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A boundary is a line - visible or invisible - that defines and establishes identity. Boundaries (picture a fence) enclose and exclude to protect. Some invisible boundaries are beliefs, creeds, rules and regulations by which we order our lives. These bonds surround and define whether it be political, religious, military, civic, familial, gang or cult. This is who we are, what we believe, what we stand for and what we do. Without boundaries, you cease to exist. Here are some guidelines for setting personal boundaries.
Determine who you are. To establish who you are and who you want to become, clarify who you are not and what you will not allow. Examples: I am not a dumping ground or a punching bag. I do not like foul language so I will not use it or permit it in my presence. I am a person of value and will not be diminished, dismissed or disregarded. Controlling or allowing yourself to be controlled are equally destructive to a relationship.
Speak up. Although being pro-active is preferred, in the learning stages post-active is okay. It is better late than never. Whether the issue is addressed pre, present or post, the other person may see it as nagging. That is irrelevant. Be confident that you are broaching the issue for the good of the whole. Yes, it will bring peace to you but know that it will also benefit others as they learn to become better citizens of family and society.
Be firm yet kind. Firmness shows respect for yourself and that your boundaries are not to be violated; kindness shows respect to the one being corrected. We teach people how to treat us. That they can dump or disregard and we will take it, or that we will not be treated in that manner. Until you become comfortable in speaking up, it may initially come off as hostile. Do not be put off by their off putting. Do not be intimidated and do not back down. As you become proficient in speaking up, your demeanor will be strongly soft and relationships will improve.
Change you; influence others. The only person we can change is us. Our changing greatly influences others. Human nature being the sheep-mentality that it is, most people respond in kind rather than being the initial change agent. I encourage you to be that influencing, initial change agent. Life is faithful to give us the lessons over and over until we either learn and the situation is relieved, or we learn and can stay sane and unstressed in the midst of the surrounding immaturity. Regardless, the limits we have set still hold whether they are respected in peace or in protest.
Picture it. Take a tip from professional athletes and see yourself making the shot before being on the court. In your mind re-live a boundary eroding incident and see you responding differently. See you specifically addressing an issue. Formulate the words needed that will clarify your position. Feel yourself being confident and politely forceful.
Learning to set personal boundaries may be intimidating but it is not difficult. Know that you are worth protecting and stand up for yourself. Work it, cause you’re worth it!
Dr. William Glasser, founder of Reality Therapy, likens our emotional state to mental scales that weights what we have against what we want to have. The more we are living the life we want to live, the happier we are. The more evenly balanced our mental scales are, the more connected one is with reality.
Automotive experts tell us that cars run more efficiently on a full tank of gas. The gas is used up driving long distances or in stop-and-go traffic. The driver keeps an eye on the fuel tank and makes adjustments as needed. When the gauge is nearing ‘E’, the driver does not panic but simply keeps an eye out for a gas station to fill up.
Likewise, our lives run more smoothly when our emotional tank is full.
Emotions are there to communicate with us and to alert us to what we are creating in our lives. When you feel lower level emotions, such as frustration or anger, it is because you perceive that you are not getting what you want.
So, what’s a body to do? And that is just the point. The body responds negatively to drained or overwrought emotions. Behavior is total. This means that our behavior is to totality of our enmeshed thoughts, actions/inactions, emotions and physicality all at the same time. Thoughts, actions, emotions and psychology work in tandem. They cannot be separated.
Feel it. Recognize that you are feeling the way you feel and allow yourself to feel it. Emotions have to be owned before they can be evaluated to be be kept, adjusted or discarded. Denying an emotion does not eliminate it; it just pushes it down to fester.
Self-evaluate. Ask yourself why you are feeling the way you feel. More importantly, do you want to continue to feel that way? If not, what choices are you willing to make to adjust or discard the emotion?
The trigger behind drained emotions is failure to get what you want in a given situation. The more stack attacks of such deficiency, the greater the scales are askew. Not getting what you want fits into a number of categories from the trivial wanting steak and being served soup to serious boundary breakers. Are you willing to make the choice to enjoy cheese and crackers? Are you willing to speak up despite the butterflies in your stomach?
We are never in perfect balance but our objective is to stay as balanced as possible. Balance is maintained by being aware of your feelings and patterns. When you see yourself drifting off course, take notice and make an adjustment.
It is difficult to have a bad day when one's emotional tank is close to full. Life’s journey runs smoothly as we keep an eye on the emotional scales and fill up. It is the total behavior that drains; it is the total behavior that re-fills. Connect with whatever brings you back to reality: run, jump, dance, meditate, work, play, cuddle or whatever.
No matter the venue, from home life, to the workforce, salesmanship, community involvement, government, law enforcement, or to breakthrough science like Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, it is all about the state or quality of relating.
“We are motivated by love, controlled by it, inspired by it, healed by it and destroyed by it.
Each of life’s challenges is a lesson in some aspect of love.” Carolyn Myss
1. Choose to respect others, while earning respect from them.
2. The only person you can control is yourself. But do you? Things over which you have control includes your words, your attitudes, your facial expressions, your actions, your thoughts, your choices, your feelings, your schedule, what you spend, where you go, with whom you associate, how hard you are willing to work, how to interact with others, and how you take care of yourself. If you do not set the tone and pace of your life, then someone else will set it for you and you will feel put upon.
3. You are always influencing others, either positively or negatively. Be a positive influence by remaining pleasant, even in a difficult situation. Hold the person in high regard as a human being with infinite worth and value, even if you disagree with his/her ideas, attitudes, or behaviors. Find something good in each person and in every situation. See problems as solvable and as character building challenges.
4. Discover the door-way to communication. Your attitudes and behaviors create a door-way to you as well as away from you. If someone behaves according to your specifications, it equals an open door. If the person interacts (intentionally or unintentionally) against your specifications, your door closes – partially, all the way or can be locked and bolted. Set the pace as the relationship builder by choosing to adjust your style so the result is open communication, win/win relationships, and lessening or removal of tension.
5. Provide an inclusive, accepting environment that gives room to grow. The tension here is that acceptance does not mean approval. Many relationships are harmed by failure to accept the person as he is because of disapproval of how he thinks or behaves. Trying to make this person change results in resistance. As relationship is built, the other person is in a greater position to receive your insights.
6. You do not have to attend every argument to which you are invited. Choose your battles. It takes two to argue. You do not have to acknowledge or try to correct every comment, behavior, or attitude. Ignore as much bad behavior as possible and commend acceptable behavior. Accentuating the positive sets the environment to empower eliminating the negative. As Ann Landers says, “Just because a donkey brays, does not mean you have to acknowledge him.” But you do need to be kind to him.
7. Focus on the problem, not the personality. Don’t take comments or actions so personally.
What is more important, relationship or being right? Relationship or your opinion?
The story goes that the Greek scholar Archimedes uttered “Eureka” when he nonchalantly stepped into the bathtub (like numerous times before) and noticed that the water level rose in proportion as his body submerged. This volume displacing phenomenon led to the scientific discovery of how to measure irregular objects with precision.
“Eureka” is a Greek word meaning “I found it”. You’ve had them. You know; that ‘light bulb’ moment when what was dim becomes clear. You understand what you previously did not understand. It is an “aha” moment.
I had an “aha” moment over the power of networking and the community of the world-wide-web. I was contacted by Mutual of Omaha to film an “a-ha” moment for their advertising campaign. Although I have had many clarifying insights, the one I chose to record involves the day my vocation became my avocation.
I love to work. Whether home responsibilities, for pay, or volunteering, I follow the Biblical principle: “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”. Human nature being what it is, sometimes we cross a line without realizing it.
I teach life skills and know by personal experience that the principles are life-changing. In my zeal I wanted everyone to attend my presentations or support groups or read my books. I felt like I had a message the world needed to hear.
After a sparsely attended class I sank down into an office chair - not my desk chair in preparation for back-to-work – but in a side chair – in a “what’s the use” mood. It was then that I sensed God speak into my spirit, “No, Mona, it is not that you have a message the world needs to hear; it is that you have a message you need to share.”
That small shift in thinking gave such freedom. I had room to breathe. I became the teacher ready whenever the student appeared. And whether the audience is two, twenty, or two-thousand (or two-million), it is okay. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to share. My prayer is to be directed to those people, and to those businesses and those publications that want the message of hope and overcoming (and relationship building and time management and goal setting…).
The “Eureka” effect is on-going. I’ve had a lot of them and I so appreciate everyone. It makes life easier. More fulfilling. In any situation, all one can do is give information. If anyone’s life improves because of one of my insights, I rejoice as being one more voice that helped him “see the light”, but I am not exalted. If anyone rejects the principles, I am saddened but not depleted. Either way, I fulfilled my calling. I shared the message.