Moving Forward & Building Robust Boundaries

The work I do is helping others through the tragedies of narcissistic abuse. The stories I hear are all equally as horrible and unfortunately I am never surprised by anything a client tells me anymore.

It is sad to get to the point where nothing surprises you anymore but this is where I find myself. My heart goes out to each and every one of you. Some of you have lost everything you’ve ever worked for, including your sense of self. Some are fortunate that you haven’t lost everything but know you could have, had you not learned about narcissism when you did.

Learning about narcissistic personality disorder can bring us the knowledge we need to say “O.K. I know he, or she, is narcissistic or has something like this and there is nothing I can do to change it.” The next step is to decide what you are going to do about it.

For most, who know you must get away from the insanity created by the narcissism, the only choice is to cut off all contact and find a way to get on with your life. For those with family ties such as children, it is impossible to completely cut off contact but will have to limit the contact and develop enough inner strength to draw your boundaries, keeping any and all communication to a bare minimum having to do with the subject at hand, i.e., when to pick up the kids, when to return them, etc.

No matter what your situation, one thing is most certain. The narcissistic abuse you have suffered has put you in a place where a spiritual journey is almost required for your survival. This is a journey that requires going deep within and assessing your strengths, your weaknesses, and finding out who you really are.

As victims of abuse we want to not only survive but to thrive. There is a need somewhere deep within to make sense out of what has transpired and use our experiences to launch us to the next level in our lives.

I use the word victim very carefully because I believe; on a spiritual level, I know there are no true victims. We draw our experiences to us, on some level, no matter how horrible they are. Because these are the experiences that shake us up at our very core and require no less than a complete transformation in order to get beyond it.

Unlike rules (with punishments or negative consequences), boundaries are characterised by the following:


Boundaries are clear, specific and clearly communicated. They work best when you have the students’ attention, when they understands what you’re requesting, when the positive outcome of their cooperation is clear and when specific requirements, conditions or time factors are spelled out. For example, “I’ll read for the last 10 minutes of class as long as you’re quiet and your work is done.”


Boundaries respect and consider the needs of everyone involved. They attempt to create ways for both you and your students to get what you want. For example, “¥ou can take another library book home as soon as you return the ones you borrowed last week,” or “I want to hear about this problem. I’ll be free to give you my full attention as soon as I give the reading group their assignments.”


Boundaries work to prevent problems and are typically expressed before a problem occurs or before it is allowed to continue (or get worse). For example, “You can use this equipment as soon as you can demonstrate how to use it correctly.” “Let’s stay quiet in the hall so we don’t disturb any of the other classes.”


The most effective boundaries typically focus on the positive outcomes of cooperation. They are also expressed positively, as promises rather than threats or simply as information (with the implication that the positive outcome is available, for example, until a certain time or under certain conditions). For example, “If you do your homework 10 days in a row, you can have the 11th day off (or do for extra credit),” or “The art centre closes at 2:00.”

Follow through

Follow through—allowing a positive consequence to occur only when the child does what you’ve asked—is what communicates that you mean what you say and you say what you mean. It increases the likelihood that your students will take you seriously when you ask for what you want, and it improves the chances that they will cooperate as well (if it’s really the only way they can get what they want).

Boundaries are tools for building cooperation in relationships, for letting others know what you want and for letting them know which options are available to them (for getting what they want). Set boundaries when you want behaviours to change and wish to avoid negative, stressful behaviours such as nagging, yelling, threatening or punishing to get what you want. Whether you use boundaries in relationships with children or other adults, the characteristics of boundaries and dynamics of boundary setting are the same.

Boundaries allow you to follow through without even getting angry! Follow through works wonders, but it requires patience, faith, consistency and courage!

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