I have always wanted to help everybody or as many people as I could. Oftentimes, I would even put people before me. I am an empathetic person at heart, who has always believed in serving others, especially those closest to me, my family.

It wasn’t until I ended up in the hospital for a 5 day stay after having a mental breakdown that I realized that things had to change. I woke up to the reality that majority of the people I was helping didn’t actually want temporary help in order to progress. No! They wanted to make their loads lighter and still maintain the same poor choices and bad habits. This realization was hurtful and sparked a series of limitations that I put in place to protect myself from users and abusers, as well as break the cycle of enabling that I was a part of. The boundaries listed below will help you regain and keep control of your peace of mind and quality of life.

1. Cut off toxic family members.

First, we must define and identify who a toxic family member is and can be. In my very simple definition, a toxic person is anyone who pollutes your spirit or being with negativity, such as gossip, backbiting, backstabbing, manipulation, jealousy, envy, possessiveness, just to name a few. Examples of toxic people are narcissists and emotional, mental, and physical abusers. They may also constantly project a victim’s mentality. Once you see no behavior improvement, cut them off. You can start by limiting conversations or you can go cold turkey!

2. Limit your ability to help.

Helping is good, and luckily, there are many forms of help. Help doesn’t have to involve your money nor does it have to be a lot of your time. Help can be in the form of moral support through advice or guidance, connecting one to resources, and encouragement. Each of these options enabled the recipient to form their own opinions, take action for themselves, while reserving your energy.

3. Put yourself first.

Putting yourself first is not selfish. In fact, it is necessary and not doing so can be detrimental to your health and sanity. You can do this by creating time for yourself, having at-home spa days, having a date or outing by yourself, reading a new book, and giving yourself permission to be still and be free from a world full of hassles, if only for 20 minutes. Putting yourself first allows you to re-center, re-focus, and recharge your energy, your mind, and your focus. You owe this to yourself.

In conclusion, knowing your own predetermined limits when dealing with family members is imperative for your health and peace of mind. As much as we’d love to help our loved ones to succeed, their success, or lack thereof, should not come at the expense of your time, energy, or money. Family members, being the closest to us, are the most invasive of our personal space, in which calls for the establishment of boundaries.