PTSD AND UNHEALTHY BOUNDARIES
One common path of PTSD that I often observe in the office, takes the route through UNHEALTHY BOUNDARIES. Patients and friends who are caring GIVERS are often the individuals who experience a tough time setting positive boundaries relating to TIME, ENERGY, HELP, VOLUNTEERING, FAMILY, FRIENDS, ETC. This is not a fault of your own: with perpetual giving, the program of helping is set in your neurology, it’s your gifting, and you enjoy it! However, this program is engaged ANYTIME you hear of anyone or anything needing help. It does not matter if the situation drains you of energy; you will take it upon yourself because you may think “It’s my duty.”
Remember, if there is no boundary to the giving, then it can get out of hand. Think of it this way, if you give or help in an unhealthy pattern, that programmed thinking can grow nerve pathways in the brain meant only for that type of behavior. Following a pattern without boundaries can eventually create a belief-“I am only accepted for what I give. And I must give everything.” The thought can become normal to you, and you then operate out of this belief.
The biochemical response in your body, from living without healthy boundaries, triggers and activates your stress glands: pineal, pituitary, hippocampus, adrenals, thyroid, and reproductive(ovaries and testes). Hormonal burnout of these glands can occur if no limits are set in place.
We mostly think of PTSD coming from receiving trauma, but many times it can be from the exhaustion of giving without boundaries...unhealthy expectation on ourselves. PTSD results when the body is drained of energy, whether it is from giving or receiving.
GIVING IS NOT BAD. Giving without healthy limits can be. No self limits can lead to PTSD. One negative side-effect...you build resentment to the people or the things you are helping. When you think about them, your body can have PTSD symptoms automatically. Chronic fatigue can make giving a traumatic event.
Have you ever cringed or felt anxious when you wake up and think of all the things you “have to do”, especially for other people? Your body sees your to-do-list and will respond with PTSD symptoms, “fight or flight”, anxiety, and burn out. Simply because you don’t have any energy or biochemicals left to give. Burnout refers to the exhaustion of your stress hormones such as: adrenaline, cortisol, T3(thyroid hormone), testosterone, estrogen, and dopamine. When you help anyone or anything to the point of exhaustion you “tag” them as causes of exhaustion. Now anything, anyone, or any event that resembles them will create the same PTSD because of the “tag.”
With PTSD and unhealthy boundaries:
- Sit, close your eyes, and breathe. Become aware of who or what pushes you past your boundaries.
- Identify the feelings you feel when you encounter or think of them.
- Analyze if the specific people, things, events, etc. truly create growth in you.
- If not, pray, meditate, and seek if this is a season to take a break from them. Intentionally visualize what your body will feel like when you do this...is it a good thing?
- Remember, letting go of things that do not promote growth will give you more energy for people and things that truly warrant your help. Increase your filters
- Utilize the steps on clearing PTSD emotion patterns from previous post:)
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