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  • Writer's pictureTopsail Times

Healing Trauma By Setting Healthy Boundaries

The grass isn't always greener on the other side. But if you water your own lawn, seed it, and give it lots of sunshine, it will definitely grow and thrive.

Trauma survivors often struggle with poor boundaries, leaving them feeling unprotected, disappointed in themselves and others, and often with an emotional hangover. Trauma recovery and/or being a survivor means restoring boundaries to regain a sense of safety.

How Trauma Damages Boundaries

Prolonged trauma erodes boundaries around physical/emotional safety, time, identity, and trust in self and others, creates maladaptive patterns of survival, negative cognitions and beliefs about the world, cognitive distortions around current events in your life, and a baseline of generalized anxiety, shutdown or despair.

This may impair the connection to the body's boundary signals. If you cannot get a felt sense of danger resolved through communication, then action, next, in polyvagal theory terms, trauma triggers a “freeze” response, shutting down the ventral vagal nerve that regulates social engagement and boundary control (Dana, 2018).

Parts like the wounded inner child or angry protector may take over, unable to detect boundary violations and wreak havoc on our lives and sense of self (Schwartz, 2021). In ego state language, the traumatized child mode displaces the healthy adult mode needed for boundaries in the present.

Ways To Get Regulated

Somatic Experiencing focuses on retuning awareness of inner sensory cues indicating crossed boundaries so they can be communicated (Levine, 2010). EMDR targets maladaptive trauma responses hindering boundary-setting (Shapiro, 2018).

Importance of Boundaries in Trauma Recovery

Reclaiming boundaries enables survivors to regain autonomy, power, and self-protection after trauma (Bremmer, 2022).

With a mindful effort to integrate these approaches, trauma survivors can reestablish healthy boundaries and feel safer. This journey could reclaim what trauma took away; any unmet developmental needs may be rediscovered and resolved, and the therapeutic journey and relationship could act as a mold for current and future healthy relationships.

You've got this.

....and if they don't, gently remind them to.


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