Boundaries. Some of us are good at setting them and others are not. I ebb and flow in my stance on boundaries. It depends on the situation and it depends on who else is involved. What I do know is that each and every situation I am in creates the moment to decide how I am going to handle my own boundaries. There are different levels of boundaries we must monitor on a day-to-day basis.
Maybe we have a family member that asks too much of us and we always say yes, or maybe it is how they treat us, thinking that there is only one way or one answer to a problem. It could be that they completely disregard our thoughts and opinions and think about what they want, or what they think we should do with our life, never understanding that we have to make our own decisions. A friend might take too much from us in an unbalanced way. A child that has us wrapped around their finger. A boss that does not allow no for an answer.
All of these can be challenging situations depending on who is on the other end of the conversation. Often I think that others do not know how their demands on us affect us. They expect others to have their own filters, to be able to say no when they hit their limit. That is unrealistic though. Love, guilt, compassion, and never learning to say no have a strong hold on us. Often we do not want to disappoint those we love, so we say yes, we move forward with no boundaries and suffer the consequences. Whether that means we allow too much on our plate, we get burned out, or we find that we become resentful.
Speaking up for what you want and what you are willing to do means you create the life that feels right to you. Even if that means upsetting an in-law, sibling, friend, or co-worker. You are only you if you speak up for what you need. That might mean saying no. It might mean saying yes — but with specific limits. At the very least take time to listen to your inner voice and decide what you truly want. Then you can battle the naysayers in your mind, speak up for yourself, and ultimately create the boundaries you need. Definitely not easy, but doable?
Do you remember times growing up when you told adults what they wanted to hear? Why did we do that? In our youth we should have felt free to say exactly what was on our mind.
I remember my grandma would buy my sister and me a dress each Easter. It was our Easter Sunday dress. Usually I hated it. I would wear it on Easter Sunday and then hide it in the back of my closet in hopes that she would never remember that she purchased it for me (or that I never wore it again). As I got older my mom encouraged me to just tell my grandma that I did not like it and that I would like to return it. It was always hard for me to tell her. I felt awful. I always thought I was hurting her feelings. Bummer, right?
a smile for the smurf cake, not sure about that dress though…
So…I wonder…what is it that makes kids feel they cannot be upfront? What made me just want to hide the dress and not discuss it with her? Partly I think it had to do with my dad who often would shut us down if we ever got the guts to confront him (which was rare). I think it imbedded into my thick skull that confrontation and speaking my mind was a bad thing. I was being disrespectful to my elders.
Something shifted inside me in college, almost to the opposite extreme, where now it is hard for me to keep my mouth shut. Now, that does not mean that I do not hold back. It also does not mean that I just steamroll everyone. I am pointed and thoughtful about my confrontation, but I feel less and less uncomfortable with saying what needs to be said.
What if we were able to raise children that had no fear of taking risks? Of speaking their mind and confronting their elders rationally? Does that teach them how to continue in their life with strength, poise, and determination? Sounds better to me than putting on that balloon dress to avoid confrontation.