How to Maintain Your Boundaries When You Have ADHD

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When you have healthy boundaries, you feel safe, happy physically healthy and respected. In contrast, authors of the book "Boundaries" Henry Cloud and John Townsend say when boundaries are being crossed, problems such as depression, anxiety, addictions, guilt and shame, and relationship issues can occur..

Here are three common examples of how boundaries can be crossed when you have ADHD.

You feel guilty or ashamed of yourself and some of your typical ADHD behavior.

You say things such as, “I don’t know how they put up with me.” As a way to compensate and keep people happy, you push aside your own needs and say yes to their requests and wishes.

Spouses, parents, and friends cross your boundaries, believing they are helping. They might do tasks for you, thinking you might forget or do it late. Even though these things can be well-meaning, it can still be frustrating to you and erode your confidence in your own abilities.

Decision making can be hard when you have ADHD. Spending time with a person who is decisive and makes decisions easily can feel great. Problems occur when they make decisions for you and take offense if you do something different. Only you can make decisions about your life because only you know what makes you happy.

Here are 6 suggestions to help you maintain your own boundaries.

Learn about boundaries

Knowledge is power. The more you learn about boundaries, the more empowered you feel about maintaining yours.

The book, ‘Boundaries’ by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is considered a classic and a great place to start.

Get comfortable saying No

It is very easy when you have ADHD to impulsively say yes to things. You might also feel the need to be a people-pleaser and say yes when you would rather say no. Whatever your reason for saying yes, practice the art of saying no to requests.

Start with the easy ones and build up to the harder ones.

Set a good example

It's hard to ask people to respect your boundaries if you are crossing their boundaries. Classic ADHD characteristics like impulsively interrupting someone when they are speaking and being late, make respecting other people's boundaries challenging, but absolutely possible! To learn about how to respect other people’s boundaries when you have ADHD, head here.

Get to know yourself

It can be easy to lose yourself in the busyness of life and people’s demands. When you decide to start to enforce your boundaries, don’t be surprised if you aren’t sure what yours are. As you start to get to yourself, pay attention to how you feel. If something happens and it doesn’t make you feel good, that is a sign that a boundary has been crossed and you can do something about it.

Be brave

Not enforcing your boundaries leads to you feeling resentful, angry, and it robs you of your time. However, when you start to respect your boundaries, it can feel scary. People can get angry when you say no when they are used to you saying say yes. They might say things such as, “how could you do this?”, “you are being too sensitive”, etc. When these things happen, remember why you are doing this, and stay strong.

Consider working with a therapist

Because building strong boundaries requires you to become more assertive and stand up for yourself in new ways, it can be helpful to work with a therapist to help you develop these skills.

Henry Cloud, Boundaries, Zondervan, Tradebooks, 2002

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