Boundaries, Shame and Recovery

Often people come to me feeling used by others, not seen, and/or not valued. The idea that they have to adapt to other people’s wishes and are unable somehow to express their boundaries, say “no” for example, is often in evidence. These are very painful situations, and the pain is often deep seated, accompanied by a sense of helplessness, and sometimes hatred and rage. Fear of these emotions and feelings is often palpable because they often feel out of proportion, which only adds to the sense of helplessness to bring change to the situation. Underneath all of these symptoms is often a deep sense of shame and self-loathing.

If you’re reading this, and recognize (some of) these issues, you may be looking for some support. Something in you may realise that you are worthwhile, and interested in the meaning of what you are experiencing.

Everything that lives has the inborn impulse to realise themselves.
What generally holds people back from evolving, are the ideas that they have about themselves. (Free translation from text below)

Alles wat leeft heeft de ingeboren drang om tot bloei te komen.
Wat de mens er voornamelijk van weerhoudt om zich te ontplooien, zijn de ideeën die hij heeft over zichzelf.

Erik Zuydam

Feeling dependent on how someone else treats you is a very vulnerable position. One we have all been in as children. The feeling of being helpless in the face of someone else’s actions (or lack of action), can easily be triggered when there is unfinished business from our youth.

Support and self-support

When relationships are lacking in curiosity, and real interest, there seems no hope of receiving support, recognition and compassion, and the world can feel like a very lonely place. Self-support is sometimes recognizing that we need support to explore the unknown in ourselves. Exploring why we feel stuck in certain situations can bring clarity and free up energy we’ve been suppressing – sometimes for a very long time. Finding ways of living with this new energy can be both daunting and exciting.

Practising new skills

Living with new ways of being requires fertile ground and practise.

There are some exercises you can do using the body. You can practise them when you’re not stressed, or use them to help you stay with, or explore a difficult situation.

  • be aware of your breathing without meddling or judging it. If you notice that you are meddling, by trying to make it deeper or slower, be aware of this. What type of things are you saying to yourself? Is it helping you to deepen or slow down the breath? If it is, how? What kind of things are you saying to yourself when you notice it’s helping or not helping?
  • imagine the sun, or a gentle breeze on your skin. Begin with the top of your head and move your attention down your body, letting go of any tension you become aware of. If tension is high and unresponsive, it’s ok. This is an area that needs more attention, just recognise this and continue, or stop and attend* if you have the time to. *attending to tension, or other things: be as open as is possible to what is there. If you do/don’t like what is there, pay attention to that. What is it that you do/don’t like? How is the energy of “don’t like/do like”. There is no reason to force anything, just attend to whatever arises. If you notice you are trying to force something, ask yourself why you think this is the thing to do? You can also be aware of any compassion and/or curiosity towards yourself in these difficult moments, or be aware of how difficult it is to access them.