Boundaries help us keep our self respect!
Boundaries help us keep our self respect.
I used to have a friend who would say he would call over and visit. I would wait and he would not show up. He did this a few times apologising then making another time. However he would still not show or if he did he would be late. I enjoyed his company so I put up with this. However after some time I realised I did not deserve to be treated in this poor manner so the next time he said he was coming and was 5 mins late, I left the house. I broke the cycle of being disrespected. I set a boundary. If he did not respect me enough to be on time or let me know he was not coming, then he did not deserve my attention.
Over the years I have often thought of this man and wondered why he had so much trouble being respectful to others. He often said it was not intentional. But if someone is rude to you or abuses you or disrespects you unintentionally, does that make it right?
Setting a boundary can be a bit scary at first. You might miss out on that person’s friendship or their love. You may feel that you are giving up something you need. But are you really? Do you need someone in your life who treats you as a last priority?
Over the past few years I have noticed a trend in my counselling of women and men, who put up with bad behaviour from others. I think the most common phrase I have heard is oh they will never change, I will just have to accept it. I have to say I have challenged people on this belief as people do change, people grow. However sometimes it takes someone to set a strong boundary or even cutting them out of their life for them to change their behaviour. But change they do.
It is sad that it has to come to that. Maybe if we set a strong boundary in the beginning, not accepting bad behaviour in the first place would save both parties from unnecessary hurt. I no longer allow people to disrespect me and waste my time. I walk away more easily than I did years ago. I have nothing to fear. I love myself enough to know I am never desperate for anyone’s attention. I have everything I need and I am content.
This doesn’t mean I don’t get tested though. Recently someone did it to me again. Promising to catch up then never seeing sight of them. I have come to accept that some people are just not worth worrying about. Life is easier without them. Without the drama and without the waiting for them to change.
The reason I am bringing this to light today is that recently someone asked me about triggers. We explored some stuff in their life and we saw that the trigger of being disrespected went a long way back to childhood where their older brother would promise to take them out. They would wait all day for him to get home from work and then he would be too tired. This man is well into his 30’s now, but he still attracts people, friends and partners who constantly let him down. His trigger is an event years ago when his brother let him down over and over, when he was too young to understand.
Since he realised that his trigger was being let down as a child, he has told me that he now sets boundaries and if people let him down he simply moves on. Until they start showing respect he no longer has time for them.
Interestingly though I thought a lot about his dilemma and mine. I realise it is a self esteem thing. People with a healthy self esteem set healthy boundaries. They don’t let others trample their feelings or mess them around. They respect themselves enough to stand up and be counted.
As the mirror is always there, the next time someone disrespects you, stop and ask yourself, where am I disrespecting myself? Did I allow this person the right to do this by setting up an uneven playing ground? Am I feeling unworthy? Do I believe that I deserve to be treated this way? What am I afraid of, that has caused me to allow this behaviour into my life?
Setting strong boundaries is not being mean. It is being respectful to yourself. Of course we all need to check we are not doing the same to someone else. Are we in fact transgressing someone else’s boundaries by being disrespectful or rude?
Healthy boundaries allow people to keep their self respect. A healthy boundary means we let people in to love us and we allow ourselves to receive their love, but it also means if they do not treat us right, then we have the right to push them outside of that boundary. A healthy boundary flows both ways. But it is flexible enough to keep the good in and the bad stuff out.