Kim Keller’s Perspectives On Creating Healthy Boundaries

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I used to think that supporting others and their mental health was one thing and one thing only – I was available anytime someone needed to offload all their stressors onto me.

What I used to think supporting others’ mental health was:

  • Call or text me anytime

  • My door is always open

  • Being someone’s emotional dumping ground and/or punching bag

  • “You should try” – Helping others fix their issues by trying to fix them myself

Not having healthy boundaries for myself and being the emotional dumping ground for others led me to become a very unhealthy and unsafe version of myself. I didn’t know my limits until they were tested. I was no longer me. I was an empty container being filled with others’ problems, carrying their weight and my own resentment for the position I had put myself in. Outwardly I was the person everyone could go to; I repeated it over and over “call me anytime” and “my door is always open” because that’s what good support looks like…right? Wrong.

Here’s the truth: You don’t have to sacrifice yourself to support someone else. We need to be thoughtful about how we step into our role as supporters for everyone in the relationship to be able to take care of their mental health.

Supporting others starts with recognizing the level of support you can actually give and communicating that with others honestly. Secondly, it also requires us to support and do the hard work on ourselves. Being healthy and safe for others means being healthy and safe for yourself.

What does providing good support to others now mean and look like to me?

  • Creating healthy boundaries for me that give me the time, space, energy to take care of myself.

  • Communicating those boundaries with those around me and for myself

  • Regular and prioritized self care

  • Growing self awareness

  • Evolving and updating my own mental health knowledge

  • Recognizing my own behaviour and addressing toxic behaviour or patterns

  • Knowing I can step back and when to remove myself from the situation

  • Knowing what professional help is available and how to access is

  • Applying skills behind the scenes to bring access to resources

  • Understanding the different levels of support I can and am able to provide, such as listening, providing information and resources or finding solutions.

The level of support I can and am able to provide may be different from yours, but it starts with ourselves. Being supportive in a crisis is never easy. I hope that by reading this, you have a clearer idea of how to proceed in a responsible and empowered way. The next time you’re tempted to say “call me anytime”, ask yourself, “can I actually give that?” Offer the support that allows you to securely fasten your own oxygen mask before reaching for anybody else’s. You deserve to stay well as you support others. And when we’re intentional about how we show up, we can be.

Written by Kim Keller

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