As we end the month of love, it gets me thinking…I am all about love, but I have found that most of us have a hard time managing how much we give to others. Too many people that I have worked with and known have no clue how to set loving boundaries. Not only with their partners but with their family and friends as well and this just leads to resentment and hurt.

You will know this applies to you if…

  • You do more for someone you love than they do for you and you end up feeling hurt;
  • You tend to take on more than you can handle and end up feeling drained;
  • You listen for hours on end to your loved ones problems and they don’t even ask how you are;
  • You lend money or pay for things constantly and find yourself “broke” at the expense of others.

These are all very typical complaints I hear from my clients and let me tell you, I have felt it too! Growing up with several family members who had severe addiction problems I had to learn hard and fast how to set a boundary with my family. However, I still had those over-giving tendencies and found that I created very unequal friendships. These patterns can show up in love, family, or friend relationships. I want to help you find your balance so that you can really enjoy your relationships.

First off, you have to identify where you are feeling drained. Who upsets you often? Who do you feel you give way more to than you receive? Once you know who they are, ask yourself, what do I really need from them? What do I have to STOP doing to really save our relationship? Remember, you teach people how they can treat you so if you keep showing up as a doormat or bankroll that is all they will know of you. It’s your responsibility to change the behavior internally.

Next, you have to figure out why you do this! For most of us, it’s learned behavior. Yet, it is also about wanting to be loved and accepted. I know that for me, because I was neglected as a child, it led me to want to become indispensable to people. My internal and unconscious belief was “if they need me, they won’t leave”. Well, all that need just created unhealthy giving on MY part. I paid for too much, listened for too long, and allowed very few people to even support me. Does this sound familiar?

Now, for the hard part, you’re going to have to realize your own value. I know that I can’t really teach you this in a blog post, but I can encourage you and give you a few tips. Start with a mantra or affirmation like “I am lovable and valuable” and repeat this over and over until you believe it. Better yet, say it in the mirror to yourself. Sounds crazy, but it works. Then make a list of all your talents and what you do well. Really take a moment to appreciate all the good you bring to the world. You are valuable!

Then you actually have to say no, shift the energy, and decide to be different. Once you are aware that you give too much and it drains you, then you can begin making adjustments. Start by saying “maybe” when asked to do something that you know you don’t really want to do. Check in with yourself and if you’re doing something to please them or keep them, the answer is NO. When someone calls you to dump all their shit on you, kindly change the subject or let them know you have to go. Close the door!

You may even have to give yourself some space for a bit from certain people until you feel strong enough. If you are brave enough you can simply say “it hurts my feelings when we talk and you don’t ask me how I am” or whatever the behavior is that hurts you. Lastly, you will have to put your wallet away. You can’t buy love or solve people’s problems with money. It is a temporary Band-Aid to a much bigger problem. When we solve people’s problems FOR them they never learn how to do it for themselves.

You could literally be disabling someone from taking better care of themselves or learning a valuable life lesson. In turn, this is your life lesson. You can’t save or love anyone until you do it for yourself. This doesn’t mean you can’t help people at all. It means you can’t do it from a place of depletion and feeling like you have to. To truly give, you have to be fulfilled and stable within yourself first. This means you have to be emotionally, physically, spiritually, and even financially well so you can have the love you deserve without feeling that you have to give away everything to get just a little bit from someone else.

I hope this article has served you and helped you see how you can get more balance in your relationships. If you think it may help someone else, please share it with them.

Now, I’d love to hear from you? How have you set clear and loving boundaries?

Love & Light,

Tori Helf, MA