Setting personal boundaries will someday be my forte’.
Recently, I found myself in an all-too-familiar position: someone in my sphere of existence was treading all over my space in what felt like gigantic, heavy, loud and cumbersome boots.
On the surface, everything SHOULD have been fine, except for the fact that my energy was screaming at me to fix this perceived intrusion.
When I recognized that I have been in this position before, that I very clearly remember having similar feelings of frustration and suffocation, I paused to consider why I would invite that back into my awareness. Apparently, I hadn’t quite finished learning a lesson or mastering a skill – at least that is how I view it when an “old familiar feeling” crops up.
I recalled feeling crowded, even bulldozed, in my own energy – with non-stop requests for my time and attention, followed up by energetic pouting when I didn’t meet the other person’s expectations. I could feel all of it.
And rather than speak up for myself, my prior tendency had been to internalize my growing irritation until it would blow up at the end of a long fuse in dramatic fashion… most typically with me choosing that the most effective way to restore my own sanity was to just cut the other person out of my life.
I’m not saying I handled it well. But, this time, I knew I wanted to handle it differently.
So, I paused to consider what part I was playing in the situation. As it simmered on the backburner of my mind, I heard myself saying out loud in an unrelated conversation with a friend,“You can’t claim that someone is cramping your style when you don’t even know what your style is!”
Light-bulb aha! moment:
How can anyone else honor my boundaries if I haven’t set them?
It’s so easy to blame the other person!
“She constantly sends me messages and invades me personal space!”
“He doesn’t get it that I can’t talk all day, every day!”
“They just won’t take no for an answer!”
Hello, people. Here’s a big fat moment of truth for you. Setting personal boundaries is YOUR job. Nobody else can do it for you. And all those imagined conversations you’re afraid of, your worry that the other person will be offended or think less of you simply because you decline an offer… these are side effects of your people pleasing nature.
These fears aren’t real, they are imaginary.
And I have proof.
Acknowledging Responsibility for Boundaries
In my situation, I acknowledged how I had mishandled the setting of personal boundaries in my past. I had expected the other person(s) to know, yet I’d never made it clear. I probably could have salvaged several friendships by taking the time to explain myself and my needs before feeling like I was bombarded.
So, this time, even though it was difficult for me and out of my comfort zone, I went to this person and explained myself. I asked for a bit of distance, so that we could calibrate our dynamic. I then took responsibility for not being very clear at the beginning of our relationship. For example, I was uncharacteristically available to spend time socially over an entire weekend when we first met. So, naturally, she would assume that I am always that available.
How could she possibly know that I’m an introvert who requires solitary time on a regular basis just to rejuvenate? Or that I divvy up my “free” time between a handful of projects, and that I sometimes don’t see my best friends for weeks at a time?
Unless I took the time to explain it to her.
Which, once I got started, was actually pretty easy.
And very well-received.
This particular conversation was the catalyst for a shift for both of us. I no longer saw her as trying to hoard my time/attention, and I no longer saw myself as a victim. We now get to spend time together, perhaps gardening on a Saturday afternoon, and it’s just peachy if we don’t see each other again for a few weeks, or more.
The moral of this story is simple:
Friends, setting personal boundaries is your responsibility.
Imagine how your relationships change when you express your needs!
With mucho a latte of love and respect,
Your Transformation Tour Guide