I want to offer some assurance for anyone struggling with setting boundaries. Ready for it? Deep breath.
It’s not your fault.
Yep, I said it, and I’m going to say it again. It’s not your fault.
In my experience, there are plenty of good reasons we struggle with setting boundaries. Most of us are taught some pretty messed up stuff about them. We’re taught to put others first, even at a detriment to ourselves. We’re taught that we need to keep things smooth at the surface, even when that means underlying issues go unaddressed. We’re taught to be polite and deferential. We’re not taught how to listen to our needs, let alone speak them.
We’re taught these things so completely from such a young age that it’s hard not to believe them. The ideas given to us by someone else can start to feel like our own.
So, once more – take a deep breath. Remember that it’s not your fault. And even more, we can work on believing something different about our boundaries. Like that we’re allowed to have them, as a start. And that doing so doesn’t make us rude, selfish, or wrong.
I've created a PDF with 5 more affirming beliefs you can play with about boundaries. Try them on. See how they fit. Create your own, if you like.
You’ve got this.
All you have to do is sign up for my newsletter and you'll instantly get a copy of this free PDF. From there, I send out emails about a dozen times a year with handy guides I've created, information about the latest groups I'm offering, news about community resources, and a curated collection of the best articles and resources related to mental health from a feminist counselling perspective. And remember, you can unsubscribe at any time if it no longer works for you.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
After having this book on my shelf for several months, I read it over the December break, knowing that I needed the time and space to fully immerse myself in it. And I did. I sat on my office couch, and in my bed at home, and I had a good long cry or two (or more). I let myself take in the sorrow of the letter writers' grief and be moved by it. I let my guard down and allowed myself to be different. I even took off my psychologist hat (a thing I almost never do) and let myself read it as a person first.
This book will transform you, if you let it in. I definitely recommend reading it over several sittings (all at once could be overwhelming) but within a short enough time frame that you can stay down in the depths with it. I thought it might be too much but the order of the letters has been designed wonderfully, so it intersperses shorter more humorous letters with the more difficult ones. I was particularly moved by the letters that had to do with family and mothering, but really this is a book about life.
Trigger warning: Cheryl Strayed talks pretty openly about her childhood sexual abuse, and a number of the letters have to do with sexual violence. I absolutely found it readable - and I don't always - but it wouldn't be the best book for someone in the early stages of healing from trauma or dealing with active flashbacks/nightmares.
View all my reviews
Nicole Perry is a Registered Psychologist and writer with a private practice in Edmonton. Her approach is collaborative and feminist at its heart. She specializes in healing
About the Blog
This space will provide information, stories, and answers to big questions about some of my favorite topics - boundaries, burnout, trauma, self compassion, and shame resilience - all from a feminist counselling perspective. It's also a space I'm exploring and refining new ideas.