A Communication Tool For Boundaries and Codependency

How Non-Violent Communication helped me have good boundaries

Amanda O’Bryan
8 min readDec 15, 2020

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Photo by Kate Kalvach on Unsplash

Growing up as the youngest in my family meant learning to go with the flow. I rarely could voice my opinion, and when I did, it wasn’t taken seriously. I wore hand-me-downs and looked up to my brothers. They told me what music I should listen to. I played the games they wanted to play and watched the shows they liked to watch. The things I loved, roller skating, playing with My Little Ponies, dancing — meant being alone. All my memories of playing with my brother consist of Transformers, jumping in giant piles of leaves, climbing trees, and doing all the things he wanted to do.

The result of my experience is that I grew up without a strong sense of self. I grew up without really know what I personally valued or liked. As I became a teenager, I started to explore those things but was rejected by my peers and felt even more at odds with myself.

Looking back, I can see little hints of my true self glimmering through, but they were often stamped out by boyfriends. Like a copy of my brothers telling me what was right and good, I looked to my dates for the same approval.

Codependency — the gift of many empaths

Codependency is letting your emotions be determined by the actions of others. It’s needing the approval of others in order to feel whole.

People-pleasing is putting others’ needs above your own, consistently, and to the detriment of your own health.

Being a people-pleaser means that you are spending a lot of time thinking about other people’s feelings. Worrying about their feelings. And trying to control their feelings. You feel responsible for others’ feelings. This is something that I’ve been working on now for about 3 years. I came to it very late in life. It has not been an easy path.

Because of my codependency, I’ve struggled my whole life with boundaries. To have boundaries meant I first had to discover my own values, likes, and dislikes. I had to learn to allow these things to guide my behavior, even if I was afraid of how it would make others feel.

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Amanda O’Bryan

Psychologist and Human mood ring.