Did you ever look back on a relationship or friendship and think to yourself that the signs were there all along? You were so busy making excuses in your head for the other person that your space, your wants and needs, were clearly being victimized over and over again. It could even happen at work. I was once NOT a master at setting boundaries. I had clients who walked all over me, and messaged me morning, noon and night…like right as I sat down to have time with my family.
I would see the blinking phone light and then see who it was and always be prompt with answering them. I valued my great customer service as I had the highest number of clients in my business group at one time other than the person above me making 10 times what I made. But for me, it was about building good relationships. While I still believe in great customer service and value my clients, I recognized that I let people drain me both physically and mentally in my life. It was time to put an end to what I was letting happen TO me, and take control so that I could make things better FOR me.
How did I start setting boundaries that were good for me?
- I looked at how it made me FEEL when these people didn’t value my time. It was lots of people. Friends, clients, and people who were part of my business. What was the underlying reason I allowed this? I realized that I let the other person’s “stuff” get to me like it was my own. Interesting. What made me a good listener was my empath skills and how I always put myself in the other person’s shoes…sometimes almost literally as I could feel so much more than they told me; however, this was not helping me help them. I had to learn to separate myself from their feelings.
- I had to decide what my core values were and then recognize HOW this person was crossing them. What matters most to me is honesty, and once I felt this boundary line in relationships being crossed or tested, I was able to see that it made me feel quite literally “sick” and used. This feeling would come up immediately and I knew it was time to let that person know right then and there that they either weren’t telling me the whole truth, or they were flat-out lying. It did lead to 2 friendships being severed that were draining…mostly because they were married, but not to each other, and things were getting out of hand with their stories. I insist on trust in my marriage with my husband of 18 years, so naturally what they did made me feel “sick” again in my stomach. It was a sign that I had been ignoring…but not anymore.
- I couldn’t change their actions…so I changed mine. I didn’t want to keep repeating Einstein’s definition of insanity. They kept treating me the same and I kept expecting different results. The problem was, I was changing. I was starting to see things clearly and see what I needed to do to surround myself with positive feelings. Here’s the deal, the grandma who says the same things over and over, the co-worker who gossips about you all day long, the spouse who repeats the same behavior over and over, they aren’t going to suddenly change. Why wait for what ifs and maybes. Start putting up those clear lines by changing how you handle them.
- Decide clearly HOW you are going to set that boundary and WHAT will happen IF someone crosses the line. In some cases, it’s only a matter of time before they do x,y,z that you mentioned you don’t like. Stop. Assess your feelings, and if you have told them in no uncertain terms not to do this, then it’s up to you on how you move forward. I realize that people test this, but I am a person who doesn’t mind cutting off ties if it means that my emotional health is still in tact. Boundaries are all about your needs, and not the other person. Does this sound hard to do? Not to me anymore. Here is why, I had gotten so sick and so drained from trying to take care of everyone at once that I wasn’t able to take care of myself any longer at all. For me, it was really about living a healthy life again. I simply had nothing left to give these people who were taking. I knew that my boundaries were deep inside of me and attached to who I was and that every time I let someone walk all over them, they were showing me that they didn’t value me at all.
- I had to mean exactly what I said and then, in order to move forward, I had to let go of any feelings of guilt. I had to get grounded so that I wasn’t made to feel like it was my fault. Clearly, you need respect in any relationship. My emotions were valid for me. It was not about them as I simply had to take care of myself. Sure we are sometimes afraid of telling people the truth, but if you do, and the other person sends you a hate filled e-mail or writes about how THEY would deal with that situation, or even worse, tries to change your feelings like you can’t and aren’t allowed to feel the way you do, well it’s bye-bye time for me. They don’t see me again for many years. Trust me when I tell you that it was hard at first, but has gotten to the point now where I can tell who is going to test this, and who is going to respect this. I have to ground myself daily, and I can’t go into the space where the negative energy lies. It serves no purpose and I know what my purpose is. It is really and truly to help others move forward.