Boundaries and Peer Pressure

by Jodi Cohen

How do you compromise your values or desires to make other people happy?

When I was in second grade we were assigned to make flowers out of colored construction paper, so I took great care to make a blue flower with a yellow center.  I was incredibly proud of my creation, but when my teacher came by to evaluate it, she insisted that flowers weren’t blue, ripped up my creation and demanded that I redo the project.

I accommodated her, creating a red tulip, but the experience never sat well with me.  Every time I notice a blue flower, I feel slightly validated (that blue flowers exist) and slightly annoyed that an individual in power felt the need to impose her will over me and that I allowed it.

I experienced a similar feeling this past week.

I had enrolled in a course to create my signature talk, hoping to fine tune the messaging around everything I have learned since my son Max’s untimely death.

The signature talk begins with a heart felt story, designed to help you connect to the audience.  I carefully crafted and shared my heartfelt story about losing Max and the anxiety and overwhelm it triggered only to be told that I cannot talk about losing my child because that will make other people uncomfortable.

The instructor suggested that I instead tell a story about overwhelm at work – because other people could relate and it wouldn’t make them too sad.

In other words, instead of speaking from my heart in the heart felt opening of my signature talk, he insisted that need to share a far less interesting story that accommodates other people’s comfort level.

This prompted me to question:  Do I need to set myself on fire to keep other people warm?  Or, do I follow my heart and my intuition and share the story I think the world needs to hear?


Setting Yourself on Fire to Keep Other People Warm

I spent the first half of my life setting myself on fire to keep other people warm, prioritizing everyone else’s needs over my own.

I was indoctrinated to believe that this made me a “good person” – I was kind to others and respected their needs and desired.

I often accommodated others without ever even letting them know that I was doing so or allowing myself to even consider what I wanted and if my needs and desires were aligned with my actions.

I was a “good girl” who followed the rules – I got good grades, got accepted into good schools, was offered good jobs, got married to a man who checked all the right boxes, had the two children and expected to live happily ever after.

And I did, until I didn’t, at which point I began to question the narrative, recognize when I was being asked to accommodate in ways that did not align with my best interests or desires.

And I began to say no.

In other words, I began to develop clear boundaries.


What are Boundaries?

Healthy boundaries are the limits you establish around yourself to protect your time, emotions, body, and mental health from the unhealthy, draining, or manipulative or damaging behavior of others.

Boundaries are the invisible lines and gates you have up to inform people what you are willing to do and not willing to do. These boundaries help define what you are willing to say “yes” to and what you decide to say “no” to. They give you a sense of agency and sovereignty over your decisions.

Boundaries also convey to people how they are allowed to treat you.  Clarity about your values and needs can help you create clear boundaries. The clearer you are about your identity and your needs, the easier it is to honor your own needs.

When you do not speak up for yourself nor demonstrate to others that you have boundaries, you are conveying to the universe that you do not value yourself.

If you lack boundaries, you may easily be persuaded into things you don’t want to do because you may be acting out of guilt or obligation rather than self-love.


Indications of Healthy Boundaries

  • You prioritize time for yourself
  • You only take on responsibilities you can handle; you don’t overcommit yourself
  • Authentically say “no” if you don’t have the energy or capacity to do something
  • Set limits for others without feeling bad
  • Take care of your own problems and understand that you cannot heal other people’s issues for them
  • You clearly communicate your needs and wants; you prioritize your self-care
  • Protect yourself from getting taken advantage of


Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries

  • You put other people’s needs and wants before your own
  • You over-commit your time to others and leave little time for yourself
  • You have a hard time saying “no”
  • You take on other people’s problems as your own
  • You feel guilty for expressing boundaries
  • You feel exhausted or burnt out by overwhelming commitments and responsibilities
  • You change yourself to fit in with different people



3 Essential Oils to Support Healthy Boundaries

The following essential oil blends may help you identify and support healthy boundaries for yourself and others

Heart™ for Clarity Around Your Intention

The more in touch you are with your heart and what you desire and do not desire, the easier it is to be clear on what you will allow and  will not allow into your life.

The Heart™ blend was formulated to balance the heart to support, integrate and reset all the systems of the body, including mental clarity, physical health and emotional balance. The heart is our body’s reset button.  By applying the Vibrant Blue Oils Heart™ blend over the heart, it helps return the heart to balance, and strengthen our ability to recognize what the heart needs and desires.

Small Intestine Support™ for Boundaries

On the physical level, the small intestine plays a critical role in the digestion process, absorbing and assimilating key nutrients while preventing harmful pathogens and toxins from entering the body.

On an emotional level, the small intestine plays a similarly discerning role with emotions, helping to understand experiences and determine healthy and appropriate relationships and boundaries.

It is also an area where we can hold deep childhood scars of rejection, abandonment or abuse; negative thoughts fueled by feelings of lack of self-worth, low self‐esteem, loneliness, neglect and anxieties about survival and success with can interfere with our ability to identify and support healthy boundaries.

Vibrant Blue Oils Emotion Balance Small Intestine Support™ blend supports the healthy functioning of the small intestine as it sorts and transforms food, feelings and ideas into useful ingredients for the body/mind.  It also helps correct imbalances where you are overly in tune with other’s criticism, feelings or opinions at the expense of your own.

Small Intestine Support™ can be smelled or applied around the ears.  You can start on the bottom of the ear at the earlobes and gentle massage upward along the exterior of the ear, hitting many of the major reflexology points.  This article and chart show specific points on the ears for specific issues.

Liver Support™ to Release Blame, Shame and Guilt

Standing up for yourself and your values at the risk of offending or hurting others requires courage and may bring up feelings of fear and uncertainty.  It is not uncommon for other people who have benefitted from your poor boundaries to push back or lash out when you try to instill healthy boundaries and pull back on your commitments to others.

They may use to blame, shame or guilt in an attempt to manipulate you and undermine your boundaries.

Going against them might feel overwhelming and scary, but essential oils like Liver Support™ may help you set some boundaries and reclaim the power of your time, energy, and mental well-being.

If you continually allow others to tell you what to do when it is not beneficial to you, you may begin to feel angry and resentful. Liver Support™ allows you to release anger, blame and shame that are often stored on very deep cellular level. Just place the bottle under your nose and breathe deeply, fully inhaling the oil for 3 – 7 breaths, then slowly exhaling while intentionally releasing the anger.  It helps you breathe into and work through the emotion.  You will know that the essential oil for blame is working when you stop smelling it.

You can also topically apply 2- 3 drops of Liver Support™ over your liver (right side of the body under the breast) to help work through and release your anger.  You can also apply it around the ankles as this is often an area where we hold resistance to moving forward in life and block the ability to receive joy and pleasure.  Start at the back of the ankle and apply under the ankle bone around to the front and back under the other ankle bone, all while allowing yourself to release your anger.


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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!