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  • Writer's pictureGayatree Dipchan

Boundary setting after trauma


Boundaries provide security and the feeling that we are protected. We see this tangibly in our physical environments, but do we comfortably do this for ourselves to protect our mental health? Creating boundaries in our lives is an important step in self development. Many times we think that it's in context to others, but most times it related to our own experiences, relationships and situations and have little to do with others.


Personal boundaries are the rules we set for ourselves and others to ensure that our needs and wants are respected.


With every stage of life its important to evaluate and re-evaluate what is necessary for our growth. For many, this is difficult process as it means that we are stepping out of our comfort zones. By this, I mean we may have to confront unwanted behaviours and personalities that encroach on our abilities and space to thrive and be healthy. I love this quote by Brené Brown "Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others."


Traumatic experiences can have us questioning ourselves - what we need, who we can trust and how we see ourselves. It takes away an integral part of our identity without us being aware it is being altered. Working through your trauma can be a challenging journey. It is important to create the right environment to successfully move through your trauma.


Communicating your boundaries effectively can help support your trauma recovery.


Three benefits of communicating your boundaries are:

Effectively communicating boundaries
Communicating Boundaries - DBT - DEAR MAN strategy

  1. Increased Assertiveness. After a traumatic experience almost every individual you engage with ask how you're doing, followed by "So, what happened to you?" I remember a client from the Caribbean saying to me that after her sexual assault people would start sharing their own experiences of sexual assault with her, then give her advice on how to deal with it. She was constantly being triggered by people who thought they were being compassionate to her. Reminding her that she didn't need to hear or engage with anyone she didn't want to empowered her to start saying 'NO' to the unnecessary well-intentioned stories.

  2. Less personal resentment and negativity. Self blame is a common response to trauma and many times we overthink situations and end up in spaces where we are sabotaging our recovery. Victim blaming also exist in many societies and can easily influence how a trauma victim can see themselves as well as how others treat them. When we begin to set limits on who we interact with and how we engage with others we begin to communicate our expectations clearly.

  3. We purposely and intentionally redirect to The Who, The What and The Where we want to expend our time and energy with. We make the choices that can set a new course or we learn new ways of engaging and interacting with others who are supplementing our positive outlook.


Take a moment and consider what you truly need.


Explore your strengths and needs. As you move through your healing, you will find that you are rethinking your boundaries continually.


This is normal and very OK.


When you are unsure of whether your boundaries are too rigid or too weak, take small steps in altering your boundaries, continually assessing and reassessing your safety.


Remember that safety isn't only about physical surroundings, but also being emotionally able to share with others without feeling judged or criticised for choices and experiences.

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