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Author Topic: 1.07 | Boundaries and Values  (Read 95678 times)
Skip
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« on: August 15, 2007, 05:59:13 PM »

Upholding our values and independence
 
Values.   A healthy relationship is sometimes described as an “inter-dependent” relationship of two “independent” people. Regardless of the type of relationship, we all come to it with values that we intend to honor and defend regardless of the nature of the relationship - these are known as core values or independent values - this is what defines us.  
 
We also have values that we are prepared to mold and adapt as we blend with the other person in the relationship - these become inter-dependent values - this is how we grow together.
 
Having a healthy relationship takes a great deal of self awareness and knowing:
 
  • which values are independent, core values to be upheld by us and defended (in a constructive way, of course), and

  • which values are more open for compromise or replacement based on our blending with and building a relationship with another person (partner, friend, relative).

Independent core values    Identify and live your personal values!  Independent core values determine our decisions and guide our lives. It's important that we stay true to them- they should be clearly reflected in the life choices we make.  Those who value their individuality take responsibility, are self-reliant and act with self-respect. Those who value truthfulness cannot bring themselves to tell a lie. Those who value family or friendship sacrifice their personal interests for the good of others. Those who value goodness cannot bring themselves to do something they know is wrong. We express values in our relations with other people when we are loyal, reliable, honest, generous, trusting, trustworthy, feel a sense of responsibility for family, friends, co-workers, our organization, community or country.
 
Be realistic    Being realistic about values is important. If we have an unusually large number of uncompromisable independent values / core values, we may be too dogmatic to have a relationship with very many people. At the same time, if we have so few independent values, or such a weak commitment to them, we will then be "undefined" to ourselves and to others. When that happens, the only values that matter are those of others. The latter is common in codependent or enmeshed relationships.
 

Boundaries    Boundaries are how we define our values to others.   A boundary is nothing more than the outer perimeters of our independent core values -  it's like a fence  - anything inside the boundary is consistent with our core values and anything outside the boundary is not.  For example, if your independent core value is "always to be respectful of others" a boundary question might be "would abruptly walking out of the room when someone says something offensive be inside or outside of your definition of this value?"  It's not always obvious - we all see things differently.  As you can quickly see, with values, we have a significant responsibility to lead, educate and inform others - we must walk the walk, have effective communication and be consistent.
 
There are three types of boundaries:
 
~ Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances.
 
~ Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions.
 
~ Emotional boundaries help us deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others.
 

Defending Boundaries   Even when we live our values responsibly,  we can still encounter boundary busting.
 
When this happens, we should first challenge ourselves.   Counter-intuitive, I know.  <1> Did we make choices that were inconsistent with our independent core values?  If so, which was wrong, the value or the choice?  :)o we need to change one?  <2> Have we been consistent in our actions and effective in our communications?  Or have we been sending a mixed message?  :)o we need to dedicate the time and effort to clean this up (this takes time)?
 
We also need to look at all the options(s) we have to available to us to help us navigate back and stay true to our value.  I use the plural form of option because just saying "no" and taking timeout is not enough. Yes, it helps greatly in the moment, but if we are in a value hostile environment, we need to look at all the ways we can address that.
 
 Idea Having values empowers us and motivates others.
 
I listen to the points of view of others and take them seriously
 
I treat everybody with respect
 
I am always supportive of family and friends
 
I am totally honest in all my dealings with others
 
... .and I expect that same.

 
 Idea Defending boundaries (without values) tends to be shallow, reactive, and confrontational
 
I will not tolerate you getting in my face (stated aggressively)
 
If you do things I don't like, I will respond by doing things that are equally distressing to you
 
You weren't there when I needed you, so I wasn't there when you need me
 
Etc.

 

Workshop Objectives  The key discussion points around values / boundaries are:
 
  • Do I know which values are important to maintain my independence, autonomy, safety?
  • Do I know which values need to be yielded and compromised in order to have a relationship?
  • What are legitimate / fair values (vs selfish values)?
  • Do I know how to set limits in a constructive loving way?
  • How do I  know the tricks and traps? (what not to do)?
  • How do I handle it if someone is upset or hurt by my values/boundaries?
  • How do I reestablish a value that I failed to protect in the past?
  • How do I respond when someone is trying to violate or test my value/boundaries?
  • Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider defending boundaries?

Thanks in advance for your advice in this work
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2007, 09:42:57 PM »

Setting Boundaries and Setting Limits




Read article here

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Cyndi
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2007, 08:02:34 AM »

I agree, Skip, values and defense are an essential part of a healthy relationship.  

I think what one person values another may not tolerate.  That is a compatibility issue.  I think in a normal relationship there have to be common core values.  Fidelity being one of them.  

Trouble comes when you come across someone who doesn't share or respect your core values.  That's when the boundary must be defined.  It's part of your personal beliefs, of who you are.  If you allow this boundary to be crossed, you are being unfaithful to your own values.  And if you allow your boundaries to be crossed on a continues basis just to keep a relationship alive, you lose a great part of yourself, and your self-respect in the process.  That's a pretty high price to pay, and very difficult to get back.

For some relationship, such as with those with BPD, those unspoken values must be defined and in some cases, taught.  Not in the heat of the moment, but when it can be discussed rationally and calmly.  You might want to ask them what their own values are, so you can work together.

I firmly believe that once someone knows your values and still continues to violate them at will, does not love you, respect you or is unable to have a relationship with you in a healthy way.  

I guess it is up to the individual as to how rigid to be in teaching and seeking compliance.  Some of us will be more tolerant than others.  

In my experience boundaries are crossed as a means of control.  Control and manipulation have no place in a healthy relationship.  Period.  Knowing when to walk away when your values have been trampled on is a very important part of having love and respect for yourself.  And in the end, the only person you are responsible for is yourself.  So be good to yourself!  You are worth it.
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Mollyd
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2007, 05:29:20 PM »

Values, boundaries, and boundary defense are a commitment to myself, not an attempt to force change or control another person.

An important aspect of "boundaries" is that it sometimes takes some effort to grasp is the idea that values are a commitment to myself  - not an attempt to force change or control another person.

The struggles of defending (setting) boundaries is often an issue that overlaps greatly with co-dependent tendencies or not having healthy relationship practices.  Many people with codependent tendencies lean toward "knowing" well what other people need to do, but struggle greatly to re-focus their attention onto themselves.  When the focus goes back on the self, some people struggle to know who they are, what they want, or to take responsibility for how to get it.

So, the quandary can be - "I want this, and I want it from/with a certain person".  What we want may be attainable in a relationship with the desired person, or it may not.  Part of being responsible for our own well being is accepting this.

Values/boundaries, in practice, is a statement about one's self.  So, if we consider the codependent tendency, early in the process of going from an unhealthy pattern to a healthy pattern - early in the process, we might tend to focus on the behavior of others as the solution (e.g. If so-and-so would do this,THEN I would be OK).  So early boundary defense attempts can look like "I'm going to do xyz so that my SO/parent will do this".  This is not living a value or defending a boundary.  Instead, it is really an attempt to control the behavior of another person.  The way to check this is to consider your motivation.  Are we, in our attempt to defend a boundary, trying to change the behavior of another, or just stating what we are willing to do/not do?  If we are trying to change another what we are doing is really an attempt to control or get what we not and this is not healthy.

Values/boundaries are about knowing who we are and what we will choose to participate in.  So, a boundary looks more like, "I will choose to participate in abc ... .I will not participate in xwy".  There is no statement in this "values/boundary" about what someone else needs to do, only about the self.  Boundaries require a sense of personal responsibility.  My well being is my responsibility, not the result of someone else's behavior.

Boundaries can be tricky to defend, especially with someone we've been in a patterned relationship with. Seeking feedback about our boundaries can be a great way to get new ideas for implementing boundaries.

M.
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2007, 01:07:48 AM »

Skip, I think the key to values and boundaries is communicating them when you are calm and not when you are angry. Indiscriminate "boundaries enforcement" set in anger is usually reversed, and the borderline gets the message that you don't mean what you say.  

Not sure which question this answers, but I think it addresses a few of them in a roundabout way.
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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2007, 01:26:57 PM »

What do you do when your BPD expects you to 'comfort' them about each and every one of of their constant emotional 'needs'.  I was told I wasn't being 'loving' when I didn't want to go over and 'poor baby' him every time he was upset or when it was over something that happened long ago (even times when I did do something and had apologized and made amends and never did it again-I had to forever and ever hear about it and 'comfort' him-he was big on 'comforting' him).  How do you word your boundary over this issue so that it sounds reasonable and caring but so that he isn't sucking you dry?
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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2007, 06:31:05 PM »

What do you do when your BPD expects you to 'comfort' them about each and every one of of their constant emotional 'needs'. ... .How do you word your boundary over this issue so that it sounds reasonable and caring but so that he isn't sucking you dry?

I think what you are saying is that your the interdependent value, or "couples value" is not one you both agree on - is that correct? Boundary enforcement is only going to make matter worse in this case.

What has worked for me, both when used on me, and when I use it on others, is to say something like: "I'm really sorry.  I wish I could do that, but I'm in kind of a bad place right now and can't do it.  I love you, and I hope I can help you get what you need later on."

It conveys the respect you have for them and for you.  It acknowledges and validates their request, lets them know that you care, and gives them that absolutely crucial bit of hope that they need to believe that they aren't the worthless pieces of crap that they think they are.  And you aren't offering them too many details about your own feelings, for them to start twisting around.

Also, the absolute worse thing to do with someone who is suffering from BPD is to threaten (even calmly) that you are going to leave them.  Fear of abandonment is the crux of the problem, and fulfilling their worst fears is only going to make them worse.  I learned this the extremely hard way! :-)

I find what works very well for me and my husband is basic relationship negotiation, it  seems to be much more successful, and seems to be more of an "adult" way of relating to people.  

When I start treating my husband like a kid (in his eyes at least), he starts acting more like a kid, and that's the opposite effect that I'm shooting for. :-)

-Turil
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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2008, 05:51:45 AM »

A key to values/ boundaries is knowing your inner self: your beliefs, desires, needs, and intuitions.  When you know your inner self, it will become nearly impossible for someone else to manipulate you.  None of us who were hurt by our borderline in adult relationships had healthy boundaries in place.

According to Charles Whittfield M.D, healthy value boundaries are NOT:

1. Set for us by others
2. Hurtful or harmful
3. Controlling or manipulative
4. Invasive or dominating
5. Rigid and immovable

healthy value boundaries  ARE:
1. present
2. appropriate
3. clear
4. firm
5. protective
6. flexible
7. receptive.
8. determined by US
Boundaries and Relationships by Charles Whittfield, M.D
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2008, 07:08:11 AM »

The purpose of communicating values boundaries is to protect and take care of our core values.   A first step is starting to know that we have a right to have values.  That we have not only the right, but the duty, to take this responsibility.   We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us.  

The process of Recovery teaches us how to take down the walls and protect ourselves in healthy ways - by learning what healthy boundaries are, how to set them, and how to defend them.  It teaches us to be discerning in our choices, to ask for what we need, and to be assertive and Loving in meeting our own needs. ~ Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

We need to be aware of what healthy behavior and acceptable values look like before we can defend boundaries and encourage the proper treatment from others.  We need to start learning how to be emotionally honest with ourselves, how to start owing our feelings, and how to communicate in a direct and honest manner.  Setting personal values is vital part of healthy relationships - which are not possible without communication.

Learning how to defend boundaries is also a vital part of learning to own our self, of learning to respect ourselves, of learning to love ourselves.  If we never have to define a boundary, then we will never get in touch with who we really are - will never escape the enmeshment of codependence and learn to define ourselves as separate in a healthy way.

Line in the sand  When I first encountered the concept of boundary enforcement, I thought of them as lines that I would draw in the sand - and if you stepped across them I would shoot you (figuratively speaking.)  I had this image of some place like the Alamo - from a movie I guess - where a sword was used to draw a line in the sand, and then those that were going to stay and fight to the death stepped across it.  I thought that boundaries had to be rigid and final and somehow kind of fatal.

Some values / boundaries are rigid - and need to be - core vales such as respectfulness even when disagreement and disappointment arises.  No one deserves to be treated abusively.  We all should treat each other with respect and and dignity and we deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.  

Our abuse towards others  Often if we do not respect ourselves, we will end up exhibiting abusive behavior towards people.  On some level in our codependence, we are more comfortable with abusing and being abused (because it is what we have always known) than being treated in a loving way.

Communicate boundaries constructively  Learning to communicate boundaries constructively is vital to learning to love our self, and to communicating to other's that we have worth. Communicating a boundary is not making a threat - it is communicating clearly the value and what is and is not inclded.

Communicating a boundary is not an attempt to control the other person (although some of the people who you set boundaries with will certainly accuse you of that - just as some will interpret it as a threat) - it is a part of the process of defining ourselves and what is acceptable to us.  It is a major step in taking what control we can of how we treat and allow others to treat us.  It is a vital step in taking responsibility for our self and our life.

Communicating boundaries is not a more sophisticated way of manipulation - although some people will say they are setting boundaries, when in fact they are attempting to manipulate.  The difference between setting a boundary in a healthy way and manipulating is:  when we set a boundary we let go of the outcome.

We need to own all of our choices   Sometimes when there are ongoing boundary problems it is because we made a bad choice somewhere along the line.  Now we want the other person to change their behavior to resolve our bad choice.  We hope they will.  But we need to own all of our choices in order to empower ourselves to take responsibility for our lives and stop setting ourselves up to be a victim.  One of our choices is resolve or bad choice.  We can leave a marriage.  We can end a friendship.  We can leave a job.  We do not have to have any contact with our family of origin.  It is vitally important to own all of our choices.

If we do not own that we have a choice to leave an abusive relationship - then we are not making a choice to stay in the relationship.  Any time we do not own our choices, we are empowering victimization.  We will then blame the other person, and/or blame ourselves.  It is a vital part of the process of learning to love ourselves, and taking responsibility for being a co-creator in our life, to own all of our choices.

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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2008, 12:38:14 PM »

what i find very interesting when is that because i am such an open and honest person who gives of myself and tries to get along, people sometimes get offended when i do enforce a boundary. they take it personally.

why do people have a difficult time with the word "no?" why do they get bent out of shape when you express your needs and wants that might not be the same as theirs?

The purpose of communicating values boundaries is to protect and take care of our core values.   A first step is starting to know that we have a right to have values.  That we have not only the right, but the duty, to take this responsibility.   We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us. 

what do you do when you communicate and nonverbally demonstrate your boundaries, but the other person lashes out with over the top, unwarranted anger and nastiness? i'm finding that people take so much personally today that it's like walking in a minefield... .you never know when someone is going to explode all over you with their verbal diarrhea.

i agree 110% that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. when i'm not, i express it in hopes that the message is received, but if not, i'm out and can't be bothered with that person anymore.

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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2008, 03:02:21 PM »

Very good overview, Skip!
what i find very interesting when is that because i am such an open and honest person who gives of myself and tries to get along, people sometimes get offended when i do enforce a boundary. they take it personally.  why do people have a difficult time with the word "no?" why do they get bent out of shape when you express your needs and wants that might not be the same as theirs?  i agree 110% that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. when i'm not, i express it in hopes that the message is received, but if not, i'm out and can't be bothered with that person anymore.

One thing we all struggle with is setting boundaries with confidence, and meaning what we say. Setting boundaries is difficult for a number of reasons. First, we have let them slide. In her book, “The Emotionally Abusive Relationship,” Engel writes, “Most of us begin a relationship thinking we have certain limits as to what we will and will not tolerate from a partner. But as the relationship progresses, we tend to move our boundaries back, tolerating more and more intrusion or going along with things we are really opposed to. . . . [Individuals] begin tolerating unacceptable and even abusive behavior, and then convince themselves that these behaviors are normal, acceptable, [and deserved].  So how do you go back? Long before you say one word, you plan. This plan will act as your road map and safety net. Each of the following five “Cs” is a component of the plan: •   Clarify.•   Calculate costs.•   Come up with consequences.•   Create a consensus.•   Consider possible outcomes.CLARIFY YOUR LIMITSThink about the limits you would like to set. Although you will pick something small to begin with, try brainstorming with others and get everything out on the table. (Other people frequently see options that non-BPs don’t.) Look through this book or others like it to give you ideas. If you have a higher-functioning “invisible “BP, questions like these can get you started:•   What subjects do I try to avoid?•   What is best for my life, long and short term?•   What is best for those in my care?•   What do I want in this relationship?•   What do I need in this relationship?•   What makes me feel safe?•   What makes me feel angry?If you have a lower-functioning conventional BP, you may wish to take the problem-solving approach discussed in the sidebar “Limits and Your Child with BPD.” [Not included in this excerpt.]Therapist Perry Hoffman says, “Your limits may be less about what you expect the other person to do and more about what you are willing to accept. Decide what you’re willing to tolerate and then put in a plan. For example, a mother who was attacked by her daughter required that the daughter be in treatment to keep receiving rent money. Or, if her daughter destroyed something, then the mother would not be willing to drive her daughter to her friend’s house.”Some parents report that they have a tendency to do too much for their children. Trial and error can help you determine what lower-functioning conventional BPs can and can’t do for themselves. One parent says, “My wife and I did a lot of soul searching about whether we should swoop in and insert ourselves into her business. We decided that some areas were off limits, like school, job hunting, and making doctor appointments. As a result, she started exhibiting more independence in those areas. We learned that when we did meddle, if something went wrong it was going to be all our fault.” As you plan, leave room for negotiation. Freda Friedman, PhD, a therapist whose primary focus is BPD, says, “Sometimes two people have to negotiate their differing limits. This may mean that each one has to give a little at times and try to validate where the other is coming from.”CALCULATE THE COSTSWe are so busy living our day-to-day lives that we don’t keep very good track of the things that gnaw at us. When faced with a problem we can’t solve, we ignore it and hope it will go away. Or, we use problem-solving methods that never worked before, just in case of a miracle.Then, a crisis occurs, or our situation deteriorates to a point when old coping techniques don’t work anymore. Ruefully, we conclude, “Uh-oh, I shouldn’t have ignored this. This cost me more than I thought it would. I wish I had been paying more attention, or really thought this through earlier. Perhaps I would have made different choices.”To maintain your limits over the long haul, you need to have conviction that the limit is necessary and appropriate. Conviction comes when you know how much it costs not to have the limit in place. The longer you wait, the more it costs. The question is, how much does not having limits in central areas of your life cost you right now? What about in the future? You might look at actual costs, say, of giving money to a child, or the costs in stress, amount of time spent, pleasures you’ve had to forgo, opportunity costs, and so on. Randi
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2008, 03:03:40 PM »

How to Develop Boundaries

An important first step in developing healthy value boundaries is to get acquainted with, and take ownership, of your true self.  This is essential before healthy values can be lived.  As adults, we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.  We have freedom to respond, to make choices, and to limit the way others' behavior affects us.  As a "free agent",  we can take responsibility for our freedom by setting boundaries, or borders, between ourselves and those around us.    Some people refuse to set boundaries because they see them as selfish.  Others actually use them to be selfish.  Both are wrong.  Boundaries are about self-control.

 Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend have written several books on the subject of boundaries.  According to these authors, there are ten law of boundaries:

The Law Of Sowing and Reaping - Choices have consequences.    

The Law of Responsibility - We are responsible TO each other, not FOR each other.  

The Law of Power - We have power over some things, we don't have power over others (including changing people    It is human nature to try to change and fix others so that we can be more comfortable.  We can't change or fix our borderline, but we do have the power to change our own life.

The Law of Respect - If we wish for others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs.  If your bp is a rager, you should not dictate to him/her all the reasons that they can't be angry.  A person should have the freedom to to protest the things they don't like.  But at the same time, we can honor our own boundary by telling our bp, "Your raging at me is not acceptable to me.  If you continue to rage, I will have to remove myself from you."

The Law of Motivation - We must be free to say no before we can wholeheartedly say yes.  One can not actually love another if he feels he doesn't have a choice not to. Pay attention to your motives.

The Law of Evaluation - We need to evaluate the pain our values cause others.  :)o our values cause pain that leads to injury?  Or do they cause pain that leads to growth?

The Law of Proactivity - We take action to solve problems based on our values, wants, and needs.   Proactive people keep their freedom and they disagree and confront issues but are able to do so without getting caught up in an emotional storm.  This law has to do with taking action based on deliberate, thought out values versus emotional reactions.

The Law of Envy - We will never get what we want if we focus our values onto what others have.    Envy is miserable because we're dissatisfied with our state yet powerless to change it.  The envious person doesn't set limits because he is not looking at himself long enough to figure out what choices he has.

The Law of Activity - We need to take the initiative to solve our problems rather than being passive.   In a BPD relationship, sometimes one partner is active and the other is passive.  When this occurs, the active partner will dominate the passive one.  The passive partner may be too intimidated by the active one to say no.  This law has to do with taking initiative rather than being passive and waiting for someone else to make the first move.

The Law of Exposure - We need to communicate our values and their boundaries to our partner.   Values and boundary that are not communicated is a boundary that is not working.  We need to make clear what we do or do not want, and what we will or will not tolerate.  We need to also make clear that every boundary violation has a consequence.  A boundary without a consequence is nagging.
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« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2008, 10:06:59 PM »

I love the idea of value/boundary/defense - what a concept.

I had to set my uBPDh down and at a calm time let him know i had these values / boundaries and what they meant.  

He didn't like them at first, he even followed me out when I defended them by leaving a few times so I then either drove to a police station or I went on the dirt road  - his truck was his princess and no dirt road.

After a while it took a few times he backed away and he now lets' me leave I also told him I will be back when things calm down, when i leave he calls my cell phone every five minutes i listen the first verbal assault i erase sooner or later the message finally calms down and then i call him back letting him know one assault or blaming me bringing me down i will not listen and i will hang up again, i let him know i will listen if he stops his raging. in time by doing this his rages actually got farther apart, now he rants alot maybe about work but not rage and i will listen to him, that can wear me down but i will listen he is angry and need to vent but there is no verbal or abusive action against me or others ... so physically and mentally this is how my boundaries work.to find out boundaries were to protect me was just a big eye opener, they were for me to protect my well being and out of love... and things did improve over the years and i became a stronger person due to boundaries. i had to set a few over my time and then over time they got lesser and lesser... . oh but with me things got worse before they got better i learned to leave at a earlier stage before the full blown rage inc ase of physical abuse.  but again over time things that got worse eventually got better.
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« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2008, 09:58:32 PM »

Sometimes you don't need to tell the other person about your boundaries... . because they affect you, not the s.o.  You decide what you are going to accept and not accept and you decide what you will do when someone (anyone) violates your boundaries.  This is when things get very dicey... .If someone you didn't know came up to you and hit you in the face, you would probably get the police involved.  We know that is a violation of our boundaries.  But if someone we know and live with hits us, many of us wouldn't call the police--- or even leave the house!  So we have boundaries in terms of strangers but we can't maintain them in terms of our partners.

Wanda, I'm glad that you are getting stronger and he is getting his act together.  Erecting and maintaining boundaries does not necessarily mean that the relationship improves.  Sometimes things get worse... the BPDso realizes that he/she is losing control and he/she escalates the bad behaviors.  (Check out the Workshop on "Extinction Burst"  Or he/she leaves.  Or withholds sex.  Or finds a new partner.  Or something.  But, whether things get better or worse between us and the BPDso, we get stronger and we become more secure in ourselves.   That is ultimately more important than whether or not the relationship survives.
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2009, 08:32:05 AM »

CONSEQUENCES?Limits without consequences is nagging. It is about human nature and the fact that human beings tend to repeat actions that are rewarding and avoid actions that are unpleasant. In healthy relationships limits are in balance between our drive to be connected (please others) and our drive to be independent (please ourselves). You also found out that non-BPs tend to have boundaries that are too weak and too thin. Modifying your boundary style, or “changing the baseline” of what you will and won’t accept, can bring a healthier balance to the relationship.Changing your baseline means changing the parameters of what you will or will not tolerate or accept. Even if these are unstated, the people who know you best know just how far to push before you push back. Changing your baseline will require some soul searching and decision making. Make sure you’re realistic. You might even keep a daily journal to remind yourself of the costs to keep you motivated. Keep in mind you’re coming up with consequences for you and the relationship, not against your family member. And finally, remember that these limits are unique to you. You don’t need to justify them to anyone. CREATE A CONSENSUS?Everyone in the house needs to be on the same page—including siblings.  Parents who are not united will have marriage problems. It also exacerbates the splitting behavior.” CONSIDER POSSIBLE OUTCOMES?Universally, family members who set limits find that their BP’s actions get worse before they get better. In [my first book] Stop Walking on Eggshells, these heightened actions are called countermoves—actions designed to restore things back to the way they were. They can start small, with mild disagreement, and work up to threats and enlisting allies to pressure you. This is a normal response to limits; we all do it. With people who have BPD, however, it is more intense. In Stop Walking on Eggshells, the authors explain, “When you assertively redirect the pain back to the BP so they can begin to deal with it, you are breaking a contract you didn’t know you signed. Naturally, the BP will find this distressing . . . Your ability to withstand these countermoves will determine the future course of your relationship.” In the past, you probably weren’t expecting this. Now, you can plan for it. Your first step is to get out of deer-in-the-headlights mode. Untangle any threats and fears and consider each one in a logical manner using the Carnegie problem-solving process.Consider all the possible outcomes and prepare for them. Ask friends to help you think things through and give you support. Signs that you may need help from a mental health professional include the following:•   The BP’s actions are unsafe to either you or her, for example, major rages or threats of suicide.•   The relationship has been dysfunctional for many years.•   The person with BPD is in a position of some authority, such as a parent.•   You depend on your family member for practical matters, such as financial support or a place to live.•   Your family member has made threats in the past, especially scary ones.•   Your BP has enlisted allies to pressure you.•   You have been experiencing the symptoms listed at the beginning of chapter 7. I walk through this process from my book in the in greater detail here for anyone that wants to learn more about this process  Gnome Home exerciseRandi
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2009, 02:03:16 AM »

Equally as important as values/boundaries are your communication skills.

I wrote some phrases that I used recently when BPDsis was in hospital after second suicide attempt and before the third.  They follow the SET model of communication (Support, Empathy, Truth).

* I statements of person concern (SUPPORT)

* You statements that acknowledge and accept the BPs anguish/whatever - avoid sympathy statements such as I feel so sorry for you; I know/understand how you feel (that's likely to trigger rage) (EMPATHY)

* statements representing a realistic appraisal of the situation and recognising the BPs accountability in solving the problem. Use 'it' statements (it seems etc), be neutral, matter of fact, and make sure it's accompanied by empathy (TRUTH)

Specifically, some I've used with success - and as my sister is 6hrs drive away we talk on the phone mostly, rather than face to face, are:

* you sound as if you are feeling really defeated/powerless... .

* that must feel... .

* I can hear that you are (very angry, upset, etc)... .which concerns me

* what is worrying you the most?

* that must feel... .

Big key that my psychologist recommended when dealing with BPs (he treats them) is to make I statements because although they will try, nobody can tell you that what you are feeling is wrong:

e.g. If I'm understanding you right, you are angry about ****. From my point of view, it seems that... .

I feel that ... .

I am having trouble concentrating (because she's yelling at you but don't say that bit!) so I would like to continue this conversation later.

I need some time to think about the things you have said.

I don't remember it that way.

I feel as if you are blaming me entirely for **** but all relationships involve two people so we each need to take some responsibility here.

Please lower your voice. I understand that you are upset but I do not like being shouted at.

Another important tip from my T is to avoid becoming oppositional - I was inclined at one point when BPDsis was in hospital to tell her how much her children needed her and that would lead to an argument because she believed that they were better off without her etc. No way out of that one and it upset both of us and went nowhere.

It's really hard - you are not imagining it, bigsis. And it's really hard to get into the habit of changing the way you respond.

Know it sounds dopey but if you have a friend you can practice it with, that helps! I use my therapist - we role play it, taking turns. I play BPDsis being argumentative and difficult and listen to him responding, then we swap and I practice.

It's really helped.

Practicing in front of a mirror is good, too - means you can practice facial expression. Even on the other end of a non-visual phone, facial expression is important because it carries through and affects tone of voice which is essential.

I have a much better relationship with my BPDsis now - mainly because I've made the effort with communication. The relationship is still pretty much all about her but I don't really expect that to change. ANd it's been made easier now that she acknowledges her illness and is seeking help.

Sometimes validation and support/empathy/truth statements and responses can be regarded as 'handling' or 'manipulating' by the BP. Depends on their triggers. Some things that are okay to use with my sis trigger other people's BPs, so just be aware of how she responds and which ones are most effective.

If it's any help, we (mum and I) keep a folder beside the phone that gets fished out every time we have a phone call and opened at the 'useful responses' page to remind us of the new habits we're trying to develop. And if we're feeling fragile, we avoid the phone call or don't make it if we are initiating. That's part of boundaries, too, getting her to accept that we are allowed to feel off colour/fragile, not just her.

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« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2009, 01:21:30 PM »

When I'm afraid to defend boundaries, I develop resentment toward people and tend to avoid them, viewing them as pushy or controlling or engulfing... . I feel stepped on, not considered, abused or violated... .These feelings make me want to retreat as I feel unsafe, victimized... .

This is an easy trap to fall in - been there myself.  I eventually asked myself the question, if I don't believe in my values, why should anyone else?

Good mental health takes strength.

If we haven't believed in our values, we have dug ourselves a bit of a hole.  Now we first have to "walk the talk" long enough to convince others that we believe .  All the time we didn't stand square, we sent a message that "we didn't like it, but its OK".  If we waited until we finally "blew a gasket", we sent a message that "blowing a gasket once in a while is OK".

Getting back on track is like losing weight - it's a struggle getting there and it a commitment.

What has worked for me, both when used on me, and when I use it on others, is to say something like: "I'm really sorry.  I wish I could do that, but I'm in kind of a bad place right now and can't do it.  I love you, and I hope I can help you get what you need later on."

It conveys the respect you have for them and for you.  It acknowledges and validates their request, lets them know that you care, and gives them that absolutely crucial bit of hope that they need to believe that they aren't the worthless pieces of crap that they think they are.  And you aren't offering them too many details about your own feelings, for them to start twisting around.

Also, the absolute worse thing to do with someone who is suffering from BPD is to threaten (even calmly) that you are going to leave them.  Fear of abandonment is the crux of the problem, and fulfilling their worst fears is only going to make them worse.  I learned this the extremely hard way! :-)

I find what works very well for me and my husband is basic relationship negotiation, it  seems to be much more successful, and seems to be more of an "adult" way of relating to people.  

When I start treating my husband like a kid (in his eyes at least), he starts acting more like a kid, and that's the opposite effect that I'm shooting for. :-) -Turil

Turil, I really think you have captured the "tone" and an understanding of dependent and interdependent values.  It's about understanding your own values and what is healthy and fair for both and "living it" - providing leadership in the relationship - not being strident, militaristic, antagonistic - but rather committed, 360 degrees.

If we don't want aggression aimed toward us, we have to be sure not to be aggressive in communicating that point.

If we don't want immaturity aimed toward us, we have to be sure not to be immature in communicating that point.

It's also important to understand that if we understand our values and the other person in the relationship does not, that we can help them flesh out theirs and show them how we respect their values.

I'm sure someone is reading this and saying, "Hey Skippy, that won't change things in my house."  I wold be the the first to agree that it won't change things overnight, but, how can we ask anyone to believe we are committed to something we aren't able to do ourselves.

We have to walk the talk.  It empowers us.  It shows leadership to others.

Our values is not conditional - if we truly believe them - we live them in all types of "weather".

Good mental health takes strength.

Skippy
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« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2009, 01:11:51 PM »

Just wanted to pop in here to commend you for such a great workshop here on values and boundaries.

For many loved ones of those with BPD or BPD/NPD and so forth, identifying needed boundaries and limits, learning to implement and up-hold them is so difficult but is also equally so very important to their own well-being.

Great job!
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« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2010, 05:31:20 AM »

this is a really great thread, thanks.  I have learnt so much from this one and I think is going to help me alot.  

I've putting far to much emphasis on communicating my boundaries with my gf, when really it needs to be more about my values / boundaries.

Is there a fine line between being selfish and having healthy boundaries?  Is it possible to quantify or define selfishness?  Is there a way to check that boundaries we set are fair?   I am not that self confident, but my close friends say I am the most unselfish person, i just find it so hard when my gf thinks I am selfish and I am a sucker for giving in to this.

peace!

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« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2010, 02:14:44 PM »

Is there a fine line between being selfish and having healthy boundaries?  Is it possible to quantify or define selfishness?  Is there a way to check that boundaries we set are fair?   I am not that self confident, but my close friends say I am the most unselfish person, i just find it so hard when my gf thinks I am selfish and I am a sucker for giving in to this.

Code:


you-->your non negotiable stuff---->! your negotiable stuff ---->up for + grabs<---BPD negotiable stuff<---BPDs non negotiable stuff<---BPD

normal view whereis fair:           !          <------------------------+------------------------>

non view of where is fair:          !<--------------------------------->+

BPD view of where is fair:         <!-------------------------          +



There is a concept called healthy self interest. Society and business rely on it. And it is not a simple concept to grasp for a non. And the truth is there is no fine line but a range. And it is fair to push for your interest to be taken into account. The system depends on each party pushing with some effort in its own interest. The system does not work when one party does the work for both parties. The "fair" point is found in a discussion, negotiation or fight.

In this sense the BPD is healthy as taking care of own interests is not a problem. The issue comes with a tendency to push too far and destroy the other side due to the lack of respect for boundaries.
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« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2010, 10:18:57 AM »

Limits without consequences is nagging.  It is about human nature and the fact that human beings tend to repeat actions that are rewarding and avoid actions that are unpleasant.

Randi, I'm not sure I agree.

pwBPD are dependent on the compliance of others. They resist boundaries defense in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate.

We don't want to do the same.  

As "nons" we sometimes use boundaries enforcement in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate too.  For example, we might be tempted to tell our pwBPD, "hit_, you can NOT rage at me", or "hit_, you can NOT say cruel things to me."

These aren't healthy examples of boundary defense, these are examples of a "nons" effort to control their pwBPD's behavior.  

Healthy boundary defense is, "hit_, when you rage at me, I feel threatened.  I am going to leave (the room, the house, etc) until such time we can communicate calmly."  Your borderline is free to rage to his/her heart's content, but you don't have to sit there and suck up all their anger and rage.  

If you are saying to yourself, "Why should I have to leave the room?  They should have to stop raging!", you are looking at boundary defense backwards.  You are taking the same approach as one would take who says, "Oh no, my house is on fire and is engulfed in flames.  I'm standing at the front door but I'm not going to leave the house because my new sprinkling system will turn on an put out the flames."   Are you waiting for someone or something else to make a move so you don't have to?  Are you willing to take a chance of getting burned?  :)on't do it.

Boundary defense is all around us.  We come across them every day.  Cars have theft-deterrent devices to prevent someone from stealing your car.  Homes have deadbolts or locks to prevent someone else from invading your home and removing your possessions.  Your office desk has a lock to prevent theft.  Your locker at the club has a lock to keep your valuables safe.  If your personal property is protected against theft, but you find yourself feeling like your emotional well-being is being stolen from you, then it's time to take steps to learn how to set boundaries so that your emotional wellbeing can be kept under lock and key.

Think about it. We go to a lot of effort and spend a lot of money to protect our material possessions, yet we often do little to protect ourselves.  Aren't you worth more than all of your possessions?

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« Reply #21 on: June 10, 2010, 05:46:14 AM »

i never really looked at a lack of personal boundaries as self hatred as   Gay Matheson and Dean Del Giudice do (see below).  i can see it more as self worthlessness.  how do we convince ourselves that we are worth something when our parents and sometimes partners have convinced us that we aren't?  we can go through all the process of putting the boundaries in place and how to do it, but we don't cover the motivation we need to put these boundaries in place it has no foundation.  how do we convince ourselves that we are worth boundaries?  

Characteristics of a Healthy Intimate Relationship

The goal in an intimate relationship is to feel calm, centered and focused. The intimacy needs to be safe, supportive, respectful, nonpunitive and peaceful. You feel taken care of, wanted, unconditionally accepted and loved just for existing and being alive in a healthy intimate relationship. You feel part of something and not alone in such a relationship. You experience forgiving and being forgiven with little revenge or reminding of past offenses. You find yourself giving thanks for just being alive in this relationship. A healthy intimate relationship has a sense of directedness with plan and order. You experience being free to be who you are rather than who you think you need to be for the other. This relationship makes you free from the "paralysis of analysis" needing to analyze every minute detail of what goes on in it. An intimate relationship has its priorities in order, with people's feelings and process of the relationship coming before things and money. A healthy intimate relationship encourages your personal growth and supports your individuality. This relationship does not result in you or your relationship partner becoming emotionally, physically or intellectually dependent on one another. An intimate relationship encourages the spiritual growth of both relationship partners[/color]

and... .

So, considering that boundaries have a core purpose in civilization, an individual’s lack of personal, psychological boundaries isn’t really a true lack—at least, it’s not a lack in the philosophical sense of something “missing.” Instead, this apparent lack is really a refusal to defend one’s own dignity. And it’s a refusal based on hatred. That’s right. Hatred: a hatred of the self that results from living always in fear because of having been abused as a child. Unable to make sense of senseless abuse, a child, using the full effort of imperfect childhood logic, arrives at the only “logical” conclusion: “It must be my fault. I’m just a worthless person. I deserve condemnation.” And there you have it: self-hatred engendered by fear that is engendered by abuse.

Now, if you didn’t hate yourself, you would be able to take proper care of yourself—and that includes having healthy boundaries to protect your dignity. And if you had healthy boundaries to protect your dignity, you could, like in the example of the oxygen mask, take proper care of others. And taking proper care of others is an aspect of love.

To re-establish healthy boundaries, then, endeavor to stop refusing to defend boundaries. You can do this simply by starting to refuse to hate—and that includes refusing to hate yourself.

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« Reply #22 on: June 10, 2010, 12:11:40 PM »

i never really looked at a lack of personal boundaries as self hatred.  i can see it more as self worthlessness.  how do we convince ourselves that we are worth something when our parents and sometimes partners have convinced us that we aren't?  we can go through all the process of putting the boundaries in place and how to do it, but we don't cover the motivation we need to put these boundaries in place it has no foundation.  how do we convince ourselves that we are worth boundaries?  

How to raise your self-esteem really has a lot to do with where you start out. Did you always have low SE? Did it start with your relationship? What's behind it? This is a topic all in itself. A book that was recommended to me but I haven't really looked at yet is this one:amazon.com/Breaking-Chain-Self-Esteem-Marilyn-Sorensen
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« Reply #23 on: June 10, 2010, 01:03:37 PM »

Thanks everyone.  Lots of really interesting information here!  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

This article is a charterization of what it feels like when we have really weak values.  :)o you see yourself in any of this?

 POLL: Five Warning Signs Of Unhealthy Boundaries - Steve Safigan

Jun 29, 2010 ... ."Boundaries are one of the most critical components for establishing healthy ... .Establishing boundaries is a sign of self-respect and ultimately ... .

bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=122547.0

If you've been living with unhealthy or nonexistent values boundaries for most of your life, you may struggle to recognize whether your boundaries are healthy. Here are 5 warning signs for which to watch:

You feel like you are covering something up or keeping a secret. Not only is this a sign that your boundaries are unhealthy, but it's also likely that you are enabling another person to engage in unhealthy or unproductive behavior. A classic, dramatic example is a woman who hides the physical abuse she suffers at her spouse's hands by making up stories about how she bruised herself by falling down or running into a doorway. Yet secrets can be much more mundane. For example, you might tell your neighbor that you're cleaning your teenage son's room because he's been so busy with school and athletics, when in fact, he refuses to clean and you've decided it's less stressful to do the work yourself.

You have to do something a certain way or modify your behavior so that someone else can continue an unproductive or unsafe behavior. For example, you must regularly work late and miss family obligations because a co-worker keeps missing her deadlines. Or you can't turn on the television to watch your favorite morning news program because your husband is hung over after yet another late night carousing with friends at the local bar.

By modifying your behavior, you become an enabler -- you make it possible for someone else to continue a negative behavior. Instead, you should establish and maintain your boundary. Doing so will cause the other person discomfort, perhaps enough that he or she would be motivated to examine and change the unproductive behavior.

You ignore your own discomfort, anger, anxiety or fear so that someone else can be happy and comfortable. For example, when your partner yells at you, do you request her to not yell at you and offer to talk when emotions aren't as heated, or do you bite your tongue, figuring that it's easier to swallow your anger at being treated disrespectfully vs. possibly angering her even more? Anger, anxiety, fear and other uncomfortable emotions are hard-wired into human beings to help us recognize when our boundaries are being violated. Ignoring your own uncomfortable emotions sends a signal -- to yourself and to others -- that you don't respect yourself. It may work as a short-term strategy for avoiding conflict. But ultimately, it will lead to bigger problems.

You sacrifice your own goals, projects and self-care to help others. The root cause of boundary issues is fear. When you have a hard time saying "no," it's typically because you fear losing something, such as approval, status, friendship, future opportunities and the like. If you've reached the point of being resentful when people ask you to do things for them -- even if they are things that should bring you joy -- your boundaries are unhealthy and need to be toughened up.

You manipulate to get what you want. This warning sign will resonate with you if you regularly push or violate other people's boundaries -- that is, if you can be honest enough to admit it to yourself.

Manipulation comes in many forms. For instance, you might try getting others to feel guilty for not meeting your demands, such as the mother who tries to make her daughter feel bad for not coming home for the holidays. In some instances, you might find yourself flat-out telling others that they are responsible for you, your results and/or your feelings, such as the emotionally abusive spouse who says he wouldn't have to yell if his wife wouldn't make him so angry. You might also find yourself pouting or having a tantrum because you don't get what you want or repeatedly bugging someone to give you want you want, even after they say no. You may even ridicule or shame others who attempt setting a boundary; after all, if they don't like your behavior, it's their problem.

If you regularly crash boundaries, it's likely that you don't have many meaningful relationships. The people in your life have a hard time trusting you, because you choose to manipulate rather than treating them with love and respect. It's also likely that you've been told more than once -- and perhaps even can admit to yourself -- that you tend to be loud, obnoxious, pushy, rude or, on the flip side, quiet but passively aggressive.

Admitting that you are a boundary violator is difficult. It's difficult to admit to things we don't like to see. It's difficult to admit that we're afraid that we won't get what we want. And it's difficult to believe that you're valuable enough that other people will love and care for you on their own, without you demanding the attention.

The realization that you are a boundary violator often brings up shame and guilt. You know that you haven't treated people with respect, trust and kindness -- the same way you'd like to be treated.

But being a boundary violator is not something to feel ashamed of, nor is having weak boundaries something about which you should be embarrassed. It's simply the way that you learned to do life. You can change -- if you want to. The first, and often hardest, step is admitting that you have boundary issues. Admitting the problem opens space to learn healthier ways to respond to the fears in your life."

Additional resources:

   

 Boundaries Tools of Respect - Phillip S. Mitchell, M.A., MFT (CA), MAC

One of the commonalities of codependent behaviors is the lack of healthy personal boundaries. With various types of dysfunction within our families of origin, ... .

bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a120.htm
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« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2010, 12:38:44 PM »

Trust is critical to all relationships. And most of the time, non-BPs are people who have stopped trusting themselves and their own beliefs, values, and reactions. Before you can really be successful setting boundaries that stick, you need to start trusting yourself. I’m going to talk about that a bit. Does wanting to go on a vacation with just your husband, and not his extended family, qualify as abuse? It does according to Ralph, says his non-BP wife, Marsha. She says: “When I asked him if we could go somewhere by ourselves, he got upset and said, ‘You know how much my family means to me. Why do you do this to me? I can’t believe that you’re abusing me like this!’“After a while of him saying this again and again, I began to question myself. It took such a toll on me I started going to counseling. I told the counselor, “Either I’m living with somebody who is very out of control, or I just don’t see myself correctly. I need to figure out which of those it is.”When someone constantly undermines what you know or believe about yourself, the faith you have in yourself starts to shake. A type of “brainwashing” takes place. The techniques of brainwashing are simple: isolate the victim, expose them to consistent messages, mix with sleep deprivation, add some form of abuse, get the person to doubt what they know and feel, keep them on their toes, wear them down, and stir well. This is one reason why this board is so important: VALIDATION.As we get validated and start to move to the next steps of getting control over our life, we need to start some self examination. Once we learn BPD triggers, we need to look at our own. Being called "selfish" is usually (but not always) a non-BP trigger.  When they start setting limits, nearly every family member gets called selfish and controlling. This turns into a major non-BP trigger. Once you know your triggers, it’s time to take a look at how they’re preventing you from getting what you really want out of life. The word selfish is loathsome for most non-BPs. Sometimes, they gain self-worth from being needed and making sacrifices and being called “selfish” is the worst crime imaginable. They’ve learned, “When in doubt, don’t disagree, don’t have needs, don’t have opinions, and, above all, never say ‘no.’” You have the right to your own beliefs, even if they are different from your family member’s. You have the right to make mistakes, to act illogically, and to not have to explain yourself. You also have the right to like yourself even though you’re not perfect. In the book,  I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better.  “Who you are is who you choose to be. When you have a strong belief system based on what you’ve learned, studied, and experienced, then you have developed a model of life that is used to evaluate everything you come into contact with. You can hear another viewpoint and evaluate it on its merits and ask the question, ‘Is this right for me?’ Because you are comfortable with yourself and your own value system, you can listen and learn, and accept or reject what other people say or do.”Randi
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« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2011, 09:16:52 AM »

In the book I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better, the authors, Gary and Joy Lundberg, use this model:

BOUNDARIES = Your value system in action


In other words, where you set a limit for yourself is exactly where your values tell you your limit is.

We can also turn the formulation around:



YOUR VALUE SYSTEM IN ACTION = Boundaries



So if you repeatedly allow your mother to scream at you on the phone as in an example described in the discussion of this article Article: Family Systems (and yes, she is very wrong to do so), your values are actually this: It's okay for someone to scream at me. I'm not worth protecting myself from abuse. My mother's needs are more important than my own emotional safety.

I have collected some case studies here that may be helpful:

 BOUNDARIES: Case studies

B&W

PS: Another resource is this video:

 Stop Walking on Eggshells: Secrets of Limit Setting - Randi Kreger ... .

Alert icon. Uploaded by NEABPD on Nov 22, 2011. Family Perspectives on Borderline Personality Disorder ... .

www.youtube.com/watch?v=85_eYftuv0k   Nov 22, 2011 - 41 min
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« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2012, 12:33:09 AM »

As "nons" we sometimes use boundaries enforcement in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate too.  For example, we might be tempted to tell our pwBPD, "hit_, you can NOT rage at me", or "hit_, you can NOT say cruel things to me."

These aren't healthy examples of boundary defense, these are examples of a "nons" effort to control their pwBPD's behavior.  

Healthy boundary defense is, "hit_, when you rage at me, I feel threatened.  I am going to leave (the room, the house, etc) until such time we can communicate calmly."  Your borderline is free to rage to his/her heart's content, but you don't have to sit there and suck up all their anger and rage.  

I am wondering about setting boundaries, or boundary defense. When telling the pwBPD what your boundary is, do you always need to tell them at that time what the consequences of crossing the boundary will be?  

Is it always, "I will not tolerate X, and if you do it, then Y will happen"? Or can you just tell them, and then the consequence comes later and you say "This is because you did X" ? Or some other way?
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« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2012, 08:22:35 AM »

It is important to know that this verbal communication primarily reaches the rational part of the receiver and won't make much difference when the person becomes dysregulated. So telling a person one will leave if being yelled at will have little effect when the person is angry. But actual leaving will get noticed and helps. And having given a fair understanding in advance in a non-threatening way will help to manage the feelings after everyone has cooled down.

Communicating values (and boundary limits) should happen in advance and a communication pattern like "S.E.T." with "Truth"="boundary limit" are useful.

A boundary is a commitment to yourself to stick to certain values. But when it comes to communicating a value - the question is what do you want to achieve?  Is it about helping the other party understand you? Is it about how you are changing from the past - being more committed to your values?  Is it about reinforcing your values after a difficult event?
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« Reply #28 on: January 30, 2012, 01:54:30 PM »

I absolutely believe in our need and individual right to protect our core values - however, for those who love your SOs and want to have healthy, trusting, intimate relationships with them, be very careful in how you do this. Boundary enforcement can be confrontational, even destructive, if misused, misinterpreted, or poorly executed - all of which seems to be very common mistakes in many high conflict relationships.

Conflict in a relationship is often a repeat of the same arguments over and over. If your value is to have peace in the relationship, than I believe a mindful (and peaceful) exploration of the reasons you both react to your individual triggers, as well as learning how to control those reactions, and eliminate the fears that cause them, is a much better way to uphold this value than unilaterally making ultimatums with consequences.

Some of the hallmarks of BPD are insecurity, guilt, depression, fear, anger, etc. - all of which can be activated when we nons draw lines in the sand, whereas love, compassion, acceptance, and empathy can defuse these triggers, set a good example for better behaviors, and pave the way to reconnect, and regain mutual trust. Now you can just have loving 'understandings' and cooperation to give each other the things you each need.

One of the most important reasons for my improved marriage is me awakening to my own personality traits that exacerbated my wife's dysregulation and created similar problems for others. I hadn't realized these things about myself, only because most self-confident secure people can let these things slide, or don't want to hurt your feelings by correcting you, so you don't usually get the negative reactions to your own behavior like you do from your emotionally sensitive SO. Mindful thinking caused this awakening, but only after a lot of study, practice and persistence. The concept is easy to understand - putting it into practice is extremely difficult. You have to suspend all your beliefs and judgments in order to realize your own need for personal change, and that is very hard to do. Our attitudes are part of who we are - so ripping some of them to shreds is probably the hardest thing you will ever have to do.

I have come to believe that BPD is primarily the skewed reality and resulting extreme lack of emotional control exhibited by very sensitive people who have  probably been treated badly early in life, or had  traumatic experiences which damaged their ability to fully trust people in general, leaving them extremely fearful and on guard. Their dysregulation episodes are fight, flight or freeze defense mechanisms that should be responded to with loving, empathetic, care and compassion. I believe boundary enforcement is very misunderstood, used prematurely, and misused by a lot of people on this site - I used to be one of them.  

After twenty years of fighting and misery with my diagnosed BPD wife - I discovered the benefits of DBT in the book   High Conflict Couple - highly recommended on this site - a year ago. My wife and I studied this book together - as well as many others on the subject -and applied it's principles of loving acceptance and mindfulness.

Our trust and respect for each other has improved dramatically. Our lives turned around and we are really a loving team now, working together to improve all our relationships.

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« Reply #29 on: February 11, 2012, 07:31:28 PM »

Can someone give me an example of a boundary they've put in place that has worked? Possibly with the consequences they used?
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« Reply #30 on: February 12, 2012, 03:08:06 PM »

Hello mili24,

why be content with one example? Here is a whole currently actively moderated workshop thread:    

  Examples of defending boundaries.

I know it is not on your home board but feel free to join in.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Possibly with the consequences they used?

Limits and consequences and costs are for us. This ensures that boundaries are under our control and are not controlling the pwBPD. This usually is coming with some - limited - pain for us. But that also makes them so powerful.
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« Reply #31 on: February 23, 2012, 07:26:49 PM »

I came across this gem about setting personal boundaries and staying true to them. It really resonated to me and I wanted to share it.

Excerpt
Carl Rogers (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Rogers) has openly described the effects of what he called: 'an incredibly lengthy, poorly handled therapeutic relationship which I had with a severely schizophrenic girl... .I got to the point where I could not separate my "self" from hers. I literally lost my "self", lost the boundaries of myself... .and I became convinced (and I think with some reason) that I was going insane'.

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« Reply #32 on: February 23, 2012, 09:04:46 PM »

Well, as a person of faith, I held to certain convictions regarding my behaviour and while my ex had initially agreed (or he said he did), he later told me that these boundaries would have to move or he would end the relationship.  I let him.  I'm not sorry.

I miss him, of course, but I think those boundaries saved me from a lifetime of utter hell, poor fellow.  I don't mean that to sound condescending... .I know it does, but that's not my problem.  I do feel sorry for him, I think he loved me as much as he was able.
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« Reply #33 on: February 24, 2012, 02:49:56 AM »

In the aftermath of my relationship with exBPD, I have come to realize that my biggest problem in connection to setting boundaries has been how much I valued always wanting everybody to like me. I got depressed, anxious, sleepless and blamed myself, if for some reason someone showed signs of not liking me or a decision that I made, and my instinct has always been to go to almost any length to remedy the situation to get on their good side again. I have always been extremely sensitive towards criticism, not being able to differ between, for instance, professional criticism and personal criticism. My co-worker asked if we could change a paragraph in the report I wrote? He hates me and I am horrible!

My meeting with exBPD coincided with that I became head of an organization - on one hand, this was my dream job, because the work was so interesting, on the other hand, it was extremely tough on me, because as the head you of course cannot avoid having to make decisions that some people will not like. I remember the first time I had to fire someone... .my god, I did not sleep for a week. Even though the firing was entirely justified by every means, I still felt that I was in the wrong, because she, of course, became mad and sad.

I think that initially my relationship with exBPD was an attempt to escape these emotions of mine in connection with my new job - by her, I would be loved unconditionally, never doubted, never criticized - she was to be my "safe zone." As we all know, this did not last - when the waify side of her surfaced, I almost wore myself out trying to please her, appease her, be everything she could possibly need. But a pwBPD always needs more, of course - and when SHE, my savior from my uncomfortable feelings, then started to criticize me, I was on the verge of breaking.

I have changed much since then, especially by dealing with FOO issues. I am still sensitive to criticism, but I feel that I have gotten a lot better at realizing that it's not my job to make everyone happy. It sounds so simple, but this has really been major for me to realize, so I would say that claiming the right to make my own decisions based on what I think and feel is right for me has been a boundary I have definitely set to a much larger degree than before and it definitely helps me a lot every day.

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Randi Kreger
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« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2012, 07:06:02 AM »

this is a really great thread, thanks.  I have learnt so much from this one and I think is going to help me alot.  I've putting far to much emphasis on communicating my boundaries with my gf, when really it needs to be more about my values / boundaries.Is there a fine line between being selfish and having healthy boundaries?  Is it possible to quantify or define selfishness?  Is there a way to check that boundaries we set are fair?   I am not that self confident, but my close friends say I am the most unselfish person, i just find it so hard when my gf thinks I am selfish and I am a sucker for giving in to this. peace!

Being called "selfish" is a projection and a great sign that you're getting it right and doing great.
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« Reply #35 on: February 27, 2012, 01:41:35 PM »

Randi, even coming from a pwBPD, isn't being called selfish sometimes a true statement?

There are so many ways to be selfish. It would seem to me that even a generally unselfish person might have some selfish rather than loving compassionate ways of dealing with their pwBPD.

Take the example of leaving the room when our partner rages at us.  While I agree with this in some cases, I do think there are times it is being selfish.

Let me explain my thoughts on this:

We all understand that a pwBPD can dysregulate like a small child out of fear of abandonment, abuse, neglect, etc. Now if  your actual small child did this you would probably stay with them, comfort them, assure them that you love them etc. However when a supposedly intelligent loving adult SO does this, the knee-jerk reaction is to dysregulate ourselves, with a fight or flight reaction.

Does this make sense. Sometimes yes, if the SO is just being mean and nasty for no reason. Then leaving would be an understandable self-defense. The problem is, that whether dealing with an actual child or an adult SO, we often all too quickly decide that there is no reason for their rages. In truth while the rage is often triggered by something very minor, the actual rage itself may be a result of sudden memory flashes of terrible childhood abuse, or other past traumas - real, imaginary, or miss-perceived - which boil uncontrollably to the surface, and are just mistaken for mean nasty behavior.

I believe as responsible adults we need to learn the mindful thinking techniques which can enable us to listen to the carefully - not just leave the room because they are annoying, inconvenient, and or a little agressive. If a loving SO is upset at you  - pwBPD or not - they believe they have a reason to, and we need to try and find that reason, however elusive it may be, so we can better understand our SO's values, beliefs and reality. We also need to listen to our own rages - both verbal and in our minds - to gain this same understanding of ourselves.

So what is the answer - role over and just submit to codependent abuse - of course not, we definitely need to protect ourselves from unwarranted attacks, both verbal and physical. The question is how can we do this in an unselfish way?

Here is how:

First we abandon methods that don't work, and learn new ones that do work.

We need to start learning to change ourselves in ways that will help us effectively put into practice  the tools presented on this site. In order be able to implement these tools properly - including boundaries - we need to arm ourselves with more than just a cursory knowledge obtained by reading a few books and articles that mention various therapies and acronyms such as CB, DBT, ACT, SET, DEARMAN, etc. We need to really study these things and practice using them, and if they don't work at all, study harder and practice more.

Folks this is really hard life changing work if you are going to be successful. It's very devastating to learn how many things you have been doing wrong - possibly all your life - that are only causing you serious problems now because you have a super-sensitive pwBPD that reacts to every little nuance of body language, neglect, being taken for granted, grumpiness from a bad day at work and so forth. Your other friends and relatives - except for your children - don't have to live with you on a daily basis either. Also your exes, and others may have dealt with you like you have possibly been dealing with your current SO - they left the room, avoided contact, put up walls, and protected themselves by getting away from you - teenagers do this a lot.

I believe for the insecure people this is self-protection, but for the very secure ones it can be selfish.



"If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen". If you can - stay there and do some good.


I know I must seem like a pain in the rear preacher about DBT, but this East meets West therapy is one of the best methods of learning to change yourself  - in my opinion. ACT is another version of this type of therapy. The beauty is that if you can't afford therapy, these principles are presented in many books reviewed on this site, so there is no excuse not to learn them if you are serious about wanting to improve your r/s.

Bottom line. The most important change I feel you need to make in order be able to learn how to be truly empathetic with someone who is very fearful and insecure, and rages over seemingly inconsequential things, is to learn how to seriously build your own self-esteem.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever used to help build my own self-esteem, is the belief that we should not take things personally. While easier said than done, this can help you turn  nasty criticism into either healthy self-improvement - or if totally unfounded, into empathy for a 'poor misguided soul'.

Years ago I learned to use this 'poor misguided soul' thought with people who cut me off on the freeway - it calmed my own road rage.

needBPDhelp
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« Reply #36 on: February 27, 2012, 02:02:08 PM »

There's a fine line to balance.  

On one hand, we should not do anything that puts our life, liberty or property in danger, no matter how well-intentioned.  On the flip side, we do need to learn how to engage our loved ones in a helpful way so that we may understand where they are coming from and apply that knowledge wisely.  There are some things that we can reasonably avoid without much of an issue.  

I know that DBT talks about "Wise Mind" a lot.  We, as nons, need to use our Wise Mind at all times as well.
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« Reply #37 on: February 27, 2012, 03:07:03 PM »

Timing is important.  There is a significant difference when the pwBPD is regulated vs when they are not.

A healthy person has a working emotional regulation system. This means your emotions go up and then several working feedback mechanisms kick in that cool you down. Self soothing is one of them. Which requires to know that you (sense of self) are feeling something.A pwBPD has not a well really working emotional regulation system. This means when emotions go up then several feedback mechanisms kick in which are out-of-phase often make matters worse.

When pwBPD is not yet dysregulated, proper outside feedback (validation) can help with regulation and thus emotions stay within reasonable bounds.

When dysregulated our feedback is not able to help anymore. Emotions oscillate so much or are so extreme that we won't be able to provide sensible validation. At any given moment in time we are as likely to validate as we are to invalidate. Invalidation counts a lot more than validation. So we add to the mess and our well intended words and actions just feed the rage, make it worse and prolong it. Our own undirected energy is fuel into the fire.

When stepping out we let them dissipate their energy. When the pwBPD is finally exhausted

 - some self soothing may happen which is valuable long term

 - our absence ensures that emotions are not associated with us but with the person that is able to tackle them i.e. the pwBPD.

 - we are back in time, are balanced and have a plan. We now can step in and actually help.

==> less damage as the fire is not fed from two fuel tanks

==> some learning of self soothing and building of a sense of identity (check out the workshop on codependency and enmeshment)

==> quicker recovery of the partnership as one fuel tank is left intact

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« Reply #38 on: February 27, 2012, 03:56:37 PM »

In terms of selfishness, Townsend's book has a pretty good metric.  ':)o not help with the toils of daily life.'  ':)o help with burdens beyond the toils of daily life, within your capacity.' (approximate quotes)  So, driving your wife to work because she's constantly late==bad idea.  Taking care of the kids for a few nights because someone died==good idea.  The book has a lot of other similar guidelines and I highly recommend it.

I suspect that there are a lot of different R/S and BPDs involved in them - and appropriate approaches vary a lot.  I really don't know enough to generalize... .but I'll try anyways.

Some of the BPDs on this site seem to be very emotionally sensitive.  For those BPDs, abandonment/leaving, while often appropriate, should probably be approached with caution and their emotions are strong enough that standard coping mechanisms may not suffice. Validation probably works well here.

Some BPDs on this site seem to be less sensitive - but have very few emotional tools and/or mostly abusive ones.  For those BPDs, boundaries seem to work pretty well.

Some nons are pretty invalidating and tend to stoke the fires. Those nons should probably consider starting with validation and mindfulness.

Some nons are fairly validating and have very weak boundaries. Those nons should probably consider starting with boundaries.

(and, well, mindfulness and acceptance mostly seem to be universally applicable)

From my observations, people who start with boundaries would usually be better off with validation and vice-versa.  This isn't a problem if those people keep on trying different stuff when something doesn't work.

Depending on the situation, concentrating on any particular tool can be appropriate.  I do believe that trying every tool a bit and focusing on the most effective ones is a pretty reliable method. Smiling (click to insert in post) Mind you, persistence with boundaries is important.

F'r instance, with my wife (who skews towards the abusive/insensitive end of the spectrum), I found that, when she's genuinely upset, staying a bit - even if she is being mildly abusive because of out of control  emotions - works better than abandoning her and coming back after she's calmed down.  Poor boundary? Maybe.  But, if someone is in extreme emotional pain, I'm willing to tend to them even if they are a bit unpleasant.

That said, if she's persistently abusive - particularly when attempting to control my behavior - 'Bye, I'll be back in  a few hours/tomorrow.' - works better.  The difference is that... .this sort of dysfunctional coping tends to reinforce itself if tolerated and the cost of tolerating anything along these lines if very high.

(Please correct me on this if I'm wrong... .) I suspect that need comes from a R/S with a highly sensitive BPD who wasn't particularly abusive and that he tended to fuel the fires a lot. For that situation, boundaries aren't high priority.  For others (argyle), they are absolutely vital.

--Argyle
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« Reply #39 on: February 28, 2012, 08:07:07 AM »

When someone with BPD has a problem--any problem that causes anything from anxiety and slight depression to full out raging or suicide attempts, there is a stage when intervention by a family member (FM) can be helpful and a stage when the FM can no longer be helpful. When someone with BPD is upset, they can be very emotionally upset. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being high, when someone is 5 and under DBT teaches parents how to problem solve. And make no mistake, family DBT is for the non.  Once it gets to 6 or more, the pwBPD's emotional dysregulation makes it impossible to problem solve. At that point, the lower-functioning, conventional pwBP becomes suicidal and self harms. FMs are told to GET HELP and call professionals, therapists, take the person to the hospital, etc.
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« Reply #40 on: February 28, 2012, 11:28:00 AM »

According to Nina Brown,[5] there are four types of psychological boundary defenses:

Soft - A person with soft boundaries merges with other people's boundaries. Someone with a soft boundary is easily manipulated.

Spongy - A person with spongy boundaries is like a combination of having soft and rigid boundaries. They permit less emotional contagion than soft boundaries but more than rigid. People with spongy boundaries are unsure of what to let in and what to keep out.

Rigid - A person with rigid boundaries is closed or walled off so nobody can get close to him/her either physically or emotionally. This is often the case if someone has been physically, emotionally, psychologically or sexually abused. Rigid boundaries can be selective which depend on time, place or circumstances and are usually based on a bad previous experience in a similar situation.

Flexible - This is the ideal. Similar to selective rigid boundaries but the person has more control. The person decides what to let in and what to keep out, is resistant to emotional contagion, manipulation and is difficult to exploit.
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« Reply #41 on: February 28, 2012, 12:04:46 PM »

One part of "mindfulness" regarding value/ boundary defense is considering the harm that boundary defense does to other people.  

Another part is considering the harm that lack of that boundary does to other people.

For physical abuse, fairly inflexible boundaries are a good idea.  The same goes for verbal abuse.

I suspect that choosing a default behavior and a fallback based on whether your BPD is inward (self-abuse) or outward acting may make sense.

Inward:  validation, problem-solving -> boundaries

Outward: boundaries -> validation, problem-solving

I could be completely wrong, but... .sometimes putting myself first seems to be the wrong thing to do. The problem I see is that - every time I leave - BPDw feels a lot of pain and is strongly discouraged from doing whatever she'd just done.  Since I usually leave when she's being obnoxious... .that's usually okay.

But, if she's genuinely trying to communicate a real issue in an high conflict way - hearing her out seems to work better.* S'not that I'm obligated to do so, just that there's enough decrease in her suffering to more than counteract the increase in mine and, for now, the costs to me from significantly wider channels of communication outweigh the issues from tolerating occasional verbal abuse. Mind you, there's some enabling going on.  But, I dunno, I also enable a bit when I help a friend get out of his wheelchair and up the stairs.

Mind you, my long-term plan involves tolerating a lot less of that sort of behavior. I hope that this post is on topic - not really sure.

--Argyle

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« Reply #42 on: March 03, 2012, 08:39:14 AM »

But, if she's genuinely trying to communicate a real issue in an high conflict way - hearing her out seems to work better.* S'not that I'm obligated to do so, just that there's enough decrease in her suffering to more than counteract the increase in mine and, for now, the costs to me from significantly wider channels of communication outweigh the issues from tolerating occasional verbal abuse. Mind you, there's some enabling going on.  But, I dunno, I also enable a bit when I help a friend get out of his wheelchair and up the stairs.

You are also "caretaking" her emotions, rather than taking care - meaning you are managing her emotions when this is her job to learn. I could not have come so far in my recovery if I had continue to "outsource" my emotions or hold other people responsible for making me feel better.

Also, enabling is doing for someone what they can do for themselves and is driven more by what you need to do for yourself than the other person. Do you feel the need to be seen as a "good, helping person"? Does it lower your anxiety when you help? I would argue this is a fundamentally selfish place to offer help from and that most sensitive pwBPD will recognize the self-servingness of this stance and will resent you for it. I am perhaps projecting in this part of my post, since this aptly describes my mother, so please excuse me if I'm reading into your behavior stuff that isn't there. My well-meaning basically good-hearted mom did more harm than good by enabling my dysfunctional behavior (she did it through excuses and only when I learned to stop making them for myself could I grow).

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« Reply #43 on: March 09, 2012, 07:40:17 PM »

Skip

I am so glad I found this.  I have many questions about boundaries.

First, boundaries seem cruel, like punishments.  I know they are supposed to be about protecting us from abuse.  However, for a boundary to work there must be consequences.  We all know that the person pwBPD in our lives will cross and likely trounce all over our boundaries.  That is when the consequence enters.  It is the consequence that feels like a punishment.  When that happens the pwBPD in your life may implement their own counter-consequences and pretty soon it looks like a game of tit-for-tat.

A common consequence is a timeout.  When that happens, my spouse follows me with more abusive words.  Then gives me the silent treatment or gets short with me often using sarcasm.  She says I am being abusive for giving her the silent treatment when actually, I am hurt because of her abusive projections.

My counselor says consequences should be the natural result of the offense.  Example:You lend your car to your friend, an alcoholic.  He gets into an accident while drunk.  Consequence: you never lend him your car again.
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« Reply #44 on: March 10, 2012, 03:13:03 AM »

This has been a very interesting thread to read. It was me trying to clearly state my boundaries on one occasion that (probably) led to the breakdown of the relationship.

He could be very critical of me, sometimes to the point of ranting at me and getting angry, it was upsetting and unpleasant at times and it led me to wonder what it was he even liked about me. I would never say to other people the stuff he would often say to me. (I can enjoy banter, teasing etc but there are limits.) It got to the point where, when I was due to meet him one time I was feeling very anxious about what would happen and how he would be. So I wrote him a message cancelling the meet up, and explaining my anxieties and feelings about his criticism/anger.

This really backfired and I can see that I picked a bad time to do it, and probably a bad method too.

My message was very calm and gave positives, e.g. how much I liked him, reassured him that I still wanted to see him etc, but also said that I didn't find the criticism pleasant. I don't think the positive things got heard at all.

He accused me of thinking he was a horrible person, that I made him feel worthless, and so on. He threatened that he never wanted to see me again. It felt like I had really badly hurt him. I was shocked and got very worried that he would do something bad to himself.

I had to essentially work on him a lot to get him to want to see me again. But then he started saying he couldn't 'be himself' with me, because of what I'd said. Despite me saying numerous times that I wanted him to be himself, just could he please think about the way he spoke to me sometimes, etc. He started saying he thought the relationship had been ruined and spoiled. That I don't understand him and never had.

Anyway he ended up finally rejecting me and citing this as one of the reasons. It's made me blame myself and added to the pain and depression that I feel from the rejection. I have trouble clearly stating boundaries as I don't want to lose people, so I don't always do it in the best way, but reactions like his don't make it any easier.

CB
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« Reply #45 on: March 13, 2012, 07:42:17 AM »

Wow.  I needed this today.  Thanks to all!

I was finally able to set boundaries and leave my emotionally abusive marriage... .was able to set boundaries with my young adult children about their behavior in my house (although this is an ongoing thing to keep enforcing those boundaries.)  I thought I had made so much progress regarding setting boundaries to deal with my old, codependent tendencies.  

But now I am in a new romantic relationship and struggling with boundaries in a new and different way.  Letting someone in much closer - poses new problems (or maybe I should say new opportunities for personal growth.)  I realized that I am struggling with fears of abandonment and accompanying anxiety myself!  (I was not like this prior to my 25 year marriage to an uBPDh.  I should add that when any of my young adult kids or ex starts to escalate - when my kids do this in my house and won't respect my boundaries, openly defying me and I must insist that they leave, my anxiety goes off the charts - almost like PTSD.  Not sure why this triggers me so badly except that there has been so much trauma in our family.)

Also, sometimes I don't feel a boundary has been violated until after the fact - often the next day.  I feel I have a delayed sense regarding that and I'm not sure why.  Can anyone speak to this?  Both the delayed realization when I allow someone to cross my boundaries, as well as how to set healthier boundaries in a much closer relationship?  (The person I am in a relationship with is kind, loving, sensitive, caring, committed to me, etc. - no BPD fears there.)

Many thanks!

Picturelady

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« Reply #46 on: March 28, 2012, 07:25:23 AM »

It is important to distinguish communicating our boundaries which is often helpful and valid. Letting others know where our toes are helps them to avoid stepping on them. It also lets them better understand when we take a step back - we protect our toes and we are not getting into a position to draw a gun.

Defending boundaries is then a lot more about our behavior and us sticking to our values. Like in: I will take steps backward and even leave stuff behind if an out of control elephant is getting closer than 6 feet and wants to dance with me. I do value my toes!

Letting someone getting closer requires trust. Trust builds over time. It is a process where you ceed some control and can observe tho others behavior. Relinquishing control in a controlled manner requires a less b&w approach to friend or foe or how close we let others get to us. It requires to think about what we allow now (e.g. being kissed) and how we protect the next boundary (hand key to safe and btw. the money is uncounted in there).
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« Reply #47 on: March 28, 2012, 07:43:52 AM »

Letting someone getting closer requires trust. Trust builds over time. It is a process where you ceed some control and can observe tho others behavior. Relinquishing control in a controlled manner requires a less b&w approach to friend or foe or how close we let others get to us. It requires to think about what we allow now (e.g. being kissed) and how we protect the next boundary (hand key to safe and btw. the money is uncounted in there).

Great - thank you so much!  You hit the nail on the head regarding trust!   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #48 on: April 03, 2012, 05:48:49 PM »

I have been really aware lately of how much of what is hard for me about dealing with my husband's BPDex and the way she impacts the kids and our family is about a core value difference, and the way that I find myself not acting in concert with my values---if feels like being in a family with her is a profound influence away from my values. 

I have a core value in viewing life as being okay just as is, and people as okay just as is.  That there is not good and bad, just cause and effect.  BPDex is very consistent in her naming things as bad and wrong, and her labeling of people as better or worse.  She is obsessed with whether she is a "good person," and is constantly wanting to know if people love her more than others.  This black and white thinking is very oppressive for me, particularly when it comes with consequences--calls to CPS for no reason, threats of various kinds, constant anger. 

While I value supporting people to be who they are, I also come from a culture that is ready to judge people, ready to create black and white categories.  I judge people, blame people, and judge and blame myself, even when I work on not doing this.  Over my life, I have learned that I am happier and act more consistent with my values when I have a core of people around me who also share my values.  I find BPDex to be very powerful in our lives because of her influence on the kids, who live with us half of the time, and because of her power in forming our schedule and basic choices.  In sum, we have to interact with her in some way, and we interact with her second-hand through the kids.  I find it really hard to hear blame and projection and rage on a regular basis and not be more of that myself.  Because of my values, it is very hard on me when I experience myself as blaming.  Not that I think I am a bad person, just that I see that I am hurting others. 

I think that BPDex uses blame and rage and projection because she was profoundly disempowered and abused as a child.  Raging and blaming and being emotionally out of control does give some power in a short term way.  The problem is that what it empowers is not always what we most desire.  If I want to feel love and belonging, but am feeling threatened and hurt, raging might make someone stop threatening me and afraid to hurt me, but it will not be likely to result in them loving me.  I think it is natural to engage in black/white thinking when we are scared, and I think that BPD ex sort of got stuck in that mode because things were so rarely safe, or so unpredictably safe, during her childhood.  But LIKE BPDex, when I experience being threatened by her or the kids, I am scared and I have slowly felt more like rejecting her, making her wrong.  This is less of an intellectual thing, more a visceral reaction.  I just want her to go away and stop harming me. 

I do a lot of work to keep myself open, to be okay with what is.  But the reality is that this last few years has been one of the most painful and frightening times in my life.  I have not had a lot of trauma in my life, so this feels huge even if it is mild compared to the experience of some. 

But I think the thing that is most challenging is my building intolerance, which often grows out of me feeling depleted and exhausted, and being graceless in setting boundaries, or having a great deal of pressure on my to shift my boundaries. 
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« Reply #49 on: April 04, 2012, 04:54:10 AM »

But I think the thing that is most challenging is my building intolerance, which often grows out of me feeling depleted and exhausted, and being graceless in setting boundaries, or having a great deal of pressure on my to shift my boundaries.  

I think I can relate to this somewhat ... .I can't quite believe how many "I never envisioned being in this sort of situation" moments have come from relating to my wife!

Thing is ... .it's a lot easier to "gracefully" handle an out of control kitten, than it is to handle an out of control elephant.   Sometimes life just throws stuff at us that needs to be just handled - and "gracefully" isn't always one of the choices  

In short, I've had to learn not to worry about whether I exhibit courtly manners, when I'm being mugged  Smiling (click to insert in post)

(no, not comparing pwBPD to muggers, just saying the situation sometimes calls for blunt measures)
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« Reply #50 on: April 04, 2012, 10:24:28 AM »

I do not feel bad about not employing courtly manners... .I am just making that point that it is inconsistent with my values, so it is particularly hard.  My life has been spent earnestly attempting to give people a voice who make it hard for others to do this.  I volunteer with homeless people, have worked with mentally ill people, serve as a mediator in very difficult situations.  I do not need muggers not to be muggers. 

The way I have been able to do this without becoming entangled in others' drama is to have really good boundaries.  I say no.  I had a "client" (really, an acquaintance who relied on me for support when he was feeling like he wanted to do violent things, but wanted to stop himself).  He knew he could call me at work, but never at home, and he could never visit me in person when he was feeling violent.  He observed this boundary carefully, and I felt very safe because he was so respectful of that boundary.  I believe that through talking to me, he was able to choose not to do violence to himself or others on 2 or 3 occasions.  He eventually moved away.

Having this kind of influence in others' lives, I believe, comes from being able to respect who someone is, even if I hugely disagree with their values and practices.  I am not empowering what I do not agree with--I am empowering the relationship so that I have a chance to influence them in the direction that we both value.  For me, being able to be at peace with what is, including how my fellow people are, while still calling forth the most loving parts of who we are is one of my greatest values.  I value my influence on people like the violent person mentioned above as some of my greatest accomplishments, more important than my legislative or legal successes as an attorney, more important than publications or academic accomplishments. 

When BPDex attacked me and told me she would kill me, I told her I loved her, and she was okay with me, and she immediately stopped and hugged me, and a potentially very dangerous situation was defused.  But she cannot hold on to any of those kinds of experiences.  She just feels terribly ashamed at her behavior, and turns that into blame of everyone around her. 

I do not need BPDex to be different.  I think she is doing the best she can.  But I am not able to FEEL okay with her.  I am tired of her baloney.  Tired of all the anger and rage and upset and appearance of conflict that is just fabricated.  But because she is constantly on the attack, disengaging means that others will believe her crazy stories, and harm can come to DH, the kids, or myself, or family members.  CPS gets called; motions are made in court.  Her crazy stories have the potential to have real consequences. 

I feel like I have learned to be enormously forgiving of myself in ways I did not start out being.  The things I am most ashamed of are when I get angry of the kids.  I do not feel ashamed at being angry at BPDex, an have handled my anger at her in ways I feel are entirely appropriate.  I used to have a hard time feeling okay about my mistakes, but I have learned to just accept my mistakes, apologize, and try to do better.  I have also learned with the kids that my "appropriate" anger, when I own it and apologize for the impact on the kids, is not even necessarily hurtful to them.  And, all parents do some harm.  We do our best.  We have "do-overs" in our home---so as not to get stuck in the conflict.  So I have learned to be forgiving of the unavoidable errors I make. 

But the feeling of a values conflict does not have to do with whether I am behaving myself with the kids' mom. I am.  I have no shame there.  But I have a deep conflict.  Mainly, the conflict stems from the fact that when I am really depleted and when our family is under attack, I do not have the strength to work towards my demanding principles.  I want to, but I can't.  It is time to retreat, but there is no place to retreat unless I am not in this family.  That is really hard.  By becoming aware of this conflict in values, I can make a bigger container to hold this, and slowly allow that awareness to shape my action.  The awareness is:  I am a person who strongly values tolerance of difficult people (truthfully, and perhaps unfortunately, I value tolerance of difficult people slightly more than I value tolerance of kind people) and who strives to develop this tolerance in myself.  I am also in a situation where the amount of tolerance I need is more than I have developed at this time.  It is like I have been training for 6k runs and all of a sudden, at mile 10, I realize I am in a marathon.  What to do?  What I like about this workshop is the idea that having values leads naturally to having boundaries, that boundaries are not some set of rules we make by thinking.  They are what naturally arises out of our native commitment to what we love.  So rather than figuring out how to control what seems scary, when it is not really able to be controlled (it is an elephant, not a kitten), it is time to feel what seems like what I want to do.  Retreat is what I want.  But how?  That is the questions. 

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« Reply #51 on: April 23, 2012, 04:22:42 PM »

Coping with difficult family members can be exhausting at times.  Communicating my values and their boundaries and being consistent in upholding them for myself has paid off long term.  Once I got past the "tantrums" and was consistent I saw a drop in the stresses of managing the relationship.  

At first it was difficult and a little scary, because honestly growing up with a mentally ill parent can be pretty boundary-less, and it wasn't something I was going to learn from them.

My first values was to respect otters right to choose. My boundary was being able to say "No" without justifying, arguing, defending or explaining.  No I wouldn't be going, No I don't want to, No that's not convenient, No I won't do that for you, etc.  This didn't go over well at first, but with time it became less threatening to my relationship with my parents.  My "no" meant "no"... .which conveniently lead to my "yes" meaning "yes".

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« Reply #52 on: December 07, 2012, 07:33:41 PM »

Hi Skip,

Many thanks for this thread.

As one who left the BPD relationship with boundaries smashed and to be honest the doormat it was and is a topic i have worked on the last 18 months.

In many ways so many of the posts in this thread touch upon aspects of my life with a BPD mother and being told I am selfish or whatever when I didn't do the correct thing was just part of the journey. I had as one poster described spongy boundaries but it was limited to just some relationships I had in life. In other aspects they were flexible and normal and healthy. bringing those lagging boundaries back to every aspect of my life has been a challenge and almost like an exercise to enforce them.

Many things in life i would just let slide, boundaries were broken and I just went its not worth it. Someone pushed in front of me in a line I just went ok, whatever. Someone was rude I jsut went ok fine. Not about looking for fights or anything like this, if someone pushes in front of me in line now I will tell them there is a line and would they mind getting to the end of it. Sometimes they actually bite back and so too do I. Strange to grow a backbone and not accept rubbish even in little things. This goes far further thanks to the BPD journey and many things I will no longer tolerate at all.

Great thread and thanks 
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« Reply #53 on: July 24, 2013, 12:51:33 PM »

Simply, I want to say thanks to all the contributors here and to Skip who started the workshop! I now have pages of notes to go through and lots to think about!
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« Reply #54 on: June 20, 2015, 03:43:19 AM »

Thank you Skip for reactivating this thread.
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« Reply #55 on: July 22, 2015, 02:10:41 PM »

All this above about boundaries is awesome... .BUT:

How does one establish and enforce boundaries with a uBPDw whom one has only just realized is suffering after 30 years of being together?  I am not a glutton - only just realized it _wasn't_ "just me".

I see the problem here being her feeling like "Where did this all come from?  You have never spoken out against this before?"  For the amount of energy that would require it seems almost better to just let the tramplings continue... .

I am a "stander", but only inasmuch as I can do so and remain healthy.
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« Reply #56 on: July 28, 2015, 04:22:22 PM »

Hi Dobzhansky,

Excerpt
I see the problem here being her feeling like "Where did this all come from?  You have never spoken out against this before?"  For the amount of energy that would require it seems almost better to just let the tramplings continue... .

The risk you are facing is what I see as the "undecided trap". Confronted with the difficult situation seeking THE solution. THE decision. THE right words. The prospect of a huge change is overwhelming. Better get it right. Analyze more. Get more reassurance. Ponder more. Question yourself more. Argue with fate.

There is no such thing as THE solution. We got into the mess one step at a time. And to get out it takes one step at a time. Avoiding invalidation more often than not. Establishing a rule for ourselves. Trying to validate more. Another rule for ourselves. Validating more and better... .

When you think about the whole project IT IS overwhelming. But avoiding JADE is energy saving - immediate payback. Validation is low energy expense, low risk and usually pays back in the situation. In the long run validation carries interest for you as it gets you a deeper understanding and for the pwBPD as it helps to build self validation capability.

Now boundaries often come with an initial struggle. But once that is past the boundary changes the game and pays back the expended effort over time.

The path is not to play Herkules and carry the world on your shoulders. Far from it. We are all exhausted when we begin this journey. It is only doable when we remain conscious of what changes are in our reach and focus on the changes that improve our life. Changes that are enabling us then to do the next and bigger step. Every step makes us stronger. It all starts with baby steps.
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« Reply #57 on: October 06, 2015, 01:36:52 AM »

Thank you for this thread, I really appreciate all that was said here including the external links. It sounds to me like boundaries are how we create a r/s that we can live with and many times problems occur because we have violated our own boundaries without knowing it.
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« Reply #58 on: November 12, 2018, 03:04:47 AM »

this thread has been  the most useful thing i have read all day
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