When we are young I think we all do what we can to fit in, to make friends and to be accepted. But as we get older and get to know ourselves more it’s important to recognise that what we once found as acceptable behaviour from peers, partners, parents, work colleagues and society in general no longer fits with what we believe in or what we feel we deserve. This is not unreasonable. As people grow and change we sometimes shed layers and while it can be sad and often hard to make those decisions often it is to our benefit.
Boundaries are different for everyone and often vary depending on the relationship you have with the individual(s) and they can be as gentle or extreme as you see fit. Will you ruffle feathers by doing this? Most likely you will but in the grand scheme of things if certain behaviour is impacting on you in a negative way I think the end justifies the means.
Setting boundaries is not something which comes naturally to a lot of us but it is something we can learn to implement. For me personally it took a long time to see when I needed to put these boundaries in place and when to recognise when I had had enough. To be clear, I am thinking about at least 2 different scenarios with very different outcomes but looking back, when I made those decisions and put those boundaries in place much better things came along. I think there is something in believing that when you start putting your own wellbeing as a priority good things follow. That’s not to say that implementing that decision is easy and that there won’t be some kind of backlash but we need to fight against the urge to give in. I have a tendency to try and be perfect and be all things to all people in my life and when I encounter a problem or situation whereby I find that I can’t fulfil that need or solve that problem it becomes very difficult for me to accept and in those circumstances having boundaries and accepting that is very tough. I have to remind myself though that we are not meant to cover all bases and that there will inevitably be times when you have to step back even if it pains you to your very core.
I would often find myself sick with migraines from stress and pressure of situations only to eventually realise, with the help of a counsellor, that I could relieve some of that pressure just by making different decisions. Easy in theory but after years of patterns being engrained on a daily basis it is not as easy as it seems. Even now I slip back from time to time, I absolutely do. Those times often act as reminders that perhaps I have let my guard down too much, that I have taken on too much or that I feel as though I am being taken advantage of. I would like to think I am better at recognising my limits now and know much more quickly when I need to take a step back no matter what the issue.
My message is, and often it won’t be the easy choice, but learn to spot red flags in people’s behaviour, note them and take them on board, monitor them and when you think no, this is enough, listen to that. It is not selfish to recognise that certain relationships have become overwhelming, aggressive, draining, nasty, unpleasant or whatever the emotion you feel it is. Just note that there are people with whom you will have great, healthy relationships with, ones that will from time to time need work and tweaking and others that unfortunately just don’t serve anything positive any more. Even in those cases it is not that the relationships have not got some fond memories or that they have not served a purpose or been a strong chapter in your life so you can still honour that. It does not mean that you dislike the person (or maybe you do) but just that there has been a shift and that for now you need to create some distance.
That’s my Sunday ramble for the week!