Lately I feel like I’m having a lot of opportunities to set boundaries.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve nearing 40 and have realized that without clearly enforced boundaries, everyone on the planet will try to suck me dry.
Perhaps it’s because I am reeximining what I am, and am not, willing to do with my life at the end of a 12 year marriage in which a lot of boundaries were crossed because I didn’t enforce them.
Maybe I’m just not afraid of you, or you, or “they,” or “everybody” anymore.
Maybe I’ve liked and loved myself enough that I don’t really need you to like or love me.
Either way, I’m noticing boundaries and the act of setting them and experimenting with how best to enforce them without turning into a bitch, over-reacting or letting the wrong stuff slide. I’m simply being aware of my feelings enough to decide what I’m willing, or not, to do. I’m noticing that I can say yes or no and the world doesn’t cave in and people usually still talk to me afterward. And if they don’t? At least I haven’t betrayed myself.
Light Bulb Bubble: Everyone crosses boundaries! Not just lame people or mean people or people who suck. Everyone. I’ve realized I have to set clear enforceable boundaries with everyone from my minister, my kids, my family, my clients, my friends, my neighbors — everyone.
I guess I always thought that people were being mean or jerky when they insisted on crossing my boundaries. Now, I realize that if you don’t enforce your boundaries then they don’t really exist.
Tips on Boundary Setting
The key to knowing what your own boundary even is is to tune into your own emotions. Is this making me angry? Am I feeling an odd vibe here?
Then, the question is, why am I feeling this way? Have they asked me to do something that goes against my own value system? Is this something I simply don’t have time for? Am I feeling pressured to do something I don’t want to do?
Figure out where the line is for you. You remember that line from that Meatloaf song “Idl do anything for love, but I won’t do that!” Well, what is that for you? You’ll volunteer to run this program, but you will not volunteer for that one? You have time for this assignment, but not for that one? You’ll take this amount of pay for that kind of work, but not this kind? Where is your line?
Then the best idea is to figure out how to enforce your boundary. Hopefully, without being rude or disruptive or damaging perfectly good relationships. . . while clearly illustrating what your boundary is and what the consequences will be if crossed. Often all you need to say is, that’s not going to work for me.
One recent example: A vitamin company took forever sending me my order. I sent them an email and they attempted to pass the responsibility of finding my order to me. Uh, no. I said. It’s your responsibility to get the order to my door, you call the carrier and track the item. Then the order got lost, though the post office said it was delivered. Then they tried to get me to find out what happened to it. No, I said, that’s your responsibility. Finally I asked that they send my order again. They did. Then voila, my order was found. Then they told me that I had to refuse service, though they didn’t specify that I have to sign for the package, which means I won’t even see the mailman when he comes. They wanted me to eat the shipping. No, I said, the item was late, then lost, I’m not paying for return shipping. Then they threatened to charge me again if I didn’t pay for shipping. Then I explained that they do not have permission to access my checking account in any way. Finally, they told me to have a nice day and to enjoy my extra supplements.
These people tried to cross my boundaries over and over and over. But, I held steady. And it’s not just companies. It’s my kids and everyone else I have anything to do with. Really.
Oh and it should be noted that I don’t have to have a “good” reason to set a boundary. I don’t want to is plenty good right there.
Boundary crossing is so ordinary, that it’s kind of crazy that we aren’t better at drawing the line in the sand and asking people to step back over the line when it’s crossed.
This is not going to work for me.
Those are life-saving key words right there.