“Taking care of myself is a big job. No wonder I avoided it for so long.” —ANONYMOUS

Over twenty years ago, my daughter and nephew gave me a pajama for my birthday. My daughter held the old one up and said, “Mom, you bought this when I was in elementary school. You have taken care of everyone but yourself.” I laughed “You’ve been watching too much Oprah.” She was sophomore in college. My goodness! Has it been that long? Am I a codependent? [restrict[

One of the characteristics of codependency is: think and feel responsible for other people’s feelings, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, lack of well-being, and ultimate destiny.

“We cannot begin to make progress in learning to Love ourselves until we start being kind to ourselves in healthy ways. A very important part of being kind to ourselves is learning how to say no, and how to set, and be able to defend our boundaries.” writes Robert Burney, in his book, Codependency: The Dance of a Wounded Souls.

It takes tough love to let go allowing one to see that they better grow up or remain wallowing in the mud. And you can breathe again. Tough love means not giving in to their every whim. Everyone criticized, advised, but I chose not to budge. I kept my boundaries sturdy and uncompromising. I disciplined myself not to react … painfully watching the butterfly struggle out of the cocoon, trusting the One who made butterflies.

Children learn to respect authority when they experience loving and nurturing guides (father, mother, and teachers) who firmly protect them by setting and helping them to understand good boundaries.

Boundaries are necessary for a child’s security. Dr. Bradshaw says that children who are indulged and not given firm guidelines feel insecure, overly dependent, frightened, and angry. They will often act out this fearfulness in misbehavior. One example, “It’s time to turn off the television and go to bed.”

The purpose of having boundaries is to protect what is yours and take care of yourself. To maintain self respect, protect your self esteem and enjoy healthy relationships you have to recognize your need, to enforce and set limits, that’s why knowing and understanding your limits is necessary. The first step is to know that you have a right to protect yourself. This doesn’t mean building defense walls with your guns ready, it means being a good neighbor. “Alii, ku kiu a ngelong.” You can say, “No.”

My responsibility is to own my mistakes, feelings, and behavior. I will not blame anyone outside of my property line for my mistakes, feelings or my misbehavior.

We learned the first sign of maturity: “delay gratification… to keep long commitment” in previous article. Second is unshaken by flattery of criticism. As they mature they sooner or later understand that nothing is as good as it seems and nothing is as bad as it seems. Mature people can receive compliments or criticism without letting it ruin them or sway them into a distorted view of themselves. They are secure in their identity. [/restrict]