Do you ever wonder why everyone else seems to cope except you? Some sail through life getting things done, having a ball, scoring promotion and being the heart and soul of the party too.
It’s so unfair it’s enough to turn you into the muttering mad person on the bus. Life’s just not like that for you. Sometimes it even feels like you don’t exist. People fail to acknowledge or thank you even though you do so much for them. No one seems to hear you and all your requests and needs fall on deaf ears no matter how many times you repeat yourself. You’ve give up on shouting.
Some folk, even loved ones, talk to you as though you were, at best, something nasty stuck on their shoe and at worst a special needs case. It’s got that you tolerate so much bad behaviour you’re angry enough to go three rounds with Mike Tyson. Except you’re too busy licking your wounds and doing your “poor me” routine. Sound like you?
Self pity and occasional resentment maybe your oft-used coping strategies but it’s not going to change this spiral of powerlessness and self disregard. You may be kind and loving and the sort of person others depend on but unless you start respecting your time, space, body and self, sadly, nobody else will.
The good news is you can seriously change your life by making a few simple but dramatic tweaks. The best and most powerful way to do this is by putting in a boundary.
Boundaries are an imaginary line of protection you place around yourself which shows others how to behave around you. Without a strong boundary people feel free to ride rough shod over you and your feelings and just as you tell your child what is acceptable or not, so you have to do that with others in your life too.
So often we think we show love by letting people do what they want around us, never picking them up when they say hurtful things or they fail to acknowledge our generosity. But in reality it means we let them know we don’t honour ourselves so why should they?
Healthy Boundaries – Happy You
A good starting point is to make a list of areas in your life that are not being respected by others. What needs to change here? Now “get” that you deserve better treatment than this and you’re on the road to increased respect, more energy, healthy relationships, less fear, more trust, true friends and less heart ache. Sounds good doesn’t it?
The next step is “educating” others and this is the tricky bit. If folk have been used to stampeding through your life without a second thought it’s going to take time to get them to understand that you no longer allow this.
But you can do this with care and attention (after all “accommodating” is your middle name, remember?) but most of all you must do it with conviction.
For example sit down with each person and share with them your process. It might go something like this – “I am happy to drive us all to bingo/work/the pub each week but I think a thank you wouldn’t go amiss and a contribution to the petrol from now on would be great. Or why don’t we take it in turns?” Gentle but firm is the key.
No less than demand that every single person in your life is always unconditionally constructive in every comment to you. No more snide comments, underhand digs, unkind nicknames, deprecating remarks in any situation. Like, ever!
Tell them what happens for you when they don’t respect your boundary. “When you don’t comment on what I do I feel unappreciated, hurt and fed up” or “when you talk like that I feel hurt and I’d like it to stop” and they will see the consequences of their behaviour and hopefully change.
Some will get it and others will want to push the boundary because they have had free reign for years they won’t want to tow your boundary line. But stick with it. Request they stop, then demand they do if they don’t and then walk away without getting into an argument. Keep it up and soon they’ll realise you mean business.
Remember to thank those who respect your boundaries as these are people who are acknowledging and helping you in your development. As your confidence increases the boundaries will become automatic and you will grow as a person, have a great circle of friend and colleagues and you will live life fearlessly and happily.
In short, put in a boundary and you make life limitless.
Your Boundary Tool Kit
- Say “no” 100 times more than you already do
- Stop volunteering to get love/respect/notice/friends
- Shouting or swearing at or around you is strictly forbidden
- Do not allow anyone to touch you in a way that feels uncomfortable
- Always build in time for yourself each day
- Ask people to acknowledge your good deeds
- Give people the chance to grow with you but never back down on a boundary
- Don’t use boundaries to get even with others
- Always put a boundary in with care and grace
- Remove yourself from the situation if someone consistently abuses your boundaries
Are You Dis-Respecting Me?
Here’s what happens when your boundaries are weak:
- You often feel hurt by other people’s thoughtlessness
- People intrude upon your time and space
- You accept verbal abuse
- There is a lack of respect in your life
- You are a dog’s body
- You often volunteer and are seldom thanked
- You attract and create needy people
- You’re often the butt of jokes
- You get overlooked and feel invisible
- You find it hard to trust
Author: Carole Ann Rice, one of UK’s leading life coaches, www.realcoachingco.com
Image by: istockphoto.com, Yuri_Arcurs