This month I interviewed an expert about setting boundaries in enmeshed relationships (these relationships don’t have boundaries, and each person is more defined by the relationship than by their individuality).
One of the reasons why creating and sustaining boundaries is difficult is because change is rough.
We’re creatures of habits, used to our routines, used to the thoughts circulating our brains.
Change is also intimidating and scary. It’s overwhelming to think that things could be different — and to know that you’re the one who has to make that happen.
You’re the driver. You’re the boss.
When he’s working with clients who have enmeshed relationships, he does a “cost-benefit analysis.” He helps them realize that there’s much more to lose in having the relationship remain the same (or staying in the relationship) than by changing things.
He also cited Anaïs Nin’s beautiful quote: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
So what does this quote and enmeshed relationships have to do with body image and self-care?
They’re a powerful reminder that living with negative feelings about your body and yourself, of being shackled to the scale, of putting yourself last, isn’t worth it. That letting things remain the same has many, many costs: the costs of constant self-criticism, exhaustion, disappointment, dissatisfaction, anxiety, sadness, unhealthy relationships.
Sure, you get to keep your routine, which probably has very little time for change or for doing things strictly for yourself.
Sure, building a more positive sense of self requires effort, energy and, again, that precious resource: time.
But doing so also means greater benefits: the freedom of not paying attention to numbers, the freedom of paying attention to how you feel, of listening to your body, of feeling good, of having fun, of building an honest, healthy relationship with yourself.
Remaining tight in a bud — not challenging those mean thoughts, not thinking you deserve to feel good, not taking kind care of yourself, letting others bulldoze your boundaries, feeling guilty for making yourself a priority — is more painful than letting yourself bloom.
Give yourself the chance, the permission, the power, to blossom.
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Last reviewed: 18 Sep 2013