How do you deal with this guilt associated with the possibility of feeling selfish about holding true to your boundaries when it comes...
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How do you deal with this guilt associated with the possibility of feeling selfish about holding true to your boundaries when it comes to family and friends?
In this episode, I talk about tips on managing the guilt and feelings that you may be selfish when setting boundaries with family and friends as you move on to let go of shame.
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Hey, what's up, Unbroken Nation. Michael Anthony here—author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma. You're listening to or watching the Michael Unbroken Podcast.
Today, I'm going to talk to you about—I’m actually gonna read this—tips on managing the guilt and feelings that you may be being selfish when it comes to setting boundaries with family and friends.
The reason I had to read that was because it was a message from one of the listeners here. So, thank you very much for leaving your question. And, guys, you can always reach out to me. Leave your questions at email@example.com or you can even leave them in the reviews on iTunes or in the comments on YouTube. I will read them. I will respond to them. I will make podcast episodes about them.
So, how do you deal with this guilt that you feel associated with the possibility of feeling selfish about holding true to your boundaries when it comes to family and friends? Reality? Look, you have to understand something really important about guilt. It's typically in association with things that you have done in your life that have led you to this place in which you understand guilt as a precursor for showing up for yourself.
Now, I know that sounds very complicated. Still, the simplified way of explaining this is that when we are young, this is ingrained, this is embedded, this feeling of guilt or shame about putting ourselves first, like is so deeply—it's probably so incredibly profoundly embedded that even this isn't going to be that helpful to you and tell you to understand something really, really, really important—and that is, you cannot be guilty of putting yourself first because if you don't put yourself first, how can you ever take care of other people?
The reason you feel guilty for putting yourself first, for holding up boundaries with family and friends, is because the entirety of your life has been depicted and understood within the capacity of “if I put myself second, then other people will care about me.” Or narrative to, if I don't put myself first, if I don't be “selfish,” then I will be safe, right? Meaning, when we're young, we're putting these precarious situations. And those situations all often—excuse me—they often involve those not stepping into our agency due to the fear, the ramification of taking action in our life or free when we do step into this—where we try to create something in our life on our terms—someone typically within our community, our family, our siblings, our peers, our teachers. They say, “how dare you, you're so selfish. Look how greedy you are. Always putting yourself first.” And that agency, that one moment could be so minor.
And here's what happens when we're in our developmental years. These one thing, these one moment, these single occurrences have a single sentence—”you're selfish because you put yourself first over your mother who bends over backwards.” You know, you've heard whatever that thing is—that guilt that they distill upon us. That one moment can become the precursor for everything that happens in your life.
I talk about this all the time. In order to understand—and my one-on-one clients, when we are coaching, they know this—like this is baseline. I'm going to share something with you here.
Baseline to get to where you want to go, you have to understand how you got to where you are. And if you got to where you are right now because someone ingrained the idea that you should feel guilty about taking care of yourself, then now to get to where you want to go, where you remove that guilt, is going to take a lot of action. You're gonna have to put in some work. Like, that's what it comes down to.
Feeling guilty about who it is that you are when it comes to taking care of yourself in conjunction with family and friends—like, think about this is fucking nonsense. Like really, it is. Like, truly at the depths of it, like when you really look at it, and you measure it and you go, “what's really going on here?” It's fucking nonsensical.
Of course, you should take care of yourself. Of course, you should have boundaries. Of course you hold true to those things. I don't let anybody cross my boundaries for any fucking reason. I can deal with a lot of shit in my life like I really can but I don't let people yell at me. If you yelled at me right now in anger, frustration—and I can be a frustrating person. I get that I'm super stubborn, I'm super driven. I’m a hundred-mile-an-hour kind of person. Like, people get frustrated with me. Fine. Get frustrated. You yell at me. Oh my God. I will never talk to you again. I might give you the space to apologize but you know, realistically, my boundary says, I don't allow people to yell at me because the form of communication I understood as a child is verbal violence—physical violence too, but verbal, and being yelled at, being screamed at, being belittled.
And so, think about this from that conjunct from that factor, right? You look at your life, you go in conjunction with the understanding of who I am versus the person that I was, can I formulate a way to move through this feeling of guilt when it comes to being “selfish” as defined by other fucking people and not me.
Well, first and foremost, what you have to understand is this idea of selfishness, if that's your self-defined narrative, then you have a different problem. If you are feeling like you're doing things selfishly, you have a very different problem than other people are telling me “I'm selfish.” Or the third option, which is, “I feel like I'm selfish, even though a part of me feels like this is the right thing to do.” Right? It gets convoluted, just like me speaking tonight. It gets convoluted.
The reason that it gets convoluted is that we've allowed ourselves to this space in which we justify the idea that somehow taking care of ourselves should be secondary. And when we take care of ourselves, we justify that predetermined, programming, embedded, and ingrained in us since youth for many of us, that by taking care of ourselves, we are selfish. And when you feed into that, then it holds true. Why? Because we are the stories that we tell ourselves.
If you are telling yourself, “I am selfish because I take care of myself,” that is a fucked-up story. Like, for real, that is a real wrong fucking story to tell yourself. You cannot be selfish. Take, like, I’ve said this before, self-care is not selfish. Boundaries are not selfish, they are self-care. If you're letting people run amok in your life, stepping on you, using you like a fucking doormat, treating you like shit, and then the second you say, “No. No more. Stop. I'm done,” you’re riddled with the feeling of guilt. That is embedded in you. That is ingrained in you. Someone has instilled that in you because generationally that has gone through your lineage, or your family system, or your community for longer than we've been here.
You have to stop that. You have to give yourself space and permission to recognize that you cannot live your life in full accordance with the person that you want to be if you are trapped within this understanding that you should feel guilt about taking care of yourself.
I don't ever—look, I'm, I'll share something with you, and you need to understand this. It took me a long time to get to this understanding. I'm trying to distill decades of knowledge into 10 minutes, right? In addition to all the education that I have and the same things that I share with my clients when we're coaching. And, right now is not enough time to go into the depth of it but this is enough to start to give you an idea about how you got here.
And so now you're here. Now you're looking at your life. You're measuring it. You're measuring it enough that you're having this conversation with me, which means it's a problem. So, how do you create a solution to this? What is it that you need to go from “I feel guilty when I take care of myself” to “I take care of myself and I do not feel guilt or selfishness about it because I have given myself permission to take care of myself first.”
Putting yourself first is not selfish unless you are doing it in a selfish way.
If you are intentionally hurting people by not showing up, by being selfish, by being rude—perfect example, like I was super selfish in my 20s. Like incredibly selfish. Like in a way that I didn't even understand until—you know—almost 20 years later I look back on my life, I go, “Oh my God. How could you do that to someone? How could I say that to someone? How could I not show up for the people who needed me?” It's because it was ingrained in me. Of course, that makes sense. How else do you think I got there.
And man, of course, as I always say, the only way to create changes by creating change. Now, you're faced with something very difficult. The only way that you're going to reframe the narrative that you have around this idea of being selfish and feeling guilt intertwined with it is to understand where it comes from. This is high-level. This is enough to get you started. Where does it come from? Look at your life. Look at your experiences. Look at the things that have led you to this place in your life where you are now taking into consideration of your agency being associated with your guilt.
And if you don't know what agency means, that means your choice is your decision. You are standing up for yourself. You're being you, those moments in time in which you are you. And if you're stuck, and if you're trapped within this idea of guilt and shame around it, then you need to understand first how you got to where you are so you can get to where you want to go.
Now, the process of getting from where you are to where you want to go—that’s action. I talked about this a couple weeks ago. Mindset plus action, equals self-actualization, and that is the place in which you become you.
Now, moving through shame and guilt—it’s delicate. Shame and guilt consume us. I talked about it a couple of episodes ago. Go back and listen to it a couple of episodes ago. I dove deep into shame and guilt. There's going to be a lot of benefits there for you but ultimately the idea that you should feel shame or guilt about boundaries, about showing up for yourself, about protecting yourself? It's nonsense and its bullshit that was ingrained in you far before you could recognize or be cognizant that it was being implanted.
My friends, I hope this was super helpful for you today. As always, thank you so much for listening.
Please do me a favor—this really means the world to me—like, subscribe, comment, leave the message with a friend.
Until next time my friend...
Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.
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