If you are like many people, you may see setting boundaries of what you allow into your life as something you shouldn’t do, thinking that it’s a selfish act.
“My parents have always been so caring, and they have always been concerned for me. We’ve enjoyed a great relationship my whole life, especially as an adult. But … I just got a job offer that is the position of my dreams! When I told my parents about it, it all changed.
“They started to tell me that my dad’s health wasn’t good - I had no idea it was that bad; my mom started telling me that she’s lonely and I’m the only bright spot in her life and they reminded me of all the sacrifices they’ve made for me.
They’ve given their lives to me … how can I leave them after all of that?”
This is a common dilemma. A major obstacle to setting boundaries with others in our lives is our feelings of obligation.
Many people simply avoid this dilemma by not setting boundaries at all with those to whom they feel this obligation! They never move to a new city, never change schools or jobs, never switch friends - even when it would be a wise, beneficial and mature choice.
The idea that because I have received something, I owe something is a nonexistent debt.
When we receive love or time or money or anything that causes us to feel obligated, it should be accepted as a gift.
“Gift” implies no strings attached. All you need to do is have the spirit of gratitude. The giver has no expectation that their gift to you will provide a return; they simply provided it because they care about you and wanted to do something for you.
Develop the practice of gratitude instead of guilt. Guilt gets you nowhere and is a harmful negative emotion. Gratitude is uplifting and positive and can absolutely change your life for the better!
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