- in Into The World , Mindset
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How to create boundaries with parents without feeling guilty
Do you ever think about wanting to create boundaries with parents, like talk to them less, and it makes you feel guilty?
I wrote about this on Instagram the other day, and the response was huge. (I’m also on Facebook! Connect for daily inspiration. )
I wanted to share this message with you and offer a few actionable ways to create stronger boundaries with parents without feeling guilty so you can create more momentum in your life and career.
Toxic parent / child relationships are really common and it’s not often discussed, especially when it comes to not getting along with your mom.
Heavy cultural conditioning makes it painful to speak about and the person sharing their experience is often judged or viewed as crazy or wrong because… it’s your mother.
She couldn’t possibly do anything wrong or it couldn’t have been that bad.
You’re probably imagining things, they say, overtly or not.
But if you’ve experienced emotional or physical abuse or neglect from either of your parents, you know it’s not that easy.
You may feel pressured to maintain the facade of a great relationship, talking to your mom or dad whenever they want or keeping the status quo, afraid to set new boundaries with parents.
The truth is…
this pressure comes from an internal desire to receive the love you wanted as a child, but never got.
It comes from the hurt child within you hoping that if you can just be good enough, you’ll get the love you needed.
But people don’t change unless they want to and unfortunately maintaining toxic relationships and not setting boundaries with parents only keeps you mired in toxic patterns in your own life without any hope for change.
The cost of this is huge –
Not going after the job you really want, experiencing seemingly unrelated turmoil in your relationships, or not attracting the relationships you really want.
Constantly feeling like you owe someone something all while tearfully healing the sadness or anger that builds with every interaction.
Losing momentum in your life as you constantly self-sabotage to preserve your image as the good daughter.
You don’t always have to reduce or eliminate contact.
Often the solution is much simpler, but deeper and more powerful because it influences your entire life.
The important thing is to understand the deeper dynamics, the needs of your inner child, and learn how to navigate these relationships and set boundaries with parents as an empowered adult instead of a child needing love.
Doing this will free your heart in so many ways and give you the energy and soul freedom to live the amazing, authentic life that you can see so clearly but feels just out of reach.
This is the deep, powerful and lasting work I help my clients with.
Here’s how to create boundaries with parents:
1. Where are you showing up in your relationships from a sense of obligation instead of love?
My clients often say, “but it’s my mother,” or “it’s my father,” when they think about creating boundaries with parents.
Because they’re your parents, you feel obligated to continue out the toxic patterning that’s destroying both of you.
The truth is — nobody can make you feel guilty. The feeling comes from within you.
Guilt comes from a sense that you don’t deserve what you want to receive, in this case freedom and stronger boundaries.
Guilt comes from feeling scared you’ll lose love if you create these boundaries, but the truth is…
You already feel unworthy of love in some way, and that’s the entire problem, and why it’s so difficult to create boundaries with parents.
Because you feel unworthy, or rather your inner child feels unworthy, it’s easy to continue toxic behavior in hopes of getting love you wanted but never received.
You may think you’re continuing the pattern from a sense of self-lessness, or to help someone, but it’s actually the desire to help yourself.
Because you’re not showing up from a place of wanting to meet your parent’s needs.
You’re showing up from a place of wanting to meet your own needs.
You may think that setting boundaries is selfish.
But actually once you find the love you’re looking for within and set boundaries with parents, you shift. You’re more empowered. You overflow with energy.
You’re full of your magical self.
And from this place, you’re able to serve the world, to make it a better place by showing up in full radiance of your true self.
It’s not that anyone is a bad person. You or your troubled parent.
We’re all in need of love. We’re all hurting.
It’s just a matter of doing what’s best for you, and your life, and that’s actually what’s best for the world.
Because enabling dysfunction doesn’t serve anyone. Neither you, your parent, nor the world.
2. Heal what needs to be healed before setting boundaries with parents.
This is the deep inner work I help my clients with.
It’s very important to go back and identify early memories that still hold pain to end the internal war.
Your adult self continues to judge your inner child for her pain. A part of you wishes this pain would just go away, but all your inner child wants is to be held and acknowledged.
A part wishes you were good enough to receive the love you never got, because even if your parent acted in an unloving way, on some level you blame yourself.
That’s what children do — shift their behavior to get what they need from the only people capable of ensuring their survival.
Even though you grew older, a part of you is still stuck in this mindset.
This hurt inner child keeps you mired in toxic relationships and self-sabotage.
This inner child makes it difficult to set boundaries with parents.
To release the pattern and the guilt, it’s imperative that you heal and love your inner child and yourself.
Here’s an advanced shadow work process to do just that.
You must find the love you’re looking for within instead of continually enabling toxic relationships in the hope that your parent will change and give you what you need.
Sometimes people do heal, but even if the future changes, the past never will. Healing must be done.
You can’t force anyone to change. Instead, you must love and accept yourself fully, and your parent fully.
Once you love yourself, it’s much easier to find compassion and love for anyone who’s hurting because you no longer need what they can’t give you.
It’s much easier to set boundaries with parents.
You CAN find anything you need inside yourself. It’s all there.
The faster you come to love and acceptance with this, and set the boundaries with parents you need, the faster your life will change.
This meditation technique is how I healed my heart from years of hurt. Try it and get ready to feel free.
Download the world’s most powerful meditation for emotional healing.
Most meditation techniques focus on the breath. This brings you into your body
3. Create new boundaries with parents from love for yourself and others, not obligation.
Honor yourself and your needs. Accept your parents for who they are, and the situation as it is.
From this place of total love and acceptance, ask — what boundaries do you want to create?
This isn’t always about reducing or eliminating contact, although you can certainly do that if you feel called. You don’t owe anyone your presence, especially if it’s a toxic situation.
Sometimes, this involves simply changing how you show up in the relationship.
Maybe you no longer allow yourself to be a source of venting or uncomfortable emotional support for a parent.
Perhaps you speak up for yourself when a parent says mean or hurtful things to you instead of just taking it.
Maybe you no longer pick up the phone every time they call, all while dreading what happens when you do.
Overall, this is a process of individuation —
becoming wholly yourself and living your life as an empowered adult instead of constantly replaying toxic patterns that will never change unless you decide to change them.
This can be a slow process or not, depending upon the boundaries, your relationship and desired result.
You don’t have to tell your parent, “I’m not talking to you because you’re toxic.” That’s cruel and unloving.
Instead, as you go about your life, notice those interactions that don’t feel good, and simply speak up for yourself in a loving, non-aggressive but firm way.
“I don’t like how you’re speaking to me right now. I’m unable to continue to continue this conversation. Let’s connect later when we both feel calmer.”
“Unfortunately, I have plans to spend time with my friends / work on a new project of mine / relax and unwind from a hectic week, so I can’t come over right now. Let’s connect later.”
The firmer you are in your innate deservingness to create these boundaries with parents, the more you will speak up for yourself calmly and lovingly.
It’s only when you don’t feel deserving that you’ll flip out and lose it.
Know that ALL internal turmoil you feel towards a parent is not about them, but about you.
This isn’t about blaming your parents, and it’s also not about being a victim.
You are not a victim. You are an empowered woman free to make her own choices and live her own life.
We all have stuff that’s happened to us. We’re all required to go through these lessons of life. It’s an ongoing journey to love ourselves and learn the lessons so we can be free of the struggle.
This journey is about recognizing what you most deeply desire for your life and clearing away everything that’s keeping you from rising into your full potential.
Unfortunately, and often, especially for the creative, big-dreaming free spirits that I work with, parent trauma and drama is a core reason why you’re not living the life you want to.
This MUST be addressed before moving forward. If you don’t address it, you simply won’t be able to move forward.
You’ll keep sabotaging yourself, feeling the loss and drain of energy that results from toxic, unhealthy relationships, and losing momentum in the changes that you DO make.
Once you find what you’re looking for within and heal the past, your life will change so quickly you won’t know what hit you.
Free training: Are you ready to do the inner work necessary to set empowered boundaries and become who you most want to be?
Clients pay me thousands of dollars to be guided through my signature shadow work process, and for the first time I’m making this complete system available to you, in a free video.
This is one of your best blogs, ever.
You speak directly from the soul in way that touches upon a sensitive subject in a strong but loving way.
Thank you for sharing this with your readers.
Wow! What an amazing compliment! Thank you
All the love,
Creating boundaries with my parents certainly is difficult largely due to guilt. It’s not only self imposed, but any time I’ve tried to do so, my parents say or imply that I don’t appreciate anything they’ve done like as though it’s all or nothing – that to show my gratitude I can never ever bring anything up otherwise I am ungrateful and selfish. But it’s also complicated in that my sibling and my mother enable my dads immature, manipulative, bullying, sexist behaviours by either not acknowledging what’s happening or minimizing their effect/minimizing me if I ever even so much as hint that I’m upset about it, and when we’re all together they all start to act more like him. If I were to verbalize any type of boundary with my dad while visiting them, I’d probably have to leave (we live hours apart) and it would lead to them all kind of alienating me (my family will and have alienated anyone who has any sort of struggles that might imply that the family has issues, by putting all the blame on the person who isntruggling, . I honestly would be fine with cutting ties with my dad if that was all it entailed but I know that my mom and sibling unconsciously cater to him because it’s safer – to avoid conflict with him. But it’s at my expense so I’m hugely torn about all this. I grew up in a community that is generally very conservative, sexist, racist, and victim-blaming so there is all sorts toxic behaviours and a system that upholds these in my family such that I feel like any interaction with them after trying to put up any boundaries or vocalize any upset would just make things much worse to the point that I’d have to consider cutting all ties with my childhood community. When I’ve considered this, I’ve thought about how I could make up for that by sort of creating a new ‘chosen’ family, but I’ve also struggled with this because I now live in an urban area where people don’t seem to understand what it was like growing up isolated and in a rural area where harmful values are strongly upheld. Because of this, I find it hard to be my authentic self when I’ve once again been met with bootstrap mentalities, even among progressive people, who just don’t seem to understand because they were brought up in a much safer environment or at least had accessible options because they weren’t in an isolated environment, and so they don’t know any different…
I feel so trapped and alone. I’ve already left an abusive spouse this year this year and I’m having lots of health issues, so I’m scared I can’t cope with recovering from that while also putting up boundaries with my family that are likely to result in complete separation from my family. But I can’t continue this way either. I can’t be around them because it’s too hard emotionally, but I can’t let them really *know* that. When I do visit them I have to basically bottle everything up and it leaves me an emotional wreck and it takes months to recuperate. That being said, I’m financially strained due to separation from my spouse, and despite my struggles with my parents, I feel somewhat safe in that if I fall ill/lose my house, I would at least have a place to stay for a while. Though it wouldn’t be the best environment for me, I would at least have shelter.
I just don’t know where to start, and so I feel stuck in this vicious cycle.
I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling, but know that deep healing is possible for you <3
Hope to see you in one of my courses. They will help you.
I do generally agree with all that is written apart from the advice that you don’t have to point out that they are toxic – that you can just have the intention of altering your behaviour on your own. This is because when you are unhealthily enmeshed with a parent who shows toxic behaviour – they will notice the smallest deviation from the relationship if you want to make changes and you will suffer even more for trying to do so. I began to notice many months ago that a very close family member who i was in contact with daily showed a great deal of toxic behaviours that were literally making me ill. I tried to bring them up constructively again and again and no real improvements happened. I was beginning to individuate in my mind and actually beginning to experience a sense of freedom and happiness when they then got diagnosed with cancer. The toxic traits continued and the last few months has been emotional agony as i struggle with trying to provide support but never wanting to see them again such have i become overloaded with the stress of this obligation. The guilt is horrendous because they have at times supported me fully through health complaints but I have felt as though i have been this person’s emotional support since i was a child – to the extent it was abusive. I already lost half of my family when i left an abusive husband and now i am concerned i will lose this half as i have other family members saying support should be unconditional when someone has cancer and to stop making it about “me”. Well it is about me when it is my life too. The day before yesterday after confronting this family member with yet more boundary crossing, half truths etc with them taking 0 responsibility – i told them i only wanted to ring them 1-2 times a week. Yesterday i felt like i had been let out of prison – today i feel terrible. I wouldn’t wish this hell on anyone x
This is something I can certainly relate with. I have a parent who is extraordinary manipulative: a charismatic gas lighter who will almost never admit they were wrong, especially if you dare to point it out. When doing this it is flipped around on my and unrelated subjects are brought up as a means to distract and disarm. This person has spent time in prison, and while there had cancer. The sense of obligation and guilt created by master manipulators runs deep, especially if they are a parent.
Anyway, I know your post is a year old. If you have since developed healthy coping strategies I would love to hear them.
The guilt and obligation is within you. Once you own your emotions, you reclaim your power to free yourself from the influence of people who act in toxic ways.