I’m a Hufflepuff. If you’re not into Harry Potter, Hufflepuff is the house that values patience and loyalty. Patience and loyalty are awesome traits unless they’re rooted in unresolved trauma and fear of abandonment combined with poor boundaries. Hello. That’s me.
My loyalty, which makes me a kick-ass friend who will stand by your side no matter what – stems from an intense fear of abandonment. I fear abandonment so I over-compensate by not wanting to abandon anyone else. No matter what. Even when they hurt me, lie to me, take advantage of me – I will still be your friend.
Let’s not even get into relationships – for three years I dealt with verbal and emotional abuse, cheating, lying, manipulation, gas-lighting, and being financially used and I stayed because loyalty.
And patience? It’s endless. I am endlessly patient as I wait for you to change. Patient as I give you a million second-chances and opportunities for forgiveness. Patient as I belive that this time when you say you’re sorry and that you will change – you mean it.
At least – I used to be that way.
With self-love comes an awareness of your own toxic traits – even when those traits are rooted in niceness.
I thought that my loyal, patient, giving heart would make me valuable to other people and it does when there are good boundaries in your life. You’re surrounded by people who nourish you and who you nourish in return and those relationships grow with respect and mutual benefit.
But without boundaries these traits become toxic.
Without boundaries you allow yourself to be used and abused under the guise of being nice and good and kind and that reinforces whatever pre-existing fears you had about your self-worth. You’re not good enough. Kind enough. Nice enough. So you give even harder.
It becomes this never-ending cycle of give-give-give, get taken advantage of, and then give-give-give to make it better.
The same thing goes with patience and forgiveness. They are wonderful qualities but when there are no boundaries to go along with them, you put up with things far longer than you should and it compromises your sense-of-self and often your mental health as well.
I’ve learned to give – to a point.
I’ve learned that boundaries are essential and that for every one of your “nice” qualities there needs to be a point where you create and enforce a healthy boundary.
If you want, you can even write it all out so you can see where these traits are creating a toxic environment in your life.
Let’s say that you’re really forgiving – list all of the things that you’ve forgiven. Then circle the ones that have had a negative impact on your life or yourself. Those are your boundaries. Those things belong on the other side of the fence. That’s where you draw the line moving forward.
A fierce work ethic can have you neglecting all other aspects of your life. Empathy can have you internalizing the feelings of others to the detriment of your mental health. Humbleness can have you passing by opportunities that are perfect for you.
There’s a shadow-side to everything. Even our positive qualities or the traits that we love about ourselves need to have a system of checks and balances. On the surface, they look like assets but they can also be low-key toxic.
Saying no is hard. Creating boundaries is hard. It is also necessary.