What Growing Up In A Cult Taught Me About Boundaries

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You might think that growing up in a cult had no boundaries – but it had plenty.

They were just set for you as a matter of course – rules, structures and expectations were outlined from the moment of birth – right through from how often to take breaks, what to read, what your purpose was and what was ok to say or not say.

Coercive control or groupthink meant that those of us growing up in the Children of God cult didn’t get a chance to reflect on why boundaries were important, much less have the agency to practice setting healthy ones.

In the situation this sometimes felt like order and consistency, like I was being taken care of and the ‘why’ was clear – for the sake of the greater good, question nothing and you’ll stay safe etc.

However, over time and when adapting into the adult world outside of the cult, there was no structure for understanding what I needed. I didn’t know how to set a healthy boundary so instead, I shape-shifted to fit into what anyone else needed, made sure everyone else was ok and assumed that I simply didn’t have needs.

Over time what I now know as people-pleasing behaviour had a hugely negative affect on me. For me, I spiralled into alcohol addiction as a way of releasing the pressure on things I could not say, I descended into depression, anxiety and walked the tightrope of burnout for years – the impact of decades of hypervigilance and not fully breathing.

In my work as a psychotherapist and mental health consultant, I see many clues in the corporate world as to why many people are more burnt out, depressed or anxious than ever.

Groupthink plays a huge part in how people make decisions or sacrifice what their own body and mind needs, in favour of keeping the peace or hitting that next deadline. In a post pandemic world where we’ve been in a feeling of survival for so long, many people are feeling the delayed impact of being there for others or playing by the rules, experiencing burnout, overwhelm, a feeling of hopelessness and a variety of mental health issues.

Content retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/what-growing-up-in-a-cult-taught-me-about-boundaries_uk_64537998e4b0452cee9ba3f5.

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