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Day 15. Your Emotions Are There To Help you

Frightened?
Angry?
Smothered?
Resentful?
Depressed?
Berating you?
Victim thoughts and feelings?

 

These are all emotional clues that you let you know that you’ve experienced a boundary issue or even a series of them, or that you will need to be boundaried going forward as a means of self-care.

 

Fear and anger let you know that you need to address something to take care of you or that you need to correct something. It’s about perceiving a threat and feeling (and possibly believing) that you’ve experienced an injustice. Sometimes these feelings are about someone else’s behaviour, and sometimes, these feelings are about stuff you’re doing. And sometimes it’s a bit of both. You might also feel hurt because you’re experiencing pain either due to how you’re responding (judging you, etc.,) and/or because of what someone else is doing.

It’s also important to note that a history of struggling with boundaries messes with your fight, flight, freeze response. If, as a child, trying to help a parent, show how much you loved them, etc., meant that you were at times going towards danger, then when you are in a situation where you’re trying to please someone who isn’t treating you with love, care, trust and respect, you will go towards danger (not have boundaries) instead of recognising where you need to step back and be more boundaried or even opt out. Your responses don’t distinguish between past (a parental situation) and an adult-to-adult situation.

Feeling smothered is a big clue that something or someone feels invasive or that you’re they’re imposing upon you. You might be experiencing someone else’s jealousy, possessiveness or envy. Someone might be making demands on you or putting their responsibilities on you, and it quite simply might mean that your emotional, mental or physical boundaries are being crossed to the point of feeling as if that person is hogging up your oxygen supply. 

 

Resentment tells you that you have been angry and afraid in the past but that you’ve been holding it in, possibly hoarding these feelings. It also tells you that you’ve been doing what might be good things, but for the wrong reasons like out of guilt and obligation, or that you’ve been doing things with a hidden agenda or with the expectation of reward. And because these feelings remain unexpressed, it’s causing bitterness and no doubt impacting your behaviour.

 

Anger held in and unexpressed over a long period or that was held in despite going through a significant trauma or loss, becomes directed inwardly at you and turns into depression. Blame and shame over an extended period, especially when it’s carrying other people’s burdens, will cripple your emotional health and even impact your mental health. Too much stuff stored up, too much stuff internalised as it being a ‘you-problem’ leads to depression feelings. This signals that compassion, self-care, and possibly external support are needed, especially because depression feelings can be isolating, which is a vicious cycle. 

If you’re berating you, you’re scolding and criticising you for something. It’s going to represent where you feel that you should have acted differently or where you feel others should have and so are now blaming and shaming you.

 

If you feel as if somebody has injured you or that you’re the victim and they’re the aggressor, these feelings are pointing you to boundary issues. It signals that you’ve experienced an injustice, so taking care of you in future is needed to protect and limit you from being further impacted by this person. It could also indicate that you feel as if you don’t have power or choices (but someone else does over you), or that you might not be taking responsibility where you need to.

 

Your body provides guidance that communicates what does and doesn’t feel good for you and where you need to be more boundaried. It uses a combination of your feelings, which are instinctive emotional responses that happen without reasoning or knowledge, along with your gut and intuition that help to flag up where you need to pay extra attention. The reason why this happens is that you’re dealing with feelings and thoughts all day long. There have to be ways in which you are alerted to pay attention. You provide the reasoning and knowledge, so if you are not paying attention to your feelings, then you will have a pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviour that you’re responding to on autopilot or by attributing the ‘wrong’ thoughts, feelings and actions.

 

A healthier concept of boundaries means that you’re more grounded in who you are and how you feel, recognising vital information. You can also trust in your gut and intuition more because you’re willing to pay attention instead of only paying attention sporadically and then over-reacting (or feeling that you did) and then feeling as if you cannot trust your gut and intuition.

 

If something doesn’t feel right, it’s normally because it isn’t. It doesn’t mean doom or that something bad is going to happen, but it may indicate where you need to go slower, get more information, be more boundaried, or take care of you. Or maybe all of these things.

 

Feelings are not always immediately recognisable, and this is OK. Paying attention to your emotions, feeling your way through them, noting instead of judging them, is a massive step towards greater awareness. It will not always be immediately apparent why you feel a certain way but if you acknowledge the feeling instead of ignoring or judging it, being conscious, aware and present will at some point give you some clarity about its source.

The TAKEAWAY

  • The feeling of discomfort around your boundaries being pinged lets you know that you need to :
    • Be more aware
    • Address directly or step back
    • Be mindful of the specific behaviour and future dealings
  • Feelings aren’t facts, but they are clues that guide you on what you need to be and do for you. They alert you to where you’re feeling vulnerable, where you’re hard on you, or where there’s a possible issue.
  • Getting conscious, aware and present by checking in with you on a daily basis and having a sense of how you feel is invaluable because you soon learn to distinguish between what is being set off by an internal pattern and what is being set off due to something external.
  • It’s not always clear why you feel a certain way, but there are reasons, sometimes due to something happening at that time and sometimes due to emotions that are still there from the past that need some fresh perspective and self-care to break the pattern of them coming up.
  • If you have healthier boundaries, you will be less prone to feeling vulnerable (in the exposed to harm kind of way), or even raw. If you feel as if you’re easily triggered, that will stop too.
  • If you don’t pay attention to your feelings regularly or you ignore your gut and intuition when they make themselves known, your internal GPS will be off-base. If you want them to work, work ’em like a muscle!

JOURNALING: How do your emotions show themselves to you? Look at the feelings listed above and any others you’ve identified so far. How do you know that you’re feeling them? How do you feel? What do you typically think? What types of situations do they come up in? Have you had an experience where you feel as if your gut let you down? If so, in retrospect can you discern any useful information that it had? Was there anything you misinterpreted about the information (your reasoning and knowledge)? Use Unsent Letters to locate self-compassion so that you can forgive you.

TASK: If you haven’t been keeping a Feelings Diary, this is the time to start one. Check out the guide along with the Recognising Feelings guide where you can discover more about your emotions, in the Resources.

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