How often have you set a boundary and felt guilty afterwards?
Guilt can push you straight into a negative thought spiral and make you feel ashamed for asking for what you need or speaking your truth.
Was that too much?
Do they hate me now?
Are they mad at me?
Will they invite me again?
Our brain works against us when we try to change a thought pattern or coping skill. It's our brain's main job to keep us safe, not to keep us happy. Keeping this in mind will give you an advantage when you set, assert and reassert your boundaries. It will also help with any inner critical thought patterns. The difference between people who successfully implement change in their lives and those who don't is anticipating and being prepared for when they make mistakes and for when things inevitably become difficult.
Nothing is perfect, and you will make mistakes. Sometimes, it is hard to recover from your mistakes. But, you can do hard things.
Our brain is wired for survival. Your brain tries to keep you safe and by default, doing things differently isn't safe because our brain can't anticipate what will happen. That's why your brain will do everything it can to stop you from doing what is new and get you back to doing what is familiar.
Yep, even if it's worse for your mental and physical wellbeing. As I said, it doesn't matter if we are happy. It's built to only care about survival.
When you're new to boundaries, they are labeled as unsafe. So when you start setting boundaries, your brain labels this new thing as dangerous because it hasn't experienced it enough to anticipate what will happen. Your brain thinks it's safer not to set boundaries. So, you can understand why your brain tries to get you to stop by throwing everything it has at you. That can be guilt, shame, fear, overthinking, and anxiety.
Here is how you can outsmart your brain, plus 3 tips on how to soothe yourself...
Be prepared for when you're feeling guilty. Knowing this is an advantage because you can prepare yourself before your brain is trying to take you down. Here is the thing, you can't stop the grief. You can't stop feeling anxious. But you can build emotional resilience to do what's right for you even though it's hard.
Soothe yourself through the guilt. The only thing that will stop the guilt is continuously setting boundaries and over time your brain will know its safe to do. So the way to prepare for boundary setting guilt is to soothe yourself through it. The guilt is inevitable, what determines your growth is how you move forward despite feeling guilty.
Here are 3 tips on how to soothe yourself:
Call a friend. Call a friend who you can share your experience with, someone that knows that your goal is to set healthy boundaries, and someone who will cheer you on. This will help you shift your mindset and relax your nervous system.
Give yourself what you need. How are you feeling after setting the boundary besides guilty? You could feel tired, so you can take a nap. You could feel anxious, so you could move your body in a way that feels good. You might feel tense, so take a bath. You could feel sad, so cry. Honour your emotions. Don't try to numb them. Feel through your feelings and prioritise self-soothing practices.
Repeat a positive affirmation. When you get into a negative thought spiral, it can be paralysing. Have 3 readily available affirmations that promote a strong positive emotion. Repeat as needed until the thought spiral passes.