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How Understanding Childhood Triggers Helps Me Set Boundaries

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Everyone needs boundaries. That’s easy to say, but it can be very difficult to put into practice, especially when you’re battling anxiety, depression, or some other mental health condition. Boundaries can be more emotional or physical and can be related to things you do or say. It has been incredibly helpful in my healing journey to identify the areas in my life that are triggers, set up boundaries in those areas and then develop good self-care habits.

Sometimes, our childhood can shape what our triggers look like in our adult years. When I was able to identify these triggers from childhood, I could begin to set some healthy boundaries.

Here are some questions that helped me understand my boundaries and how they could be related to childhood triggers:

1. Time

Who owns your time? Is it your work or family? Spouse or kids? Do you resent that? What price do you pay in freedom? Are people taking advantage of your time? Ask yourself, “Am I doing this because I’m guilted into it? Because I can’t say no?” How do you want to use your time? Are you able to set boundaries to make sure you have the time you need? When you were a child did you have control over how you spent your time, or did your parents control that?

2. Space

Do you have your own space? Your own room? Do you need a lot of personal space? Are you OK with people touching you, hugging you, in your personal bubble? How were you raised in regards to personal space? Did you have an affectionate family or a family that didn’t interact? How does that have an effect on how you interact with your kids/spouse? Attachment issues in childhood can lead to the same issues in adulthood, or even a pendulum swing toward dependency.

3. Property

Is your money your own? Do you have your own stuff? Were you raised to share, or did you have your own things that were just for you? How does that impact/influence the personal decisions you make and your buying habits?

Our perception is our reality. We need to not assume things and instead, challenge our negative perception to find out what is really truth. Again, this is easy to say, but much harder to do. So, what do you do if you find yourself in a situation where you’re “going off the deep end” because your boundaries have been crossed? This is where self-care comes in.

If you don’t know where to start with self-care, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Do I allow outside circumstances and people to pull me down? How dependent am I on external things for my own happiness and peace? What can I do to regain internal control in these areas? How do I cope with conflict and pain — what are the healthy and unhealthy ways? What are some ways I can improve on this? How can I involve others so they can notice these things and provide help?

We all need to practice good self-care so that in the hard times it becomes easier and more natural. I have found that this helps me not to turn to negative coping methods in the dark times.

What tips do you have?

Unsplash photo via Nicolas Ladino Silva

Originally published: October 23, 2017
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