Setting and Maintaining Boundaries when You are Autistic or Neurodivergent


Hi, everyone. NeuroRebel here this week we’re going to talk about how you can set boundaries as a Neurodivergent person. This is something you have requested a lot – so let’s dive into this one.

[00:00:50] When I first discovered I was Autistic at the age of 29, it was because I was going through Autistic burnout and that’s because I was in a perpetual state of burning myself out because I didn’t know I was Autistic and I didn’t know how to establish healthy boundaries with the neurotypical people around me that kept insisting I didn’t really need the things I was saying I needed.

[00:01:19]All of that dismissal of my own thoughts and needs for so many years, 29 years, not knowing – led me to being someone who really, really struggled with boundaries and I found that reflecting on my life, a lot of the things I did were things I was doing, not because I even wanted to do them.

[00:01:42] I was doing things that I thought I was supposed to do living the life I thought I was supposed to live and behaving in ways that I really thought society needed me to behave and I was never more miserable than when I was keeping up with all that.

[00:02:00] I had to learn that my boundaries do matter and my needs do matter even when there are people around who don’t understand my needs, and sometimes people can be just downright dismissive of the things I need, or even the things I enjoy and want to spend my time doing. I’ve had to learn all over again that I need to push back – especially when people tell me I am complaining too much, making a big deal of nothing or similar comments like it’s not that bad.

[00:02:39] Learning to set boundaries in my thirties hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been easy. It’s a process I’m learning to get better at this every day but it’s important to learn to set boundaries because it’s not only about getting your needs met.

[00:02:57] Setting, healthy boundaries is to help you maintain relationships with other people. It is one way that I love myself, yes, but it is also the way that I love other people in my life and I can’t have healthy relationships with other people if I do not have healthy boundaries with them.

[00:03:22] What I mean by that is if I allow someone to cross my boundary, it harms my relationship with that person because I may feel taken advantage of or harbor some ill will and I don’t want to have bad feelings about someone I care about. It can cause a loss of trust in the relationship and this is all something that could’ve just been avoided in the first place by me saying no, or being more firm in my needs.

[00:03:53]It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially if you have a history of letting people violate your boundaries, you’re going to have to build up a new skill of standing up for what you want and need.

[00:04:10] In my case, people had told me over and over again for almost 30 years, that my needs were unreasonable and just not valid and they told me things like, Oh, you know, the sensory stuff, isn’t that bad, those lights aren’t that bright –  it’s not that cold in here.  You’re just, you’re just complaining too much. Why are you complaining too much?

[00:04:32]I didn’t know back then that these comments weren’t true because I didn’t know I was Autistic, so I just took them to heart. I didn’t understand that I processed the world in a different way and it’s actually likely that the people telling me “things weren’t that bad” meant well, and they didn’t realize things were actually a lot worse then they understood because they didn’t know I was autistic either. They didn’t understand sensory processing differences. I didn’t understand sensory processing differences. I didn’t even really know I had sensory processing differences for almost 30 years.

[00:05:12] All I knew was I kept getting migraines almost every day and I didn’t know why, because it was fluorescent lighting and it was really bad for me. Now I know that – no more migraines. I haven’t had a migraine knock on wood and I don’t know how lon. Let’s hope it stays that way, but so far just taking care of my sensory needs and avoiding those lights has done the trick for me. It’s that simple, 30 years of migraines. Whoa, Gone!

[00:05:44] But I had 30 years of migraines. I suffered in silence for 30 years because in school, when I told the nurse, I was having headaches every day, the nurse told my mom and me that I needed to go to class and the nurse was under the impression that I was just trying to skip class and so I assumed everyone must have these headaches and so they’re just tougher than me and I just need to shut up and deal with it.

[00:06:16]Things like this can happen over and over again and autistic person’s life and it can make it very difficult for us when we do try to speak up and advocate for our needs, especially if we’ve been told so frequently that we start to believe our needs are unreasonable.

[00:06:34] Like we’ve been told our needs are unreasonable and we believe it because whedn a hundred people have told you the same thing throughout your life. Well, eventually it sinks in that it must be true, even if it isn’t. So there’s a lot of damage that has to be undone for a lot of us if we haven’t developed boundaries or if our boundaries have been violated and taken away from us.

[00:06:57] For those of us who are learning late in life, how to have boundaries, how to set boundaries.

[00:07:06] People always ask – ” I don’t know how to set boundaries. I’ve never done this before.” And it’s a new skill. Like any new skill. This is going to take practice. So practice makes perfect. You may have some sloppy attempts at setting boundaries early on but the more you do it, it will get easier that I do promise you. It will get easier the more you practice it.

[00:07:36] So how?

[00:07:37] Let, let me show you how I’ve got. I’ve just got a few tips. Write these down. This will make your life easier if you are learning to set boundaries as a neurodivergent person.

[00:07:47] Number one, know what you need. Know what you want and need.  If you don’t know what your needs are, take some time to figure out what you actually need to be successful and what you want, and maybe do a writing exercise to solve that. That’s that’s the first thing you’ve got to do before you even start to ask for things, because if you can’t ask for something, if you don’t know what you want.

[00:08:13] Once you know what you want, you must be direct with what you need – direct with your needs and don’t apologize for your needs. No shame in having needs. Everyone has needs just because your needs are different and other people might not understand them doesn’t make them wrong.

[00:08:38] You need to learn to let people know when you are maxed out at capacity needed a break. Can’t take on anymore, have all that you can handle on your plate. And if you think about this in the work world, I promise your boss is going to be much happier if you let them know upfront that you don’t have the availability to take on the current project otherwise another project might be late – instead of taking on a project, not saying anything, and then having your project turned in past the deadline or doing subpar work because you didn’t have availability because you said yes to something you shouldn’t commit to. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.

[00:09:30] Don’t do this with family either.  If you need to go home and rest after something and everyone’s like, come on, let’s go out. Let’s go out. You don’t need to go home and rest.

[00:09:40] No. If you know, you need to rest and going out is going to be a one track path to a meltdown town. No, don’t do this to yourself. It’s not going to be good in the long run. It’s also very important that you learn to say no to opportunities that don’t suit your lifestyle or your needs like saying no, I need to go home after work. If that’s the case and a big part of that is also only saying yes, when you really want to say yes, this is so important.

[00:10:22] Don’t say yes to things out of obligation or to please other people. Ask yourself when you agree to things. “Am I doing this because I really want to do this or am I doing this because I think somebody else wants me to do this, or because I feel like it’s the thing that’s expected of me to do?”

[00:10:47] it’s going to take practice to get better at creating boundaries and once you start creating boundaries with people, especially if they’ve been in your life already, and aren’t used to you setting boundaries with them, people may test your boundaries and push back on them because they’re not used to them being there.

[00:11:13] You’re gonna have to do a lot more legwork as you first get this started, especially with those people that have been around for awhile. But once you’ve set that new boundary, you’ve drawn your line in the sand eventually over and over again, people are going to realize you are serious and you mean business. You’ve just got to show them this is the case, unfortunately, don’t cave. You got this.

[00:11:41] Thank you each and every one of you so much for being here today, if you found this content helpful, be sure to follow, subscribe, and turn on notifications, because I do put out new videos once a week, currently every Wednesday.

[00:11:58] And if you found this helpful please share because my goal is to educate and provide useful, helpful, content.

[00:12:07] If you want more you can subscribe to neurodivergent rebel on Patrion. Subscription is now as low as $10 a year. As a special thank you to those of you who subscribe in 2020. If you are a subscriber starting 2020 through the year I publish my autobiography, which is still a work in progress TBD, I will be printing those names as a thank you in the back of my book for helping me support self publishing and helping support the blog and making quality content possible. I couldn’t do it without viewers like you.

[00:12:50] Thank you so much. I am extremely grateful. I will talk to you next week. Bye .


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