sweeter when it’s brewed from tea I love.

I also plan on buying spices from an organic spice company I’ve used in the past and whose product I love. Their quality is excellent and knowing that I’ll have a freshly rotated stock of all the spices I love, brings me a sense of joy. Knowing my meals will be that much more flavorful is another motivator to help me achieve my financial goals.

I’m also planning a trip to celebrate my debt free journey. To take some much needed rest after my marathon race to achieve my debt free goal. And I will feel so much more at ease knowing I’m not living on borrowed money. Knowing I’m taking care of my financial needs. All while being able to enjoy the benefits that come with a well planned for financial future.

Take Control

So if you’ve left the financial sector of your life neglected for far too long, maybe it’s time to take another look at your situation and where you’re headed. Creating some much needed boundaries around spending can be an eye opening and fruitful experience. If this is your first foray into the subject, I definitely suggest talking with a professional who can guide you on a path towards a successful financial future.

And if you, like me, have found yourself in the depths of what seems like an unfathomable amount of debt, it is never too late to start digging yourself out. Head over to my Community Page and take a look at the work Dave Ramsey is doing in helping to get people out of debt. Also Mint, another site on the Community Page, is a powerful tool in helping to get control over your spending and finances. Check out community sites such as Reddit, personal finance. There are loads of people with questions that are crowdsourcing answers from people who have been there before.

And remember, you’re not alone. It is difficult and scary at times, looking at the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. But it is totally possible and doable to get ourselves out. Good luck, peace and thanks for reading : )

Image credits: “I’m So Confused!” by Ian Sane is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Updated: 10/14/22

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