This past weekend, I was speaking at an event just north of New York City. During my presentation, I addressed the importance of setting personal boundaries in relationships. I noticed one young woman with a quizzical expression, so I asked her if she had a question. She nodded. “What is wrong with ‘making’ something okay with me?” At that point, I shared my own experience of what can happen in a friendship—or any relationship for that matter—when we don’t draw clear boundaries.
In my case, I had a very close friend, a woman whose friendship I treasured. She accepted me for who I am—even with all my warts, scars, and chatty mouth. We were your proverbial “buds” and spent significant time with each other. I believed I was proving my gratitude for our relationship by agreeing to situations that in some cases, caused me to feel unincluded or invisible. Although I knew I should speak up, I didn’t because I loved her. Plus, in each case, my issues were the little things. For example, on several occasions, I agreed to be the designated driver when I would have liked to share a drink with our friends. Other times, I drove to her house when it would have been easier for me if she came in my direction. And more times than I can count, I answered the phone when what I needed was an evening of solitude. In time, I began to feel resentful, but each time I felt resentment rising, I reprimanded myself and made excuses not only for her but for myself. I knew I should speak up, but on the other hand, I worried that I was being a “baby” or worse, that I was acting selfishly. The simple fact is that in all cases, I had a choice. I could have said, “no.” But in each case, I said nothing. By not being honest with her, I lied to her. I lied when I said it was fine with me to be the designated driver for the third time in a row. I lied when I said it was okay with me to drive to her house again. I lied to her when I said it was okay when she apologized for calling me after 11:00 PM when I was already sleeping.
From the Heart
I believe that, like so many other women, my heart was in the right place. I wanted to support her because I valued our relationship. Unfortunately, though, by being dishonest with her and not sharing my discomfort in these situations, I allowed her to step on my boundaries.
There is no blame to be assigned here. I take responsibility for my actions, and I admit my error. This experience was a misstep and part of my growth process. What I learned the hard way is that each time I made my friend happy at my expense, I was lying to her and worse, I was lying to myself by telling myself I was “okay with it,” even though I knew I wasn’t. I share this story with you today because the discussion this weekend seemed to have a profound effect on several folks in the audience.
Personal Boundaries as A Barometer
Personal boundaries are critical because they act as our barometer. When you feel uncomfortable in a situation with a friend, co-worker, or family member, that discomfort is telling you something. By being honest with yourself and admitting when you are not pleased with the treatment by another, you own your personal power. Owning your power is critical because it communicates to those around you that you understand your value. When you value yourself and your abilities, you can begin to change your life for the better.
For so many of us, stepping into our power and speaking up is challenging. There may be any number of experiences that have caused you to feel that way. Stay tuned because I found a whole new source of information on this topic, and I can’t wait to share!
#Love #UnleashYourPotential #HealACEs #ClearPersonalBoundaries