Monday, July 13, 2015

Great gulps of silence

Healthy boundaries define who we are, free us to be who we are and help people take us more seriously. That’s why we should never feel guilty about setting and reinforcing them. 

Quite the opposite, in fact. We should rejoice that there is something in this world that we will not bargain with. It’s a victory of the self. Anytime we are able to hold a courageous conversation with another person to reinforce our boundaries, we should feel proud. 

The hard part, of course, is taking effective action to establish them. Because in that moment when we set a limit to reinforce our integrity, there’s always a risk. That our boundaries will be seen as challenges to be defeated. That our boundaries will be seen as selfish and arrogant and proud. And that our boundaries will alienate somebody we care about and cause them to lose interest in the relationship. 

I have a colleague who used to get into the habit of inviting strangers to our monthly lunches unannounced. Which wasn’t a problem initially. I enjoyed meeting new people. But when our friendly lunch dates started morphing into free coaching sessions with uncommitted novices that I would never hear from again, that wasn’t okay with me. 

People pay me for that service

And so, I explained to my colleague that when he did that, it made me feel used and manipulated and violated. Which was a difficult thing for me to express. I was scared my friend might respond negatively. However, he completely understood, apologized for his behavior, and then we hugged and said I love you and everything was fine. 

Lesson learned, don’t let the minutes of your life be vacuumed by the needs of others.


What would it cost you not to stand up for your boundaries here?

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Scott Ginsberg
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